Madera Area Express will gain new stops Monday. (John Rieping)
Monday will bring changes to the city’s public transit service, Madera Area Express, with four new bus stops on its fixed routes and more frequent arrivals. Other enhancements are being worked on as well.
The expanded service on Route 1, which travels to Madera Community Hospital and the Madera County Government Center, should reduce wait time between buses from 35 to 30 minutes. The following stops will be added on Route 1: Adell and Merced streets, Gill Avenue and Noble Street, Almond and Knox streets, and South Knox Street and Del Lago Lane.
The expansion was hastened by feedback in writing, in person, by telephone and at public and private meetings, including ones with members of the Madera chapter of Lideres Campesinas (Female Farmworker Leaders), a nonprofit advocacy group.
“We met with them not so long ago … We were really happy to tell them this was coming and this addressed their concerns with frequency as well as additional stops in those areas of need,” said city grants administrator Ivette Iraheta, “Of course they had other requests as well and we’re working on those, such as newer buses.”
Other requests, she said, include “space for strollers and wheelchairs,” identification badges for drivers, shelter at bus stops, posted reminders that food and drink aren’t allowed and the need for exact funds for fares, reduced rates for all students rather than only college students, transit schedules posted at bus stops, and free rides for children 5 and younger instead of 3 and younger.
In response, the city is working on buying new buses and bus shelters, hiring more bus drivers, and evaluating the rest of the concerns, including fares.
“Through our Phase II transit enhancements project, we will be installing 21 new bus stops with shelters, benches and trashcans at existing bus stops on designated bus routes,” said city program manager Jorge Antonio Rojas. “Of the 21 new bus stops, right-of-way was obtained for three stops. The remaining 18 will be installed on existing city-owned right-of-way. Funding is provided through Measure T for these shelters. (The) city has completed in-house engineering and design for this project, which is anticipated to start construction in spring 2017.”
MAX offers public transportation from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
“For the month of June 2016, our combined — MAX route and Dial-a-Ride, which is a door-to-door service — monthly ridership was 12,021 … During the month of June, seniors and the disabled were the major users of the MAX service,” said Rojas. “Student ridership was down, which is probably due to students being off during the summer.”
For information, contact the Madera Transit Department, 661-3690.