Senior citizens at Rohlffs Memorial Manor turned out in force Thursday afternoon to voice questions and some complaints regarding the new VINE bus routes and the elimination of the Napa Shuttle.
Seniors peppered Tom Roberts, the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency’s manager of public transit, with such questions as: How many grocery bags can riders take on the VINE Go service, which is replacing the Napa Shuttle. They wanted improved timeliness on Route 6, which Rohlffs residents in west Napa rely on.
Since the new routes debuted on Dec. 3, Roberts said he’s received a lot of feedback, some good, some bad, and some seemingly contradictory.
“I’ve got people who have called that they’re mad a bus doesn’t go down their street any more, and I have had people who have called who complain that a bus goes down their street,” Roberts said.
NCTPA acknowledges that it won’t satisfy everyone with the new routes, Roberts said. He pledged to take feedback from Rohlffs residents and work to address the concerns and complaints.
The elimination of the Napa Shuttle provoked the most complaints, as it’s used mostly by seniors and provides door-to-door service for riders who qualify for it. Starting next year, shuttle riders will have to use VINE Go, which provides almost the same service but costs twice as much — $3 — in the city instead of $1.50 for most round-trips.
Six dollars is too expensive, shuttle riders said. Roberts said the fares have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a state law that requires NCTPA recoup at least 10 percent of the operational costs through fares. He said he would pass their concerns on to an advisory board.
Roberts said only 24 people regularly used the Napa Shuttle, which didn’t justify the costs of the service, especially when NCTPA was also investing in VINE Go. If people are physically or mentally incapable of riding the regular VINE routes they may qualify for VINE Go.
“We can’t just continue a service that’s duplicative,” Roberts said. “The vast majority of riders of VINE Go are senior citizens. It’s going to be a senior service by and large. VINE Go needs to be there for people who can’t (ride a regular bus).”
Roberts also fielded questions about the delays in Route 6. He said part of the trouble is that it’s currently serviced by older buses that have scooter- and wheelchair-lifts on the rear. It’s scheduled to get new buses this month and next that will offer the lifts at the front of the bus, which is faster.
Some Rohlffs residents said that they were displeased that Route 6 did not make a loop through Claremont Way near the intersection of Trancas and Jefferson streets. Roberts said NCTPA would work to address that as well.
“We’re not here to make it more difficult,” Roberts said. “We’re here to make it better.”
The fare charge by VINE Go has been corrected since first posting.