San Antonio lobbies for trolley
by Lenny Roberts
Time will tell if the efforts of San Antonio School fifth-graders
to get limited Ojai trolley service to the East End of town pay
Monday morning, students went to a Ventura County Transportation
Committee meeting at Camarillo City Hall as part of the school's
service learning project, a once-a-year effort designated for
the betterment of the community.
"We just looked at a variety of subjects, and they opted
for traffic after (Ojai City Marketing and Public Relations Director)
Linda Fisher-Helton brought the trolley to school one day to
educate them about safety," teacher Linda Coultas said.
"They wondered why the trolley doesn't come here, and brought
surveys and maps to the county's unmet needs hearing."
Working within guidelines of the State Transportation Development
Act, VCTC defines unmet transit needs as, at a minimum, those
public transportation services that have been identified by substantial
community input through the public hearing process or are identified
in a short-range transit plan or the regional transportation
plan that have not yet been implemented or funded.
Coultas said that Citizens to Protect the Ojai president Ivor
Benci-Woodward and Ojai City Councilman Joe DeVito also spoke
to her class. Devito explained what the city is doing about traffic
issues, and said that a fourth trolley is being purchased by
the city, though with no immediate plans to expand service east
of Gridley Road.
Accompanied by Fisher-Helton and Ojai Unified School District
Assistant Superintendent Tim Baird, and armed with the results
of a survey taken by East End residents and area maps depicting
SCAT bus and trolley routes, students William Greenway, Anna
North and Omar Estrada presented their findings to VCTC members
at the hearing. They collectively stated that the East End, much
like Mira Monte and Meiners Oaks until routes were added in the
mid-1990s, has been neglected by the city's trolley service.
"The kids ran off a battery of questions that were sent
home and passed out to parents and neighbors," Coultas explained,
"and presented a persuasive argument at the hearing that
this is an unmet need. The map showed where the SCAT buses and
trolleys went, and that there is no transportation to the school
or the East End. They're just looking for some prime-time service
during the day."
In North's presentation, she noted that all OUSD schools currently
have SCAT or trolley service except San Antonio and Summit. She
cited pollution, traffic reduction and the need for transportation
to and from after-school activities as her concerns.
Greenway, of Linda McMichael's class, said with his school's
recent success of raising $2,500 for the National Disaster Search
Dog Foundation, students could help raise funding for trolley
service, and East End businesses such as Boccali's, Aqua Flo,
Woolsey Inn and the Day Spa could benefit from extended service.
Estrada said that he and other students would like to be able
to stay after school for some of the music, art or science programs
that are being offered, but "if their parents are working,
they don't have a ride."
More than 180 survey responses were received. The majority of
the 109 children reported were from two-adult families, and the
majority of those children were ages 13 and older. The families
reported recreation, after-school activities and transportation
to and from school as their reasons for wanting trolley service,
and said Mondays would be the most desirable day to have the
service, although 112 responders said they would use the trolley
Trolley service would be most useful at Grand Avenue and Carne
Road, said most, edging out the intersection of McAndrew and
Besides San Antonio School, the Boyd Center, Thacher School,
Monica Ros School, the Ojai Library, Boccali's Restaurant, The
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, Summit School and Sarzotti Park were
key destinations for would-be trolley users, and most people
polled felt that 10 years of age was a good time for kids to
begin using the trolley unsupervised.
The fifth-grade class plans to present its findings to the Ojai
City Council Feb. 26, and to the OUSD sometime in March. A trip
to Supervisor Steve Bennett's office is also in the works.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news