Hearings are underway throughout Stanislaus County to determine if there are any unmet public transportation needs in the nine cities and the unincorporated area of the county.
State law requires the Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG) to hold at least one public hearing to accept public comment on the state of transit needs. However, StanCOG is actually holding five hearings, the next being at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23 in Turlock Senior Center, 1191 Cahill, and at 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the Waterford Community Center, 540 C Street, Waterford.
Hearings have been held in Patterson, Oakdale and downtown Modesto.
Mike Costa of StanCOG said the hearings are necessary for the StanCOG Policy Committee to determine if unmet transit needs exist and ways they can be met. The process is important because the cities and county may use any leftover Local Transportation Funds (LTF) on non-motorized projects, such as street overlays.
Unmet needs must be reasonable to meet. Costa said, for example, a resident cannot expect there to be a bus stop in a remote place - such as five miles out in the county -- if it is a sole stop and not profitable. Also, unmet needs may not be considered for an area that is already served by a bus operation, said Costa.
"If instance, if you have a transit service need where you'd like to see the bus come more frequently to your location, that's not an unmet transit need because the bus actually serves your location," said Costa. "That's just a matter of operation and service that the local operator provides based on what they're able to do for the revenue and their budget."
Costa said it's important for any citizen to attend if they have concerns since local transit operators do attend meetings and can sometimes educate the public on what services are already available.
StanCOG is a joint powers authority formed to be the region's regional transportation planning agency.
Persons may submit unmet needs forms online at http://www.stancog.org/unmet-transit-needs.shtm