Everybody enjoys the ride: Valley
Express offers free trips around the city

March 04, 2015
Santa Paula News

Everybody was enjoying the ride although for the most part they had no place to go when they hopped aboard the Valley Express Monday for a free trip around the city.

Gratis trips on the Valley Express were offered in Santa Paula, Fillmore and unincorporated Piru, all members of the newly formed Heritage Valley Transit Authority. The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) administers the new authority that offers two fixed daily routes in Santa Paula and one fixed route each in smaller Fillmore and Piru.

Valley Express will still provide service to the connecting VISTA 126, which takes commuters to various stops and connections in Ventura. Appointment only Dial-A-Ride will also continue to be operated by VCTC but it is hoped commuters without special needs will prefer the new fixed route service.

Donna Hamer and Steven Blatchley seemed to love the service before it even left the bus stop across from City Hall, where earlier there had been speeches by elected and appointed officials as well as a ceremonial ribbon cutting celebrating the new system.

Hamer said she has not used public transportation much in the past and wondered aloud if as a resident of the Oaks — in the northern portion of the city — it would be convenient to catch the Valley Express.

Blatchley, also an Oaks resident, is an advocate of letting someone else do the driving for various reasons, noting, “Even if you have a car,” the use of public transit “reduces the footprint,” of carbons and other negative environmental impacts.

The freeway bus connection said Blatchley, will even take commuters to Ventura Pier during the summer months.

The all new Valley Express buses could be better described as shuttles, with a compact shape more attractive than the oversized school type buses but vehicles that still allow for about 35 passengers.

There are seatbelts, special windows that resist etching and are easy to enter and exit with a low ramp instead of stairs. The driver can activate the boarding ramp, flipping it over and extending it out to ground level to provide easy access for wheelchair users. Back on board seats can be easily adjusted to allow for more space as needed and a bike rack is located on the front of the vehicle.

The Valley Express lives up to its name going from east to west and back again even further east before coming back to City Hall, a ride that took approximately 40 minutes. 

On Monday buses started running at 6 a.m. and stayed until 8 p.m., the weekday schedule. On weekends, service will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

There will also be “tripper service” for students to area schools matched to school schedules. 

Fixed-route service will have fees ranging from one-way rides for adults $1 and 50 cents for students 17 years and under (kids under 5 ride free), disabled and seniors (65 and up); a day pass will cost $3.75 and includes unlimited Dial-A-Ride and Valley Express service. Monthly passes are only $10 for youth, disabled and seniors and adult passes are $20.

Valley Express will save money over Dial-A-Ride will see its fees increase: adults/youth one-way will be $1.75 and senior and/or disabled 85 cents. ADA paratransit service — for those certified as not being able to utilize fixed-route bus service — will be by appointment only; same day service will depend on space-available and the cost will be $2 one-way.

There are two fixed Valley Express Routes: Route A which runs clockwise and has a Las Piedras Park deviation and Route B which runs counterclockwise and has a Santa Paula Hospital deviation.

Passes are available at Santa Paula City Hall, 970 East Ventura St., Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. City Hall is closed alternate Friday’s; call (805) 525-4478 for more information.

Passes are also available at MV Transportation, 810 Railroad Ave., Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call (805) 933-2267 for more information.

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