Starting Aug. 3, a new service will offer seniors van rides between the cities of Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Simi Valley, unincorporated areas and other places in the East County.
The intercity Dial-A-Ride and Americans with Disabilities Act program will allow seniors 65 and older and ADA cardholders to travel between most areas in eastern Ventura County and to make connections to other transit providers such as Gold Coast Transit’s GO ACCESS and LA Access.
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Rides will be offered for $5 on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The city’s participation in the program was approved by the Thousand Oaks City Council June 9.
The program was crafted by the East County Transit Alliance (ECTA), formed by the cities of Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi Valley and the County of Ventura to improve transit services in the East County.
The council also approved Ventura County’s request that Thousand Oaks Transit (TOT) expand Kanan Shuttle service to include Saturday service between the hours of 8:10 a.m. and 6:20 p.m., and also operate a Summer Beach Bus service for Oak Park residents.
Mike Houser, the city’s transit manager, called the program for seniors “a tremendous step forward.”
The program combines all services under T.O. Transit instead of individual operators, eliminating the need for transfers between agencies in the East County.
It will also offer a uniform fare, the same operating hours for all the vans and one phone number to make reservations.
“This is really a watershed moment for transit in the East County,” Houser told the council.
A federal grant will be shared by the cities of Thousand Oaks and Moorpark to help pay for the service. T.O. will receive about $83,000, 70 percent of the funding, based on its population. The program will cost the city of T.O. about $98,960 and will cost TOT $146,000 in its first year of service to Thousand Oaks residents. Thousand Oaks is required to contribute $16,600, a 20 percent match. The money will come from Transportation Development Act funds.
“Getting over all these obstacles over the last few years and to reach this moment is actually quite remarkable,” T.O. Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña said at the meeting. “I’m excited to have this happening.”
Local Dial-A-Ride and ADA services will continue to be offered by the individual cities, though ECTA may eventually consolidate those services under one operator as well, Houser said.
TOT customers in T. O., Moorpark and unincorporated areas of the county will not see changes in the service except for the addition of seniors to the ADA program, Houser said.
Simi Valley passengers will no longer have to transfer between TOT vehicles and Simi Valley Transit vehicles, he said, and their service will be provided by non-Simi Valley vehicles.
The City of Camarillo opted not to participate in the program and will not be eligible for transfer services with T.O. and the other agencies.
However, residents in the other ECTA areas can get a ride to and get picked up from Camarillo locations, Houser said.
East County Transit Alliance operators began working on the program for seniors in 2013.
The ECTA Management and Operations Committee determined that a single intercity DAR operation was the best option and chose Thousand Oaks Transit, the largest service provider in the ECTA service area, to lead the new program.