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AVTA FARE HIKES, SERVICE CUTBACKS POSSIBLE.

Byline: CHARLES F. BOSTWICK Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- Higher fuel prices and labor costs could mean a hike in Antelope Valley Transit Authority bus fares as well as fewer buses and shorter hours for some outlying routes.

AVTA's top official said the bus agency is starting to rework routes to prepare for new population and travel patterns, such as serving the 5,000-home Anaverde master-plan community and the Palmdale Regional Medical Center, while seeking ways to better serve outlying communities.

``Part of what we are doing this year is we're trying to get ourselves positioned so we can accommodate that growth in the future,'' AVTA general manager Randy Floyd said.

AVTA managers propose to raise local transit bus fares 20 percent to 33 percent, halt nighttime service on four routes at 8 p.m. rather than around 11 p.m. and increase the waits between buses on three routes to up to two hours.

The agency is cutting back on the less-traveled outlying routes while preserving urban routes, Floyd said, but it is also revamping service to Lake Los Angeles at the urging of a committee created by that community's town council.

AVTA officials hope to do the same later for the Littlerock and Sun Village communities, Floyd said.

Besides paying higher prices for diesel fuel, Floyd said, the agency also recently approved a new contract with a private firm to supply the bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers and other workers.

That will increase costs about $800,000, Floyd said.

If approved next week by the AVTA board, the changes would take effect in September. The board will take testimony on the proposed fare increase and service changes at a public hearing beginning at 9 a.m. Monday at the AVTA offices, 42210 6th St. W., Lancaster.

Under the proposal, regular one-way fares would increase from $1 to $1.25, or from 50 cents to 60 cents for senior citizens, disabled people and Medicare card holders.

Three-hour passes would increase from $1.50 to $2 for general passengers, and from 75 cents to $1 for seniors, the disabled and Medicare card holders.

Monthly passes would increase from $40 to $50 for general passengers, and from $13.25 to $16.25 for seniors, the disabled and Medicare card holders.

Among the proposed changes are elimination of Route 8, dubbed ``the Shopper,'' which took people between downtown Palmdale and the Antelope Valley Mall.

Route 8 will be taken over by two other routes, Route 2 and 3, which will travel between the mall and east Palmdale, improving service to the mall by eliminating the need for passengers to transfer buses at the Metrolink station, officials said.

In addition, buses would stop running at 8 p.m. on Route 7, which goes from Los Angeles County's High Desert Health Systems clinic to downtown Lancaster and the Palmdale Metrolink station; on Route 4, which travels east Avenue K; on Route 5, which travels Avenue L, and on Route 6, which serves Littlerock.

In addition, Route 7 buses would come every two hours, instead of every hour; Route 4 buses would come every hour instead of every 30 minutes, and Route 6 buses would come every 90 minutes, instead of every hour.

The outlying routes carried few passengers after dark, Floyd said. In addition, the county clinic has begun operating its own shuttle bus for patients.

In Lake Los Angeles, the community shuttle bus would begin traveling to Lancaster and Palmdale, instead of dropping off passengers to catch a conventional bus into Palmdale.

The Lake Los Angeles shuttle would alternate between traveling to the Palmdale Metrolink station and to the east Lancaster Wal-Mart and Lancaster City Park.

Route 9 would change to travel 70th Street East and Avenue S to serve Knight High School, and a new 99 Special would serve Lake Los Angeles and Littlerock High School.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 21, 2006
Words:641
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