City prepares transit development update

Vehicles pass by an abandoned bus stop overhang near the intersection of Newhall Ranch Road and Millhouse Drive on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Bus stops along Newhall Ranch Road that have laid dormant since their construction may be bustling with activity soon.

Santa Clarita Transit Manager Adrian Aguilar said the agency is evaluating proposals to update their transit development plan, which is six to seven years old.

“We’re currently evaluating proposals from consulting firms,” he said. “We’re hoping to go to council some time in March to approve that plan.”

Aguilar said the agency’s plan would consider current demand, future plans and the sustainability of routes.

“There are certain areas that we know are being developed for service,” he said, specifically highlighting Vista Canyon, Fair Oaks Ranch, Copper Hill Drive and Newhall Ranch Road.

The stretch of Newhall Ranch Road between Bouquet Canyon and Golden Valley roads is lined with several bus stops complete with bus turnout lanes, but no signage and no route to service. Aguilar said the forthcoming Senior Center project on Golden Valley Road would attract bus service.

Aguilar also said the far west side of the valley will be a focal point of increased service, specifically the Commerce Center, Castaic and the planned Newhall Ranch community.

“In the last few months, we’ve seen a lot of activity,” he said. “There’s going to be demand for service to and from that area.”

Not every stop in the 700-plus network of transit stops is properly marked. Bus stops that line McBean Parkway between Newhall Ranch Road and Decoro Drive were previously used when Route Seven, a local route linking north Valencia to Six Flags Magic Mountain, traveled that street. The route was shifted west to Copper Hill Drive in the mid-2000s, but the signage for stops on McBean at Fairview Drive and Cottage Circle has remained.

Aguilar said that stretch of McBean is no longer served by local routes, but school routes for students at Rio Norte Junior High School use the stops.

“It’s still served by our supplemental school routes,” he said. “Route 622 runs along that stretch and uses those stops.”

Similarly, a bus stop on Golden Valley Road near Robert C. Lee Parkway adjacent to Golden Valley High School is marked, but is only used for school routes. Aguilar said there are a number of stops in the system explicitly marked for school or commuter service.

“We’ll usually have a sign that says school day route only or commuter service only,” he said, using stops along Orchard Village Road, where local and commuter routes criss-cross, as an example. “Some signs get vandalized.”

Aguilar said the transit system rolled out a new schedule Saturday that made slight adjustments to commuter routes to downtown Los Angeles, North Hollywood and Century City as well as local routes five and six, which connect Stevenson Ranch to Vasquez Canyon and Shadow Pines.

“We typically do a schedule change twice a year,” he said. “We had a couple of routes that we didn’t have enough time built into the schedule.”

Aguilar said factors such as traffic and weather play into on-time performance. He said Santa Clarita Transit’s on-time performance exceeds other area transit agencies with the on-time rate in November being 90.5 percent and the rate in December being just shy of 90 percent.

“We’re typically in the 90 to 90.5 percent range, consistently,” he said. “Metro averages in the mid-80s. Our standard is 90 percent.”

Aguilar said riders can use their cell phones to track buses.

“Each stop has a unique ID number,” he said. “You can click on any stop and get real-time and scheduled arrival information.”

Aguilar also said the transit agency shares real-time bus information with third-party applications such as Apple Maps and Moovit. He said Google Transit will be added soon.

Aguilar said that while a large portion of residents do not regularly use the bus, the transit system still affects the city.

“Even if you’re not a daily user of transit, it has a big impact on the community,” he said.

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On Twitter as @ajclark24

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