Getting to White Lane from Oildale on the Golden Empire Transit, known GET bus was difficult for Barbara Emerson. She who gets around in a motorized chair and says she takes three busses to get to one spot. The company says it started new routes and eliminated old ones that slowed down services.
"Ah baloney,” Emerson says. “They don't have that, and you still have to travel a mile or more to get to a bus stop, it's not safe."
Each get bus route has a new number assigned to it like the number five bus headed to Valley Plaza is now, the number 81, and the number 10 to Panama Lane is now, the 42. Additional bus employees were out all weekend helping riders learn their new lines.
"It’s been confusing and a lot of waiting,” says Rose Salazar, who has been riding the bus for 15 years and has a mental disability. “This is my livelihood, but I’m nervous that I’ll get lost.”
Ashley Whitley has a 7-month old baby boy and says the bus route changes are horrible.
"I have to walk a mile to get to my bus stop, and he's heavy, he ain't light," Whitley says.
GET bus supervisors say riders with longer walks to stops will have shorter wait times for their routes. They say the changes were announced several months in advance after a 2-year study where 70 percent of the riders they surveyed said they wanted faster service.
“It’s gone pretty smoothly actually,” says Jill Smith, customer service supervisor for Golden Empire Transit. “We have staff at all our major bus stops, and so we’re helping customers get on the right bus, making sure they know where they’re going, and so far, everybody’s been able to make that trip, and they seem pretty happy.”
Some riders say they think the new routes will be more convenient. Kirk Yeterian started taking the bus a month ago to save on gas and says he’ll be able to get more exercise walking to his new bus stop.
"People just don't pay attention to anything, they come, and they're not prepared,” Yeterian says. “So that's what happens when there's a lot of confusion, people get on the wrong bus."
Theodore Maropulos is a Vietnam War veteran, who says he doesn’t mind the new routes either, but says it's still too early to tell.
“So far the efficiency of having a direct line seems to be better on this new one than the old one," he says.
But Barbara Emerson says she wants her old bus route back.
“They should've left it the way it was,” she says. “Just added more busses to it."
Many riders say they expect bus travel to be hectic as the work week begins for the new routes. GET bus officials say they will have workers with maps to help riders at many of their bus stops for the rest of the week.