Agency seeks comments on Ramona’s transit needs
By Karen Brainard
San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), seeking to fill in public transportation gaps in the county, sent a team to Ramona on April 25 to find out the community’s needs.
A handful of people attended the meeting in the Ramona Community Center and one of those was a student covering the presentation as an assignment for his Ramona High School civics class.
The SANDAG team brought boards listing a variety of needs for transportation services and asked those at the meeting to mark the ones they believe are high priorities and to offer input.
SANDAG is working on its 2012-2016 Coordinated Plan, a document that refines Regional Transportation Plan goals and objectives for transit and social service transportation, combines federal, state and local requirements, and guides four funding programs: Senior Mini Grant, Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC), New Freedom for those with disabilities, and Elderly and Handicapped 5310.
“It’s a transit plan but it’s a social services plan,” said Philip Trom, associate regional planner for SANDAG. “We really take a passenger perspective because we look at social service and how you transfer, especially if you’re on the edge of an area. We look out for that and are very sensitive to that.”
Last year, North County Transit District (NCTD) revamped its transportation service for Ramona due to rising costs and low ridership. NCTD introduced the FLEX service with two early morning and two late afternoon commutes between Ramona and Escondido in a 13-passenger van through a contract with American Logistics Company. NCTD also began offering reservation-only services for midday transportation between Ramona and Escondido, and for travel within Ramona on Tuesdays.
Resident Angela Ryan said that there is no transportation from Ramona to Poway or to Lakeside. Ryan said she has tried contacting NCTD and Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) but has not heard back from either.
“It feels like we’re in this wasteland,” she said, adding that she is concerned for seniors and for teens who need transportation and for the “in between people, people who are just outside the social services network.”
Trom said SANDAG is taking the role of liaison between NCTD and MTS and that is why the organization is working on the plan to implement services.
The planner added that they are seeing a shift in the younger generation preferring to use public transit.
According to Trom, previous coordinated plan research revealed persons with disabilities and individuals with limited incomes missed 35 percent of their medical trips, and individuals with limited incomes missed 21 percent of their work trips.
Trom and his team displayed large maps on easels with population densities for the county, using 2010 census data. The maps showed the amount of people per acre for categories that included persons with disabilities, below 150 percent of the poverty line, and age 65 and older. Most of Ramona fell into the zero to two persons per acre in each category. Ramona has a pocket that averages two to four persons per acre with disabilities.
Trom said the draft Coordinated Plan is scheduled to go for public review beginning June 1. A public hearing on the plan is slated for July 6, and the SANDAG board is expected to vote on the plan July 27.
Anyone wishing to provide SANDAG with information on transit needs for Ramona may contact Phil Trom at 619-699-7330, firstname.lastname@example.org, or SANDAG, 401 B St., Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101.
More information and maps on NCTD’s route between Ramona and Escondido are at www.gonctd.com, or call 511 for trip planning assistance.
For reservations for NCTD’s Ramona midday service or local service, call 855-844-1454.
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