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Traversing Mountain Roads With Friends

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Posted: Thursday, June 1, 2017 11:56 am

Roseanna Graham is a regular Mountain Transit rider who, today, was headed to Blue Jay. Graham rides the mountain’s only public transit service for a variety of reasons, some of them from a very practical standpoint.

“I don’t have a car,” Graham said, “and Mountain Transit is always on time. Everybody’s nice.”

Another regular, Annette Gonzalez, echoed those thoughts. She also doesn’t own a car, and “this is cheaper than driving a car. The drivers are friendly, and they’re almost never late. They’re definitely more punctual than down the hill.”

To get a sense of what riding Mountain Transit’s routes is like, I myself did a ride-along to talk with some of the travelers and the driver in order to get a sense of this bus system.

Mountain Transit did not disappoint. The bus was clean and the seats provided an abundance of space for bags (as well as people).

The rules, cleverly called “Rules to Ride By,” are very clearly posted and include being punctual for departure, no eating, drinking, smoking, and no radios or tape players without headsets. This makes for a courteous and fun ride for everyone.

The driver is the one who enforces the rules. For my ride-along, I was driven by Janet McLean, who has been working at Mountain Transit for a year. She’s been a professional driver for a few years, and started working for Mountain Transit because “my friends recommended the job, and they were hiring.”

McLean continues to work for Mountain Transit because “I love to drive, I love to meet new people and my office window view is always changing.”

She also mentioned that a lot of people ride regularly.

These are among the 12,000 to 15,000 riders per month who ride Mountain Transit, according to their official website mountaintransit.org. This is dispersed between fixed routes, Dial-A-Ride and off-the-mountain bus services within a service area of several hundred miles.

There are three main routes encompassing Rim of the World, although Mountain Transit does offer Big Bear services, as well. This includes Routes 2 and 4 and Rim Off-the-Mountain Services.

Route 4 services Running Springs to Lake Arrowhead and runs Monday through Friday. Rim Off-the-Mountain services Lake Arrowhead, Crestline and San Bernardino down the hill.

Route 2 is “one of our main connection routes,” said Tiffany Millburn, outreach coordinator for Mountain Transit. It services Valley of Enchantment (VOE), Crestline and Lake Arrowhead. Millburn continued, “You can get from VOE to the Village and do your shopping.”

Recently, Route 2 saw some changes. “In November, we started running it on Saturday [and it does] better on Saturday than it does the rest of the week,” Millburn said.

This is especially important because, according to Millburn, “Previously, here in the Rim area especially, on the weekends there was no way to ride the bus to get connected. If you wanted to do stuff up here, the only thing you could do was book a Dial-a-Ride on Saturday. Route 2 is kind of a big deal.”

Fares are inexpensive and fairly priced. Riders can choose one-time fares or buy a day pass and ride the whole day. If your car breaks down and you need a way to get around, you can also buy a pass for the week. Transferring is ‘cheap and easy.’

Now, even more new and exciting things are coming to Mountain Transit in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

According to Millburn, Mountain Transit is going to start a trolley service in May to cover the concert series in Lake Arrowhead. The trolley will start in Top Town in Crestline, travel through Lake Gregory, Blue Jay and Twin Peaks, and make stops at the Tudor House and Santa’s Village, as well.

“The trolley goes a long way in relieving congestion,” Millburn said.

It’s also a cheap and easy way to get around the mountain for the weekend. Millburn emphasized that ticket pricing will be $5 for the entire weekend.

She added, “It’s going to start in the evenings and, even though the trolley is running from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., you can still ride Route 2 all day to connect. Just jump on the trolley to get back to Lake Arrowhead.”

From start to finish, my ride was relaxing and fun. I have to say that one of the greatest perks of riding Mountain Transit is being able to admire and enjoy our mountain views along the way.

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