Bus routes are like rubber bands—stretch ’em too tight and they break. In the case of actual rubber bands, the snap-back injures eyeballs, but with broken bus routes, the reverberations force drivers to skimp on state mandated lunch breaks or simply arrive late to transfer points, slowing buses down across the county.
The Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) route 12, which connects Los Osos and Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo, is one such rubber band.
Executive Director Geoff Straw said the RTA didn’t have any spare buses and couldn’t afford another driver to solve the problem. Instead, staffers wanted to streamline the route, abandoning nine stops along the west side of Los Osos. At a July 26 community forum, members of the public protested, noting that the stops in question service the library, the community center, a church, and the Monday afternoon farmers market in Baywood Park.
On Aug. 1, Straw presented a compromise to the RTA board: The bus will provide modified but full coverage 12 times per day, while the 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. that passes through town will stick to the streamlined route.
“We realize there are some impacts, but we think this is the best solution possible,” Straw said. “A lot of people are excited about getting more reliable service.”
Eric Greening disagreed. During public comment, he questioned the fiscal impact of a potentially increased reliance on Paratransit services, which transport mobility-impaired passengers from their homes to any bus stop within three miles.
Another public speaker, Dr. C. Hite, complained that the changes would restrict access to food distribution sites for the poor.
“I’m just sick about this,” Hite said. “This is stabbing Los Osos in the heart.”
The changes are slated to take effect Aug. 19. Maps can be found at slorta.org.