Dial-a-Ride services have been available in Big Bear since 1978, though the Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority, or MARTA, was implemented in 1993, through a joint powers agreeement between the City of Big Bear Lake and the County of San Bernardino. The City and the County oversee MARTA with a five-member board, which includes Big Bear Lake City Council members Liz Harris and Bill Jahn, County appointees David Leach of Big Bear and Lex Sensenbrenner, and fifth, at-large member Terisa Bonito (who, with Sensenbrenner, represents the mountain communities to the west of Big Bear). MARTA’s General Manager Kathy Hawksford, who gave an overview of the transit authority to City Council at their March 23 meeting, says that MARTA currently has 23 buses and one trolley. Each year, MARTA has about 166,000 riders with a monthly average of 13,500 passengers, though this number tends to go up in the winter months. As of February, MARTA offers three trips off the mountain from Big Bear each weekday, and $1/ride fixed route bus service, which runs at 30-minute intervals along Big Bear Boulevard. Dial-a-Ride, the initial offering that started it all, is still available in Big Bear though, Hawksford pointed out, is geared toward seniors and disabled patrons; however, for bus riders who live more than a ¼ mile from a fixed route stop, Dial-a-Ride is available, by appointment. MARTA services are in large part funded by the government—at the local, state and federal level—though Hawksford anticipates that cuts will be forthcoming. That said, she told City Council that MARTA’s goals are to remain fiscally sound, increase ridership, and maintain a newer fleet–as “in the past,“ she noted, “our fleet has been bandaged together.” When improved services were added in February, the prices did not increase. “Our board has authorized increases,” Hawksford said. “We’ve held on that, but it is coming.” It was due to the economy, Liz Harris said, that approved increases were not yet implemented; and, she added, “We want our friends and neighbors to know that rides are heavily subsidized.” For more on MARTA, riders can call for service at 878-5200, or visit the MARTA website.
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