Golden Empire Transit

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For public transportation in Bakersfield before 1973, see Bakersfield and Kern Electric Railway. For regional public transportation in Kern County, see Kern Regional Transit.
Golden Empire Transit
Golden Empire Transit logo.png
Founded 1973
Headquarters 1830 Golden State Avenue
Locale Bakersfield, California
Service area Greater Bakersfield
Service type bus service
Routes 16
Stops 1,600
Hubs Downtown Transit Center
Southwest Transit Center
Bakersfield College
Fleet 88 standard buses
19 GET-a-Lift buses
Daily ridership 23,000 (2010)
Annual ridership 7.3 million (2010)
Fuel type CNG
Website www.getbus.org

Golden Empire Transit is the operator of mass transportation in Bakersfield, California. There are 16 routes serving Greater Bakersfield, which includes both the City of Bakersfield and adjacent unincorporated communities. It, however, does not serve Rio Bravo. Although a part of the city, the area is too rural for urban bus service. Since 2005, the entire bus fleet is powered by compressed natural gas.

The government agency is an independent transit agency, and is not directly associated with either the City of Bakersfield or the County of Kern. However, it does coordinate with both the city and county, as well as the Kern Council of Governments (which represents most local governments in the county). It is also the direct descendent of the Bakersfield and Kern Electric Railway, which originally provided streetcar service to the city.

History[edit]

Prior to the mid-1950s, public transportation in Bakersfield was provided by a private company named the Bakersfield Transit Company (formerly the Bakersfield and Kern Electric Railway). However, yearly losses resulted in the city acquiring it in 1956, under the new name Bakersfield Transit Agency. The city made little investments in the system. Already suffering from deferred maintenance from the previous owner, the lack of investment resulted in the system sinking into further disrepair. Operating losses were also increasing.[1]

In 1973, voters approved a measure which established the Golden Empire Transit District. It would take over ownership and operation of the Bakersfield Transit Agency. The new transit district started purchasing new equipment. It also eliminated unnecessary routes. In 1986, the transit authority would undergo its first major alteration in the system. Previously, routes were running in circular routes. The company changed to a crosstown system. Buses operated on linear paths, and generally looped back when the bus needed to change direction. They also operated between transit hubs. The first was located downtown (Downtown Transit Center). Later a second was added at the Valley Plaza Mall, in the Southwest (Southwest Transit Center). A third transit center was built in 2011 on Panorama Drive at Bakersfield College. Golden Empire Transit implemented a new system of routes in October 7, 2012. The system transitioned from a crosstown system to an express/local system. Although the agency divides the system into five categories, it is easier to describe it in three. Express service runs between major destinations on the most direct route. It also makes a limited number of stops. Rapid service runs more frequently than express and makes more stops between end points. Local routes stop most frequently. Routes have been straightened for faster service.[2]

Routes[edit]

Local routes[edit]

Routes that begin with either a “4” or a “6” are Local routes. Technically, Golden Empire Transit defines routes that begin with a “6” as Circulation routes, but they operate the same; except for the headway. Local routes make frequent stops. Routes that start with a “4” run every 30 minutes while routes that start with a “6” run every hour.

Route Terminus via Hubs Served Notes
41[3]
Bakersfield College Transit Center * Mt. Vernon Avenue
* South Union Avenue
* Panama Lane
* White Lane
Southwest Transit Center
42[4]
Golden Empire Transit Office
Golden State Avenue / F Street
* 21st Street
* Oak Street
* Monitor Street
* Downtown Transit Center
* Southwest Transit Center
Walmart
Panama Lane / State Route 99
43[5]
Bakersfield College Transit Center * Truxtun Avenue
* Q Street
* Columbus Street
* Downtown Transit Center
Truxtun Avenue / Office Park Drive
44[6]
Bakersfield College Transit Center * Mt. Vernon Avenue
* S. Union Avenue
* Ming Avenue
* White Lane
* Southwest Transit Center
McNair Lane / Gosford Road
45[7]
Merle Haggard Drive / N. Chester Avenue * McCray Drive
* Buck Owens Boulevard
* 24th Street
* Truxtun Avenue
*Niles Street
* Downtown Transit Center
Foothill Boulevard / Morning Drive
46[8]
New Stine Road / Stockdale Highway * Stockdale Highway
* 4th Street/Virginia Avenue
* Pioneer Drive
Foothill Boulevard / Weedpatch Highway
47[9]
Office Park Drive / Commercial Way * New Stine Road/Stine Road
* Panama Lane
Walmart
Panama Lane / State Route 99
Bakersfield College Transit Center * Columbus Avenue
* Olive Drive
* Coffee Road/Gosford Road
* Harris Road
* Cal State Bakersfield Transit Center
Walmart
Panama Lane / State Route 99
Southwest Transit Center * Hughes Avenue
* H Street
* Hosking Avenue
* Stine Road
Panama Lane / Stine Road

Rapid routes[edit]

Routes that begin with a “2” are Rapid routes. They make fewer stops than local and express routes, but run more frequently. Rapid routes run every 15 minutes.

