Transit district unveils new FLEX service for Ramona

By Karen Brainard

North County Transit District’s (NCTD) new Ramona FLEX Service will start on Monday, Aug. 29, offering a variety of public transportation options for Ramonans.

Three types of FLEX services will be offered: the Route 371 morning and afternoon commutes from Ramona to Escondido and back (replacing Route 386 with a few changes), the FLEX 372 mid-day service between Ramona and Escondido, and the FLEX 370 local service that will operate on Tuesdays.

NCTD is contracting with American Logistics Company to provide different types of vehicles for transportation, depending upon the number of riders, to help make the service more cost-effective.

Due to rising costs, NCTD officials also said they had to increase fares.

Alex Wiggins, communications director for NCTD, said increased ridership would help offset operating costs. He has been working with the Ramona Transportation Action Committee (RTAC), which has stressed Ramona’s need for mobility, to establish and promote the services.

“Ultimately to maintain mobility for Ramona, I think we have to collaborate to make this work,” said Wiggins.

He added that he is open to any group that would want to partner with the transportation agency.

As a convenience for riders, NCTD plans to offer 10-ticket pass books that can be purchased in advance. Wiggins said he is looking for a retailer in Ramona who would sell the pre-purchase ticket books. Any retailer interested may contact Wiggins at 760-966-6793.

More information and maps of the routes can be obtained by going to www.gonctd.com/userfiles/file/Flex%20Services%20FAQ.pdf.

Following are details of the three types of FLEX service.

FLEX 371: Ramona Rush-Hour Service

NCTD is streamlining the BREEZE Route 386 to create FLEX Route 371. A 13-passenger van provided by American Logistics will be used for this route, based on the average ridership.

The van will leave from the Ramona station bench in front of Kmart, 1855 Main St., with trips to Escondido at 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. One morning trip from the Escondido Transit Center will depart at 5:45 a.m. for Ramona.

In the afternoon, trips from the Escondido Transit Center will depart at 4:05 and 5:40 p.m. to Ramona. A van from Ramona to Escondido will leave at 4:50 p.m.

Route 371 will use the existing 386 route between the Escondido Transit Center and the corner of Valley Parkway and Ash Street. It will then use Ash Street (state Route 78) between Valley Parkway and San Pasqual Valley Road. Between the transit center and the Ramona station the stops are: Ash Street and Grand Avenue, state Route 78 and Safari Park, Route 78 at San Pasqual Academy, and Route 78 and Weekend Villa Road.

Route 371 will not enter the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and will only stop inside San Pasqual Academy with a reservation at least 30 minutes in advance. No other reservations are required for this route. Seating will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

One-way cash fare is $5 for adults and $2.50 for senior/disabled/Medicare riders. Monthly Coaster passes are accepted. Wiggins said the monthly Coaster pass will be a better buy at $120 for adults who commute more than 12 days a month and $41.25 for senior/disabled/Medicare riders who travel more than eight days a month. The only day pass that will be accepted is the $14 Region Plus Day Pass, however, it will not be available for purchase on the vehicle.

FLEX 372: Ramona Mid-Day Service

This is a reservation-only service. NCTD will operate one late morning trip on Route 372 departing Escondido at 11:30 a.m. to Ramona and departing Ramona at 1 p.m. to Escondido. Destinations in Escondido include the transit center and street addresses along Valley Parkway and Grand Avenue between the transit center and Ash Street. Reservations must be made at least 30 minutes in advance by calling 855-844-1454.

Depending upon the reservation, travel may be by taxicab, minivan or a 10-passenger van. One-way cash fare will be $10 for adults and $5 for senior/disabled/Medicare riders. Day and monthly passes will not be accepted on Route 372.

FLEX 370: Ramona Local Service

This service will operate on Tuesdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. by reservation only. The NTCD service will travel anywhere within a designated zone in Ramona. That zone stretches from Sawday Street on the west to Montecito and Olive Streets on the north to Third Street (including the Ramona Community Center) on the east. The south end of the zone is bordered by Teleford Lane, Bargar Place, Hanson Lane, Boundary Avenue and Etcheverry Street.

Reservations must be made at least 30 minutes in advance by calling 855-844-1454. A one-way cash fare is $5 for adults and $2.50 for senior/disabled/Medicare. The $14 Region Plus Day Pass will be accepted but will not be available on the vehicle. Monthly passes will also be accepted.

   
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