Farmersville has been undergoing a lot of roadwork on its main streets. Included is a bus turnaround on South Farmersville Blvd., along with a bus stop intended for Visalia Transit Route 12 buses to accommodate seniors from a local apartment complex. Currently, Route 12 moves along Caldwell Ave. from Mooney Blvd. in Visalia, and further along Visalia Rd. into Farmersville and on to Exeter.
Travel along Route 12 outside of Visalia has recently been considered on the chopping block by Visalia Transit, according to Farmersville City Manager John Jansons.
“And the concrete is barely dry,” he said, of the South Farmersville Blvd. bus turnaround.
In a meeting between Jansons and Visalia Transit officials last week, however, he learned there is a possibility that Route 9 may take up the slack.
Ridership along Route 12 east of Mooney Blvd. has been sluggish, officials told Janson. If Route 12 to Farmersville and beyond is eliminated, Route 9 along Walnut Ave. will continue to run and may conceivably make the loop down Farmersville Blvd. to pick up passengers, on demand.
In other words, Janson explained, if an individual requires bus service, they would simply need to call in and would be told when the next route bus would be able to pick them up at their stop.
There are other on-demand, or as-needed services in Tulare County.
Exeter’s Dial-A-Ride has served its community for years. Individuals, mostly seniors, simply have needed to call in and were told when the driver could pick them up and deliver them to their location. The ride has cost $2 for general ridership; $1 for seniors.
However, in a recent city council vote, Dial-A-Ride will no longer be a function of the Exeter City Government, but rather turned over to Visalia Transit come July.
“We’ve been struggling with this for quite a while,” said Exeter City Manager Randy Groom. “It’s just become clear, it’s just not sustainable.”
Mostly utilized by seniors and those with disabilities, in the fiscal year of 2012-2013, the system saw total ridership of 11,839. It has steadily declined since with 5,847 riders for the fiscal year from July 2015-June 2016.
Despite the fact that the city sees every rider deserves the service, it just can no longer be implemented through the city, Groom said.
“We have and are doing everything to keep Dial-A-Ride,” he said. “Consolidation with Visalia, made all the sense in the world.”
Visalia Transit already handles inner-town transportation for Farmersville. There is a possibility that the two could connect, allowing ridership not only within each city, but between the two as well.
But, riders for Exeter will pay the price. The $1 ticket, one-way for seniors, will increase to $2.25, according to Groom. So, a roundtrip shopping trip to the market will soon cost $4.50, rather than $2.
“We are looking for ways to subsidize that,” Groom said, “at least for a while.”
Visalia Transit had a work session 17 regarding these issues and more potential changes in the works. Attended by Jansons, Farmersville Mayor Paul Boyer, and Councilman Greg Gomez, this allowed for further understanding of the proposed changes, Jansons said.
A staff member of Visalia Transit is also planning for a presentation at the next Farmersville City Council meeting, May 22.