CALABASAS : Student Crusades for Better Bus Service

A college student from Calabasas who hopes to forge a career as a transportation expert has launched a crusade to improve bus service for this city and the surrounding area.

Mike Barnbaum, who attends Cuesta College in Santa Barbara, believes he has a better plan than one drafted by the Metropolitan Transit Agency to improve the area's bus service.

"Many of us are displeased with what is being proposed," Barnbaum told the Calabasas City Council recently.

Barnbaum, who recently served an internship with the MTA, will present his proposal during a public hearing Saturday at the MTA's administration center in Van Nuys. He met Thursday with Mark Dierking, a spokesman for the MTA, to discuss his proposal.

Dierking said Barnbaum helped draft the MTA proposal that the student now opposes.

"Mike has been involved in the process for a long time now, and I'm confused as to why he's concerned, frankly," said Dierking. "Mike was at several of the 47 public hearings we had on the plan."

The MTA's proposal would add weekend service and increase the frequency of some buses during peak hours, but otherwise changes to routes would be minor. The MTA's existing bus route through Calabasas runs Monday through Friday along a route that roughly parallels the Ventura Freeway.

Barnbaum proposes extending service to Calabasas Park, for the benefit of maids who must walk long distances from Parkway Calabasas to get to work. His proposal also includes extending service to Calabasas High School and to Mulwood, a residential area near the school. And he proposes that the MTA extend service to an area along Las Virgenes Road near Lost Hills Road.

Barnbaum is urging supporters to join him at the hearing on Saturday. The problem, he said, is that people who depend on buses for transportation won't be able to get there because Calabasas now has no weekend bus service.

"I would like to make the system so that people could go where they would like to go, when they need to go," said Barnbaum.

The mayor and members of the Calabasas City Council responded to Barnbaum's proposal favorably. They would like even more service than what he has proposed. "It's a start," said Mayor Karyn Foley.

Calabasas recently joined 10 other cities in funding the salary of a consultant who will lobby the MTA in an effort to improve services to those cities.

Dierking said he welcomed input from the cities. "There is a lot of leeway," he said. "We can work with the city of Calabasas."

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