Big changes are in store for the ROTA (Riverbank-Oakdale Transit Authority) transit service, the details of which were discussed at the ROTA board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 14.
The official date StaRT (Stanislaus Regional Transit) will take over operations of the ROTA transit service operating in Oakdale and Riverbank will be Jan. 2, 2013 but according to Donna Bridges, ROTA Transit Coordinator, most of the changes will be internal with the exception of the look of the buses, until the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2013.
“The buses will likely have the same drivers as they know the roads and the routes,” Bridges said. “The dispatch will also remain the same at the LRA (Local Riverbank Authority) until the end of the fiscal year.”
The change is proposed to bring many positive impacts, which include a lower fare than what ROTA charged as StaRT is not bound to the Fare Box Ratio rule that ROTA was bound to.
“The service will be better,” Bridges said, adding that plans to add a Saturday service have been discussed as a possibility.
The green trolley will no longer roll along the streets and one unleaded vehicle has been axed in the takeover as well as Bridges’ position, which she has held for the past eight years. Bridges’ last day with the firm will be Dec. 31, 2012.
The Joint Power Authority (JPA) will dissolve and instead, each city will enter into an MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with the county.
“The cities will have to do what’s fiscally best for their citizens,” Bridges said. “Oakdale has three times as many riders as Riverbank so likely the service will be different from one city to the next.”
Also discussed at the meeting was the finalization of an agreement between the City of Riverbank, ROTA and the local FFA (Future Farmers of America) who will lease 10 acres owned jointly by ROTA and the city as a working farm until the real estate market rebounds. The FFA will pay the property taxes while they are leasing the property.