Route Terminus via Hubs Served Notes
Cal State Bakersfield Transit Center * Stockdale Highway
* California Avenue
* Mt. Vernon Avenue
Bakersfield College Transit Center
McCray Street/University Avenue * Chester Avenue
* Ming Avenue
* Downtown Transit Center
Cal State Bakersfield Transit Center

Express routes[edit]

Routes that begin with an “8” are Express routes. This group can generally be considered in two categories. Route 81 operates as in express for its entire length, stopping only at transit centers. The remaining routes only operate in express for part of its length. It operates in local for the remainder of its length, making frequent stops. Express routes run either every 30 minutes, or every hour.

Route Terminus via Hubs Served Express Between Notes
Bakersfield College Transit Center * Only stops at transit centers. * Downtown Tansit Center Express between three transit centers.
Southwest Transit Center
Downtown Transit Center * Rosedale Highway
* Brimhall Road
* Stockdale Highway
* Downtown Tansit Center Downtown Transit Center and
Coffee Road / Rosedale Highway
Cal State Bakersfield
Downtown Transit Center * Wilson Road
* Ashe Road
* Southwest Transit Center Downtown Transit Center and
Southwest Transit Center
North Half Moon Drive / Ashe Road
Downtown Transit Center * Old Farm Road
* Hagaman Road
* Rosedale Highway
* Downtown Tansit Center Downtown Transit Center and
Coffee Road / Rosedale Highway
Cal State Bakersfield

Long-Distance Express routes[edit]

Routes that begin with a “9” are Long-Distance Express routes. These routes generally connect Bakersfield with large industrial centers (or other areas of large employment) outside of the city. They make only a few stops in Bakersfield, and then make no additional stops until reaching the industrial center. It will then make frequent stops within the center. Long-distance Express routes run every 2 hours, and generally do not run in the evenings.

Route Terminus Other Major Stops Notes
Downtown Transit Center * Kern Delta Park and Ride
South H Street / McKee Road
Tejon Industrial Complex
Laval Road / Interstate 5

Transit centers[edit]

Downtown Transit Center[edit]

The Downtown Transit Center is the transit center primarily serving Northwest, North and East Bakersfield. It is located in Downtown Bakersfield, in between Chester Avenue and Eye Street, on 22nd Street. It is the largest transit center in the system, encompassing 1/2 of a city block. It has 15 off-street bus parking spaces. The transit center is staffed and includes restrooms, and shaded outdoor waiting areas. The transit center was constructed in the mid-1980s.

In addition to Golden Empire Transit, Kern Regional Transit also uses the transit center for one of its hubs. They currently have 6 routes that stop at it, although not all routes run 7-days a week. Their buses stop on the south side of the transit center.

Southwest Transit Center[edit]

The Southwest Transit Center is the transit center primarily serving Southwest, South, and Southeast Bakersfield. It is located on 1912 Wible Road south of Ming Avenue, directly adjacent to Valley Plaza Mall. It has 7 off-street bus parking spaces. The transit center is unstaffed and contains restrooms and shaded waiting areas.

The transit center was constructed in the mid-1990s. It is currently over-capacity, with two bus spaces being shared with two bus routes each (at different times). In addition, two bus routes stop on Wible Road, north of the transit center. There is no room for expansion. In the past, it had been suggested moving the transit center to a new location, but those plans have been shelved in favor of other priorities.

Bakersfield College Transit Center[edit]

This transit center is located on Panorama Drive adjacent to Bakersfield College. It has 8 off-street parking spaces. Six spaces are currently used by GET and one is used by Kern Regional Transit. The transit center is unstaffed and contains restrooms and shaded waiting areas.

Services[edit]

Bicycle transportation[edit]

All Golden Empire Transit buses are equipped with bike racks. Each rack can hold two bicycles. If the rack is full, the driver may allow bicycles to be carried on the bus, if there is room. Otherwise, bicycle riders must wait for the next bus.[19] Most bus stops and all transit centers do not have bicycle racks or storage lockers.

To complement the bus system, there is also a network of bike paths and bike lanes. The Kern River Bike Path is a dedicated bike path that runs along the Kern River in the Kern River Parkway. It travels through almost the entire length of the city. Several spur routes diverge from the bike path, serving other locations such as California State University, Bakersfield. In addition, many 1-mile spaced arterials have dedicated, striped bike lanes. The width of the lane depends on whether on-street parking is allowed.[20]

The Reading Express[edit]

The Reading Express is a program provided by Golden Empire Transit. Most buses are equipped with a small library of books for children from infant through third grade. The program is design for parents to read with their children while riding together on the bus. This also promotes education, as well as providing entertainment while traveling. Books can not be borrowed and must remain on the bus.[21]

Fare and fare collection[edit]

The following are Golden Empire Transit fares, effective August 1, 2011:[22]

Fare Type Regular Senior
/Disabled
/Medicare
Single Ride* $1.25 $0.75
Express Single Ride** $1.50 $0.75
GET-a-Lift Single Ride n/a $2.50
GET-a-Lift 10-Ride Pass n/a $25.00
Regular Day Pass $3.00 $1.50
31 Day Pass $36.00 $18.00
Express 31 Day Pass** $50.00 $18.00
Summer Youth Pass*** $50.00 n/a

*Single ride is valid for one bus ride with no transfer. Only valid on bus routes where the route number doesn't begin with "9".
**Express are routes where the route number begins with "9".
***Unlimited rides for people 18 years and younger on all routes except with a X in the route number. Valid from June through August.

