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HesperiaStar.com
  • PUBLIC TRANSIT

    VVTA 'growing into our shoes'

    Agency's budget is about $5 million less than last year
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  • HESPERIA — The Victor Valley Transit Authority crafted a budget that is lower than last year while it builds on previously established services and expanded use of technology.
    “We’re growing into our shoes” with the $19.8 million budget and 23 routes, Executive Director Kevin Kane said.
    The transit agency hopes to expand van pools, enhance mobility opportunities for the disabled and build ridership on the Fort Irwin and Barstow-to-Victorville routes.
    And the so-called B-V Link has been expanded with a weekday “lifeline” service from the Victor Valley to the San Bernardino Valley. The $6-per-leg fare beats driving, Kane said.
    “You couldn’t drive for 12 bucks from Barstow” when including all motor vehicle costs, he said.
    The route between Victorville and San Bernardino is popular, with ridership having risen monthly by about 2 1/2 times for May and June over the same months in 2013.
    The 2014-15 budget is about $4.9 million less than last year but includes money for the addition of four paratransit coaches and five regional bus replacements.
    “The operating expenses are flat, mainly because this fiscal year VVTA does not have the start-up costs for the Vanpool Program it had last fiscal year,” spokesman Fidel Gonzales said. “That amounted to a decrease of $1,053,500 in operating dollars.”
    The authority expects to improve several key bus-stop locations in the coming year.
    The agency employs 14 1/2 full-time equivalent employees. Driving and dispatch operations and maintenance are contracted to Veolia Transportation, which also helps reduce costs, Kane said.
    Vanpools are expected to increase from 173 to about 200 by year’s end, the VVTA officials said, which will help reduce traffic and improve air quality in the region.
    The authority also is making extensive use of technology to monitor route and maintenance effectiveness, communicate with drivers and riders, report to governing and industry agencies and save money, Kane said.
    The agency’s TransTrak software, developed by San Bernardino Associated Governments, helps improve service performance and expedites reporting to state and federal transportation agencies, the officials said.
    Other software, offered by Avail Technologies, includes real-time bus tracking applications — an iOS app called myStop Mobile and a mobile-friendly desktop version, which is HTML5 compliant.
    Under development is the merger of VVTA with Barstow Area Transit. The projected one-year integration will result in a larger governing board with the addition of a Barstow director and 3rd District Supervisor James Ramos.
    Looking ahead, Kane said, the transit authority will consider forming a nonprofit component that will qualify for more transit-grant opportunities to provide expanded services.
    The 2014-15 budget was adopted at the board’s June 16 meeting. The board meets at 9:30 a.m. at the VVTA Administration Office, 17150 Smoketree St. in Hesperia, on the third Monday of each month.
    For more information, go to www.vvta.org.
    Gary Brodeur may be contacted at 760-951-6245 or gbrodeur@vvdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DP_gbrodeur.
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