County leaders meet in Patterson to talk public transportation
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Jan 31, 2013 | 1431 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
During a workshop this week on the West Side’s transit needs, Denise Miller, a 24-year resident of Patterson, told a story about when her elderly mother tried to buy a scooter to ride along Highway 33 from her home to the main part of Patterson.

“Some residents drive, some do not — my mother hasn’t driven for 11 years,” she said.

Transportation for senior citizens was at the top of the list of topics during the public meeting about gaps in local and regional transit systems Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Patterson City Council Chambers. The meeting was hosted by the Stanislaus Council of Governments, a council of city and county governments that was established in 1971 by a joint powers agreement to address regional transportation issues.

Several people addressed StanCOG staff members and representatives of other county transportation agencies during a public comment period.

Miller said she was speaking on behalf of seniors living at El Solyo Village, 850 N. Second St., including her mother, a longtime resident of the complex.

She said the only way for many El Solyo residents to reach the main part of Patterson was by walking along North Second Street, which is part of Highway 33 and has no sidewalk.

“You actually feel the wind from the trucks and cars as they pass,” she said. “This is a safety issue.”

Mayor Luis Molina pointed out that Stanislaus Regional Transit, the county’s regional bus system, offers a Dial-a-Ride program to pick up seniors and take them where they need to go. He said StaRT and other county agencies should do more to inform residents about their options.

“I would recommend seniors not walk that route,” he said. “We need to do what we can to communicate safe routes to and from home.”

Jean Foletta, program manager for the Consolidated Transportation Services Agency of Stanislaus County, asked about possible outreach to El Solyo residents.

Foletta said volunteers already drive seniors to appointments and on errands through the Area Agency on Aging, which is a Stanislaus County senior information and service agency.

Molina also suggested establishing a regular bus route to Patterson’s new Walmart, 1030 Sperry Ave., which was fast becoming a popular destination.

“Is there an opportunity to meet that need and for other places like the Del Puerto Health Care clinic?” the mayor asked.

Eunice Lovi, a transportation manager for StaRT, said her agency had been getting calls for rides to Walmart since it opened Jan. 23 and was looking into solutions. Dial-a-Ride shuttles transported six residents the first day, she said.

“We’re looking at making more Dial-a-Rides available, as well as possibly a fixed route,” she said.

She was unsure whether routes could change immediately or would have to wait until August, when the agency makes most of its route changes for the year, she said.

Lovi said StaRT was also looking at adding routes to Patterson from other West Side communities, such as Newman, Crows Landing and Grayson.

Mike Costa, a StanCOG associate planner, said all information from the meeting would be conveyed to the agency’s executive committee.

Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31, or nick@pattersonirrigator.com.

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