Nearly 20 BurbankBus riders packed City Hall Tuesday night to protest possible cuts to transportation services for seniors and disabled residents.
Their tactic worked.
City officials had held out the option of cutting the BurbankBus program — in which seniors and disabled passengers can call for free pickup and transit — to save money and fund the Got Wheels! youth transit service. But many who benefit from the program came out Tuesday night to support what they said was a vital source of transportation.
“If you took the Burbank transportation away from us, you would take my lifeline away from me,” said 56-year-resident Norma Banker. “I use it for all my medical, dental, grocery shopping and for my life. I use it for my life to live here in Burbank.”
Pamela Ramseyer told the council that many people use the service to reach the Joslyn Adult Center, one of the only places they can get a decent free meal.
The City Council acquiesced to the crowd’s demands, forcing city officials to focus on alternatives for maintaining the Got Wheels! program, which was created to encourage Burbank youth between the ages of 10 and 18 to move between youth-oriented sites after school and during the summer.
The program is currently paid for by county transportation funds, but city officials say they believe expenditures will deplete funding sources by as early as next year.
Alternatives include contracting out Got Wheels! and opening it up to the public, contracting all transportation services, retiring all city vehicles, streamlining the service and reducing service levels to the youth, senior and disabled transportation. The options could save the city between $100,000 to $160,000 annually.
Council members also suggested implementing a nominal fare and advertising, as well as even some out-of-the-box proposals, such as using funding for public art to decorate the buses.
“If we could justify transit as art and the bus is a moving sculpture, maybe,” said principle transportation planner David Kriske.