The Sheet reached Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) Executive Director Phil Moores on Wednesday for an update on local transit service.
Moores said ESTA is still providing most of its scheduled services in Bishop.
The Reno-Lancaster run has been downsized to twice/week.
In Mammoth, the Purple line is running from 7 a.m. ‘til 9 p.m. every day with a bus every thirty minutes.
The Trolley is also running 7 a.m. ‘til 9 p.m. every day with service every thirty minutes.
There is also Dial-A-Ride service in Mammoth as needed.
Ridership in Mammoth is averaging about 100 people per day.
To put that in perspective, Mammoth averages 900,000 riders annually, or approximately 2,500 riders per day.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area canceled all service as of March 31.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes is picking up the tab for shoulder season service in April and May.
The tab is $60,000/month although Moores said ESTA and the Town are in the process of negotiating that fee lower in the short-term to reflect stay-at-home mandates and a paucity of demand.
“We’re all taking a loss on this,” said Moores.
Mammoth Town Manager Dan Holler and Finance Director Rob Patterson deem transit an essential service.
So public transit will most definitely exist going forward.
What remains to be seen is what LOS (level of service) there will be for next year.
Moores said his budget will get hammered because ESTA is reliant on sales tax and gas tax revenues, both of which have cratered.
ESTA will be applying for CARES Act funding “so we don’t cut service next year,’ said Moores.
Moores praised his courageous drivers for continuing to go to work, and thanked Bishop Quilters for making a bunch of masks for ESTA drivers.
75% of ESTA’s drivers are over sixty years of age. Drivers over 65 are self-isolating with pay. Other drivers are sidelined because they have elderly people living at home.
ESTA ranks in the lower half of U.S. transit districts in terms of cost-per-hour to operate. Astounding when you consider it operates in California.