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Ridership above the norm

Ryan Carter

Local traffic congestion and high gas prices helped boost Burbank

mass transit ridership by 9% between July and September, officials

said.

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Figures made available by the city’s Transportation Services

Department show that 50,888 people used Burbank Local Transit

shuttles compared to 46,798 over the same three- month period last

year.

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Burbank Local Transit includes three shuttle lines that serve the

Media District, the airport and the downtown area.

In September, 24% more people rode downtown-area buses, and 22%

more took the airport buses than in 2002. The Media District service

rose 18% last month.

“Things started picking up with the spikes in gas prices more than

12 months ago,” said Andrew Carrasco, transportation services

supervisor for Burbank Local Transit. “That was because of the higher

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gasoline prices. But there is also a lot of [traffic] congestion,

including in Burbank. A lot of the new development, including the

Empire Center and the AMC Theaters, is increasing traffic. And that

is impacting travel service around Burbank.”

Ridership, meanwhile, continues to grow, due in part to a strike

by Metropolitan Trans- portation Authority mechanics. The strike,

which started Oct. 14 and has shut down MTA bus service throughout

L.A. County, has prompted a 10% increase in ridership in the local

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airport and downtown routes and about a 5% increase in the Media

Center line, Carrasco said.

Many riders are people who work locally but ride into the city via

Metrolink, officials said.

“The traffic itself has become a catalyst to get people out of

their vehicles and into a bus,” Carrasco said.

Carrasco said that officials from the city-owned transit service

are looking at ways to meet the increasing demand in ridership. Early

next month, Burbank Local Transit will launch a pilot program for a

fixed-route service that stops at the major senior residential hubs

in the city.

Officials hope the new service reduces demand on Dial-A-Ride,

another service that provides transportation for seniors.

Dial-A-Ride has also seen its ridership go up. In seven years, the

number of users has risen from 62,000 to 84,000 last year.

Carrasco does not see a letup in the amount of congestion, and an

aging baby boomer population foreshadows increasing demand for local

public transportation.

New options, he said, could include linking transportation with

neighboring cities such as Glendale and Pasadena.


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