Public hearing on public transit needs scheduled for March 7 | News

A public hearing regarding transit needs in the city of Tehachapi has been set for March 7.

The hearing before the Tehachapi City Council will begin sometime after the meeting begins at 5 p.m.

According to a staff report from Chief Financial Officer Hamed Jones, the hearing is part of the requirements for the city to receive funding from the state’s Transportation Development Act.

Jones noted that the city provides Dial-A-Ride transit service through Kern Regional Transit. Using two buses, the service operates Monday through Friday from 5:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturday, service is provided from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. There is no service on Sunday.

In 2020-21, the city served an average of 278 passengers per month for its Dial-A-Ride service, generating $4,236.32 in rate box revenue for a service that cost $224,249.86.

Services are available within the city and between the city and certain county areas. Fees range from free for children 4 and under to $2 for the general public with youth ages 5 to 15, seniors 62 and older, and disabled fees set at $1.

Ridership has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones said. In 2020-2021, compared to 2019-2020, ridership decreased by 24% while total costs increased by 17%.

Usually the state requires the city to meet a 10% farebox ratio (i.e. the ratio of fares paid to expenses), which has always been difficult for the city. However, due to COVID-19, the state suspended the usual tariff box requirement. The fare box ratio generated by passengers in 2020-21 was only 1.4%, but the city was able to use $26,286 in CARES Act funding to meet the 10% requirement.

By meeting the required ratio, the city could receive up to $585,904 this year from the Local Transportation Fund and the state’s Transit Assistance Fund, Jones said. The funds come from an apportionment of state sales tax and gasoline sales tax.

The public hearing will take place during the Tehachapi City Council meeting on March 7. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. and will be held at the Tehachapi Police Department Community Hall, 220 W. C St.