FARMERSVILLE – The strike that is halting transit services in Visalia has also put a pause on services in the smaller, surrounding towns that rely on Visalia Transit for their bus routes.
Transdev bus workers, who are contracted by Visalia Transit, took to the streets on July 8 to strike for better pay and benefits. The ongoing Transdev strike hasn’t just created transportation stoppages in Visalia, however; it has also created issues for smaller cities such as Exeter and Farmersville, which rely on Visalia Transit for the bus routes in town.
The Sun-Gazette contacted Visalia Transit to confirm what routes are being directly impacted, but did not hear back as of press time. However, Farmersville City Council member Greg Gomez spoke on some of the ways the disruption in services is impacting Farmersville.
“There’s two routes that go through our city,” Gomez said. “One of them services our senior housing complex on the south end of town to service their needs.”
Many of the cities surrounding Visalia are unaffected by the Transdev strike because they get their transportation services through the Tulare County Regional Transit Agency (TCRTA). The TCRTA is a consolidation of County agencies that oversees transportation funding in the county, as a joint powers agreement between the transit agencies in the county.
The city of Visalia, however, opted out of joining the TCRTA and instead chose to continue contracting with Transdev through their own transit agency.
“We are a member (of the TCRTA) but we aren’t paying anything into it yet because we’re still using up credits with Visalia,” Farmersville City Manager Jennifer Gomez said. “I don’t know how much longer our credit (with Visalia Transit) will last. Once that has come to an end, we’ll work things out with TCRTA.”
The city of Farmersville has continued to use Visalia Transit because they have existing credit with Visalia which means they won’t have to spend more on bus services until their credits are used up. This makes using Visalia Transit services the most cost-effective option until their credits are gone.
Farmersville and Exeter are both part of TCRTA but according to Jennifer Gomez, both cities that share one of the routes, are being negatively impacted by the strike since all their routes are currently shut down.
“We haven’t had bus service for three weeks, and it’s just upsetting,” Councilmember Greg Gomez said. “I drove by (a transit stop) and I saw two people – two elderly people – were waiting for the bus, and there was no notice placed on any of the bus stops that there was no bus service.”
Aside from Farmersville, the strike has had a minimal impact on other small cities that already rely on TCRTA’s services. According to Lindsay City Manager Joe Tanner, Lindsay riders are not directly impacted by the Transdev strike because they rely on TCRTA for their services.
“Our riders who might try to go to Visalia could be affected,” Tanner said. “I know they don’t have as many routes there, and riders from Lindsay – who might need buses around Visalia – won’t have transportation.”