Golden Empire Transit currently uses GFI Odyssey fare box machines on its standard buses. They validate all US Coins and paper money through $20 bill, although it does not give change. It also validates all ride passes used on fixed routes.[23] GET-a-Lift multi-ride passes are punch cards, and do not have a magnetic strip.

There are several features of the Odyssey machines that GET are not currently using, but could be implemented in the future. They include: processing credit cards, providing change in the form of printing pre-paid cards, deducting from pre-paid cards, and printing/validating transfer slips.[24] Some of these features would require changes to GET's fare structure.

GET ride passes can be purchased with a variety methods. They can be bought in person at the Downtown Transit Center or GET headquarters on Golden State Avenue. They are also available at a variety of partner retail stores throughout the city (listed on their web site). Passes can also be purchased by mail or by phone.[25]

Fleet[edit]

Golden Empire Transit's bus fleet generally consist of two types of buses, 40' standard buses for fix routes and 21' for demand buses (GET-a-Lift service). The entire fleet is powered by compressed natural gas. The standard buses have a 38-seat capacity, and a low floor design to assist with handicapped passengers. The demand buses have a 9-seat capacity, and have a wheelchair lift in the rear.[26]

As part of its 2009 rebranding, GET is transitioned to a new bus color scheme. The paint scheme is blue, with a green bottom. A wavy yellow line separates the blue and green space. Near the front, the green section is wide enough for the "sunburst" GET logo. Only the newer buses have it. The older paint scheme is entirely white, with a red strip through the center. There is a break in the line for the old "fast transit" GET logo, which was in use from 1973-2009. Based on the replacement schedule, all of the buses will transition to the new scheme by 2015.

In addition, GET owns a variety of service vehicles. These range from sedans, to pickup trucks, to small flat bed trucks. There is also one tow truck in the fleet. These vehicles are generally number between 1 and 99.[26]

Maintenance facility[edit]

Golden Empire Transit's Maintenance Facility is located on Golden State Highway, next to the Kern River (on the north frontage road). GET moved here after outgrowing the previous facility located at the corner of Union Avenue and 19th Street. Except between 1909 and 1920, that location had been used for maintenance and storage since 1887 (first for streetcars and later for buses).[27] The current location also contains the headquarters for the transit authority. In addition to containing parking for the entire fleet, it also contains shops, bus wash, and cleaning facilities.

Future[edit]

Golden Empire Transit is currently partnering with California State University, Bakersfield to construct a transit center at the university. Development of the transit center is contingent on receiving government funding for the project.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bergman, John. The Southern San Joaquin Valley: A Railroad History. Jostens Printing and Publishing Company. Visalia, California: 2009. ISBN 978-0-615-25105-9. Page 134-136.
  2. ^ Short Range Transit Plan. Golden Empire Transit. Page 3. Accessed: 04-21-2011.
  3. ^ Route 41. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  4. ^ Route 42. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  5. ^ Route 43. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  6. ^ Route 44. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  7. ^ Route 45. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  8. ^ Route 46. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  9. ^ Route 47. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  10. ^ Route 61. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  11. ^ Route 62. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  12. ^ Route 21 - CSUB/Bakersfield College. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  13. ^ Route 21 - CSUB/Oildale. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  14. ^ Route 81. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  15. ^ Route 82. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  16. ^ Route 83. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  17. ^ Route 84. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  18. ^ Route 92. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 01-10-2013.
  19. ^ Bikes on Bus. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  20. ^ Bikeway Master Plan. City of Bakersfield. June 30, 2010. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  21. ^ The Reading Express. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  22. ^ Fares & Passes. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  23. ^ Short Range Transit Plan - FY 10/11 - 14/15. Golden Empire Transit. Page 5. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  24. ^ Odyssey. GFI Genfare. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  25. ^ Where to Buy Passes. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  26. ^ a b Short Range Transit Plan - FY 10/11 - 14/15. Golden Empire Transit. Pages 103-105. Accessed: 11-08-2011.
  27. ^ Bergman, John. The Southern San Joaquin Valley - A Railroad History. Jostens Printing and Publishing Company. Visalia, California:2009. ISBN 978-0-615-25105-9. Page 124.
  28. ^ Metropolitan Bakersfield Transit System Long-Range Plan. Golden Empire Transit. Accessed: 04-21-2011.