In last week’s letters section, Amy Cutter asked for an explanation as to why there is no longer a bus stop at Lupin Street. At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Mammoth Lakes Mobility Commission’s agenda included an unscheduled stop at Lupin, perhaps the only official likely to visit the street anytime soon.
Cutter, a Lupin Street resident for more than 10 years, pointed to what she said has become a problem since the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) took over the local transit system. “The appearance is that ESTA could easily add the stop back in without much trouble,” Cutter wrote. “For the businesses along the frontage road and homeowners on Mono and Lupin Street this is a hardship.” Apart from other concerns she voiced about the rehabilitation of Frontage Road, and the infrastructure that went into the walkways and related bus stops, she also griped about the unceremonious change in routes, which Cutter said she learned about while on her way home from a Village event.
“The driver was adamant that there was no bus stop at the Lupin Street intersection. Being dark, it was difficult to determine our exact location. Suffice to say, we had to depart at Manzanita. Later the next week, I contacted ESTA requesting answers to the above questions to understand what happened to the stop and why the public was never notified of the route change. I am still waiting,” Cutter wrote.
ESTA Director John Helm told the Commission that an e-mail was sent around to the Commission regarding the transit stop on Main Street adjacent to Lupin St. He also related the stop’s history, recalling that there were 2 stops there, including one on the next block, near Lupin and Frontage Road (by Main Street). Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (MMSA), the Town of Mammoth Lakes and ESTA meet regularly to better coordinate efforts. With all the entities’ various issues involving multiple buses and the associated merging into traffic, Helm said it was determined “unsafe to have that many stops that close together.”
Representatives from MMSA informed the Commission that at least two buses were hit in winter traffic due to the close proximity of stops, and that was without a stop at Lupin. Another stop further uphill was chosen for safety and better traffic flow, thus the deletion of the Lupin stop.
Helm said he understands Cutter’s reasoning for why there should be a stop at Lupin, instead of having to walk further to Joaquin, for example. “Unfortunately, there’s really no good way to please everyone in this situation,” he said. “If the stop at Lupin were to be reinstated, some folks on Lupin would be happy, but others on Joaquin who lost their stop would be annoyed.”
Another question Cutter asked in her letter was, “At which Mobility Commission or public meeting was this topic discussed and voted upon?” The simple answer to this one is, “It wasn’t.”
Apparently the Mobility Commission agreed that it had little or nothing to do with the issue. Town Transportation Manager Bill Manning said it wasn’t considered a policy issue, but rather a simple business [i.e. administrative] decision. “We have to acknowledge that we probably weren’t briefed on it, and I don’t think we were,” Hogan added.
“I’m not sure it would have occurred to us even if we had been briefed on it,” observed Commissioner John Vereuck. According to Hogan, if the commission had known about it, members would probably have rubber stamped it through anyway.
She did say as a matter of procedure, it might be a good idea for the trio of organizations to brief the Mobility Commission on any such moves in the future.
“The idea has always been to make service as efficient and helpful as possible for everyone,” commented the Town’s Brian Picken. “There are three stops [in that area] that are safety concerns, and we have stops at two of them. Ridership continues to go up, so we think we did something right.”
Helm told Commissioners there are no plans to revisit the issue or to reinstate the stop at Lupin, and the Commission concurred, opting to leave the matter at that and move on.
In other activity … the Commission discussed a recent Sierra Valley Sites survey of options for access to Manzanita Rd. as part an ongoing Traffic Management Workshop. The Town is backing a pedestrian option for a longer sidewalk season and better drainage. Most residents (9 out of 14) who responded to an informal survey conducted by neighborhood resident Gary Small (see Small’s related letter on page four) said they preferred a one-way option with a single 16-foot lane and 8 feet of shoulder.
The Town’s position is that a one-way street will lead to more traffic problems by routing vehicles in a single directon. Small and others wish to reduce “cut-through” traffic.
Small also disagreed with Commissioner Eric Wasserman, who indicated he thinks the survey was “skewed” as well as incomplete. Wasserman believed the survey takers were mostly self-selected. Wasserman lives on Manzanita and said he was never approached by anyone to participate.