The Bus is back.
After more than nine months of complaints from senior citizens over the elimination of part of a Sunland-Tujunga bus route, transit officials have agreed to restore it, Los Angeles City Councilman Joel Wachs announced Thursday.
Last July, the Southern California Rapid Transit District discontinued a section of Los Angeles-bound Line 9091 off Foothill Boulevard that stretched along Sherman Grove Avenue and Fenwick Street before heading west to Foothill. RTD officials said that it took too long to travel the difficult-to-maneuver loop.
But the move enraged numerous senior citizens who attend a park recreation center, as well as other younger residents who live near the park. Users of a neighborhood post office, convalescent home, halfway house and schools also complained.
At a news conference, several senior citizen leaders said dozens of seniors have stopped coming to the recreation center for nutrition programs and arts and crafts classes. One elderly woman recently fell and was injured while walking the longer stretch to reach the bus. Other senior citizens found it more difficult to lug bags of groceries on the longer route.
They said the rerouting of the bus forced them to walk more than half a mile around Sunland Park to reach the new bus stop. Some were fearful of the walk because the park is frequented by homeless people and panhandlers.
Wachs, who represents the Sunland-Tujunga area, accused the RTD of being insensitive.
“This is the focal part of Sunland-Tujunga,” Wachs said during a tour of the route area. “They just decided to take the bus away without any warning or explanation, instead of seeing what they could do to keep the service.”
Wachs and members of the American Assn. of Retired Persons (AARP) lobbied RTD board members and President Nikolas Patsaouras to restore the route. City Department of Transportation staff members were instructed to institute parking restrictions along the loop and to re-stripe the street to make it easier for the buses to traverse the route.
Wachs said he expects the bus to be running in three to four weeks.
Joe Adams, 66, past president of the AARP who lives on the loop, said he was pleased.
“This is the best thing that could have happened,” he said. “The people around here thought they had done something wrong. Now they’ll be happy again.”