CA: Ventura County Unmet Transit Needs Meeting Turns Up Little

Feb. 06--The Ventura County Transportation Commission held one of its annual meetings Wednesday for residents to air what they think are unmet transit needs.

Only one was raised. Even then, the commission's bus transit director, Vic Kamhi, said it was "a qualified, sort of" unmet need.

A few members of the modest audience at Gold Coast Transit in Oxnard expressed such concerns as poor lighting at some bus stops and a lack of display racks for schedules on VISTA buses.

But those issues do not fit the strict definition of unmet transit needs, Kamhi told them.

"An unmet need is where service doesn't exist," he said. "You can't get from here to there."

The one concern that potentially fit the definition was raised by Keith York, 74, who said there is no bus service in the Ventura hills where he lives.

Kamhi said after the meeting that York and his neighbors 65 and older have Gold Coast Dial-A-Ride service available to them. But those younger than 65 do not.

"On the one hand, that is the sort of thing that an unmet need is," he said. "But because we only have that one comment, we wouldn't yet make a finding that it was an unmet need because we have a threshold 15 people needing to say the same thing."

The commission is required each year by the state Transportation Development Act to hear the needs of transit-dependent and disadvantaged people to improve transit and encourage regional transportation coordination in the county.

Tuesday's meeting was the first of four scheduled this month. A more formal hearing will take place Feb. 24, when several transportation commissioners will take testimony.

About 20 people attended the meeting, but only a few spoke.

"I can't help but notice that there are a lot of people here who aren't saying anything," said York, a retired Navy engineer and one of two audience members who did most of the talking.

Kamhi said that many in attendance were commission and Gold Coast staff members there to observe, take notes and answer questions

One woman asked for bus service to the county Juvenile Justice Center in Oxnard to be established. Another woman asked for bus service to be established to a medical facility in Camarillo.

The first woman was told that Gold Coast Route 17 provides bus service to the juvenile center. The second was told that the VISTA 101 bus stops about a block from the medical facility.

"A lot of the comments here were technically not about unmet transit needs," Kamhi said after the one-hour meeting. "In some cases, they could have been, had not Gold Coast and VISTA already provided that service."

Kamhi said the hearing was "par for the course."

"We've had as few as three or four people show up to as many as about 30 or 40," he said.

Another meeting took place Tuesday at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Central Station Apartment Community Room, 272 Main St., Fillmore.

The public may also give input to the commission by contacting 800-438-1112 or kelam@goventura.org.

The complete meeting and hearing schedule is at http://www.goventura.org/?q=unmet-needs-february-2014.

Copyright 2014 - Ventura County Star, Calif.

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