By Arnold Adler
NORWALK — A vanpool rideshare program in which a number of employees of the same company or government agency could ride together to their work destination is under consideration by the city’s Transportation Department.
“Participants would share the ride from home or one or more common pick-up locations and travel together to a common destination or work center with a similar work schedule,” said Norwalk Regional Transit Director James C. Parker.
Also proposed in the department’s 2022-24 plan is a new “microtransit” service as a supplement to the city’s Route 4 to connect Metrolink rail passengers to their final destinations — large employer worksites in Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs or Whittier — pending improvement in COVID-19 conditions, Parker said.
In a third future project, the city plans to explore the potential of a high-quality bus-based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable and cost-effective services.
Such a system could also serve as an interim alternative bridging the gap between the Green Line Station and the Norwalk-Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Station, Parker said.
“It does this through the provision of dedicated lanes, off-board fare collection, intelligent transportation systems and fast and frequent operations,” Parker said.
The three pilot programs are listed in a short-term plan for the coming three years required of all 16 county transportation agencies under the umbrella of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The City Council approved the report Nov. 16.
Municipal transit agencies that use federal funds are required to submit transportation plans periodically, Parker said.
He said the Norwalk plan does not include fare increases or changes in the city’s six bus routes.
Those routes are serviced by 33 buses and provide transportation throughout the city and to destinations in Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, El Monte, La Mirada, La Habra, Santa Fe Springs, South El Monte, Whittier, and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
In addition, Norwalk transit provides a bus service link between the Green Line Light Rail Station, southwest of Studebaker Road and Imperial Highway; and the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Transportation Center-Metrolink Station on Imperial Highway east of Bloomfield Avenue.
The transit report must include descriptions of the financial and capital improvements associated with major projects, Parker said.
He said his department received delivery of four Gillig electric buses in late June 2021 and early July 2021, the most comprehensive, advanced zero-emission buses on the market.
He said the final installation of charging equipment and new infrastructure is estimated by the end of the month. All charging stations will be installed on a new dedicated circuit deployed by Edison with its own panel, meter and service, separately from any existing panel, meter or service, Parker said.
Concerning new technology, Parker said the city transit system is well underway with its implementation of an intelligent transportation systems that will significantly enhance operations and improve the customer’s experience while providing the city with forward-looking technology solutions.
The project is expected to be completed early next year.
Parker said the city’s transit system has undergone changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The city suspended collecting fares in March 2020 and initiated a rear boarding system at the same time.
The city’s Dial-A-Ride program continues to provides curb-to-curb service for trips taken within the city using lift-equipped accessible vehicles; and weekday taxicab trips to approved medical facilities in the cities of Bellflower, Downey, Lakewood and Whittier for senior and disabled residents.
Fare revenue has been offset by funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, American Rescue Plan Act and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The city plans to resume charging bus fares in January, Parker said.
The city also will participate in a major regional effort to integrate the MTA’s Transit Access Pass system next year. The transit access pass is accepted by 26 agencies in the county.
Capital improvements in the next three years will include improvements to the operations administrative offices, the replacement of the Civic Center gate and bus wash modifications to improve access and drainage and tenant enhancements to allow for space and safe functionality and replacement of the cracked terrazzo flooring in the customer service lobby, Parker said.