YOLO SUN OPINION :

Yolo County’s bus chief, for almost 30 years the brilliant, visionary, driving force behind its public transportation system, desires it to have carried the equivalent of the current population of California (now ~37 million) before he retires. At the present time, YoloBus is fast approaching 30 million passengers (since 1982), far surpassing the population of Texas.

While those figures are immense, consider the fact that YoloBus has already provided almost 300 million passenger miles, 11,495 times around the world riding separately.

Terry Bassett, when he finally achieves this goal of matching the whole state population in total YoloBus rides and attempts to retire, will be impossible to replace. His presence is synonymous with this county transit system, spending his career for its building. YoloBus was recently selected as one of the very best systems in the entire United States.

Basset manages such exemplary progress of YoloBus under the motto: “Improved Service Equals Increased Ridership” – engaging matters from Capay Valley and Cache Creek Casino to an accessory street-car system in West Sacramento, from Dunnigan and Knights Landing throughout Woodland and Davis, as well as diverse Sacramento and Metro-Airport services.

On every subject of importance for optimization of YoloBus services, Bassett conceives / orchestrates and implements upon the leading edge of transit system design and performance, the reason YoloBus attains so superior a ranking in national evaluations.

Basset indicates YoloBus has no knowledge of the source(s) of its latest successful nomination for a nationally distinguished award.

YoloBus is one of the only transit systems to be renovating its own buses, which saves money and actually facilitates key operational customization. After a dozen years and 500,000 miles of use, buses require replacement or renovation. For Bassett, this basic challenge produces an opportunity for conversion to optimized performance, practically doubling the use-life of its buses while improving various aspects of public services.

YoloBus is regional leader in use of natural-gas powered buses, although Bassett comments that the newest diesel technology is greatly improved. YoloBus’ natural gas fueling facility is also used by natural-gas powered vehicles operated by the local affiliate of Waste Management. Work now underway will install a bio-diesel fueling station at expanded bus facilities.

YoloBus functions 21 hours per day (~5 am to 2 am) and possesses 60 buses, some seating 57 persons; yet, it has a total staff of only 126, 115 related to Veolia (a huge, multi-national company). In this regard, our transit system is a model of successful contracting with private business. Bassett describes that Veolia is contending for participation in the new Davis-Woodland Surface Water Project. Water and transportation systems are two specialties of this enormous international corporation.

Bassett expresses serious concern regarding an impending congressional proposal to slash federal transportation funding by 30% to 35%, which could reduce revenue within YoloBus’ annual operating budget of $11 million, by almost half a million dollars. Bassett doesn’t see any happy way to implement such a drastic cut.

Solarization of YoloBus facilities is one of Bassett’s plans, including now expending state grant funding for solar-lighting at bus shelters, and he is hoping to soon receive federal grant money for placing solar panels on top of garage shelters for its buses.

Bus shelters are big with Bassett, as is their lighting. YoloBus will soon be creating brand new bus shelters in the county, about half of them installed in Woodland, with upgraded (solar) lighting for its transit connection hub at County Faire Mall.

Another innovative funding program used by Bassett supports reduced-fares for youth during summer months. Only $15 per month permits unlimited ridership for local juveniles; or, they may pay only 35 cents per ride (contrasted with regular $2 – $3 bus fares).

Bassett is investigating ways to offer similar deep youth-discounts throughout the school year, recognizing that habituating adolescents toward using public transportation will reap very important cultural and environmental dividends into the (somewhat uncertain) future.

YoloBus recently embarked upon a considerable expansion of its facilities, greatly delighting Bassett, because YoloBus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, clerks and other staff will finally have access to the level of employee services they deserve, like convenient group / lunch rooms, restrooms and locker rooms.

New facilities will also offer improved amenities to riders conducting business at the facility, provide YoloBus room to park and maintain more buses and greatly enhance public information through a more sophisticated server (computer) room.

Whatever is needed for optimization of YoloBus services, has been and will be Terry Bassett’s devoted focus, for another eight (or so) million bus rides. Happy retirement for Bassett will then in part consist of our ensuring that his successor is his equal.

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