Having observed a deficiency of public transportation in Ramona, Merit Whitney, transportation supervisor for Ramona Unified School District, said she has a resource: school buses.
“What I know is Ramona has a need and I have a resource to meet that need,” she told Ramona Community Planning Group members at their March 4 meeting.
Pointing out that there are elderly and disabled residents who are without transportation, Whitney said the school buses could offer service during the day when they are not used to transport students. School buses traditionally transport students between 6 and 9 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m., Whitney said.
The buses are emission compliant, she added, and two buses are wheelchair-equipped. One of the biggest problems, she said, is that the buses are not very comfortable, but she believes that is a minor problem compared to the benefits they could provide.
Besides transporting residents who need to shop, go to the doctor or go to the library or other locations in Ramona, Whitney said she envisions the possibility of residents traveling to other areas in the county with service extending beyond the average work day.
Whitney said she has been researching and looking into possible funding, but has not determined the charge per ride.
School bus drivers could provide the service, Whitney said.
“Part of what I would like to do is retain jobs, increase their hours,” she said.
According to Whitney, the school district administrators and school board are supportive of this idea.
“I think this is something that is workable,” said planning group member Bob Hailey.
The school buses are under-utilized, and the idea needs some development, said Hailey.
The planning group voted to write letters in support of the idea to the Ramona school district, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and the Ramona Transportation Action Committee (RTAC).