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City Transit Service Getting High Marks
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If the turnout at Thursday's transit meeting in Escalon is any indication, people are pretty happy with the service they are getting.

Officials of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District, the San Joaquin Council of Governments and the City of Escalon gathered to take comments about the public transportation system in Escalon, as well as answer any questions from riders.

Hosted at the Escalon Public Library, the Thursday morning forum drew primarily just the program officials, with Escalon Dial-A-Ride driver Rita Gwin also stopping in to update them on how she feels the program is working. They also toured the Escalon bus and questioned Gwin about ridership and what she hears from riders about the service.

"I think people in Escalon are pretty happy with the transit system," said John Andoh, Transit Coordinator for the City of Escalon. "Since we added the connection to Modesto in 2002 and to Riverbank shortly after, I haven't heard many complaints."

Escalon is served by the Dial-A-Ride system, but Gwin also makes regular runs to the connector bus stops, so residents can get to points in Modesto and Riverbank.

"I do ride the buses all the time," noted Nate Knodt, Planning Manager for San Joaquin Regional Transit District. "I often go to meetings by bus, especially if I'm in Stockton."

Planning - Office Assistant Jamaal Presley has also spent some time on the buses, checking out the routes in the rural areas, and was on Gwin's bus not too long ago, he said.

"I heard all about her cowboy husband," Presley said, chuckling.

"Every third year, we have to do random surveys of the service," Knodt explained, noting that RTD officials ride the buses just as though they were regular passengers.

Gwin has served as Escalon's driver since the transit service began here in 1978. The program has gone through many changes but officials believe it is working well now, with plenty of regular riders.

"People are coming from Stockton to go all the way to Modesto," Gwin noted of some riders she has on the transfer routes.

Knodt said officials want to strive for cooperation among all the cities in the region - even crossing county lines - to provide public transit services.

"What people don't realize is, that, even if we have the money to run a service, it doesn't mean it's legal to run it with the financing we have," he said, noting that federal and state funds are often earmarked for specific needs. "We get the money where we can and run what we can with it."