Residents come out in snow storm to plead for ESTA’s Gray Line
“This is a very snowy night out there, and this is one of the biggest crowds” to gather in Suite Z, said Mayor Shields Richardson at the beginning of Wednesday’s Mammoth Town Council Meeting. The majority of the audience was there to ask Council to reinstate the recently-cancelled Gray Line bus service.
The Gray Line, which ran as far as Red Fir Road off of Old Mammoth Road, was terminated on December 16. It was replaced by an expanded trolley route, John Helm, Director of Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA), told The Sheet on Tuesday. “Specifically in the evening … there was nothing serving that whole center area of town,” said Helm, referring to Meridian Blvd, where the former Gray Line ceased service at 6 p.m.
“There was a big service gap and ESTA looked to find a way to fill that. What we proposed was to modify the town trolley route to include service up Meridian and out to Juniper Springs Resort,” said Helm. The plan, he said, was to use the money that had originally funded the Gray Line to pay for the new route.
The Sheet reported on December 10 that the decision to end the Gray Line was made with little fanfare, and many of those who used the line say they had no idea it was being discontinued. Council had approved “additional funding to ESTA in an amount not to exceed $150,000 … to implement enhancements to the Meridian Boulevard trolley route” at its November 2 meeting. The Sheet did not find evidence of the change in the meeting minutes, and Dawn Schultz, who owns the Edelweiss Lodge on Old Mammoth Road, combed the recorded video of the meeting for mention of the Gray Line’s end. “Nowhere does it say the Gray Route will be affected,” she told The Sheet in December.
“I’ve heard that concern voiced,” Helm told The Sheet on Tuesday. “Several weeks before the [November 2] Council meeting it was discussed at the Planning and Economic Development Commission (PEDC). A week after that it was at an ESTA board meeting. All these are public meetings…”
Helm said that public outreach was done in the form of signs at the bus stops informing riders of the change, and fliers handed out to school-aged children who ride the bus in both English and Spanish. One of the stops eliminated was in front of Aspen Village, an affordable housing complex on Old Mammoth Road.