Get ready for some major changes on the GET bus. Come October 7th, a complete overhaul of routes, times, and stops will take effect in Bakersfield. Some long-time GET riders feel like they've been thrown under the bus with these route changes but Golden Empire Transit says the changes will speed up service and eliminate overcrowding on the busiest lines.
A total of 376 bus stops will be lost along with four routes, and that is causing trouble for some who rely on the bus.
Maria Santos says she has been riding the bus for 22 years, most recently Route 7 along Stockdale Highway, to get to and from work as a housekeeper in the Seven Oaks area.
Santos says she is the sole provider for her family.
"These changes are going to ruin our lives. We don't know how we are going to provide for our families. We just want to keep going the way we are. We pay taxes, we have to support our families. We don't want to go to welfare," said Santos.
She says with that bus route eliminated, she'll have no way to get to work.
Golden Empire Transit says changes are needed to meet today's demand, and the demand isn't in the upscale Seven Oaks area.
"We checked where customers were getting on and getting off. We have some routes that are so overcrowded that in the morning people couldn't even get on the bus, they would have to wait for the next bus. On the other hand, we have other buses that are kind of empty," said Gina Hayden, spokesperson for Golden Empire Transit.
Under the revamped schedule, GET buses will follow new routes and have new numbers so there is no confusion, keeping unaware passengers from ending up on the other side of town by accident.
Jim Booth says a more efficient transit system won't help him. He needs the bus to get to the store and doctors appointments, and the new bus routes mean he'll have to walk farther.
"It's bad, it's just terrible. It's pretty hard when you are kind of handicapped to be able to do that," said Booth.
And Golden Empire Transit knows that.
"In order to serve the largest number of people, it does mean, unfortunately, that some people will have to walk a little bit farther. But, what we can offer them is better service and faster service once they get to the bus," said Hayden.
To see all the changes and to find your new bus lines and routes go to www.getbus.org