Eastern Sierra Transit Authority is rolling out its latest cost-savings plan – literally.
In order to save money and continue offering daily service to residents, Checkpoint buses will begin picking up residents at fixed locations and taking them to their chosen destinations next week.
In addition to picking riders up at their door, the new Dial-a-Ride program has established “checkpoints,” or regular pickup locations throughout Bishop. The change is part of ESTA’s move away from the fixed-route service structure, which officials have said is too costly – and in many ways inefficient – for the use it actually gets.
After a series of public hearings held in July, the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority Board of Directors decided last month to eliminate the Bishop Fixed Route Services but add to the Dial-A-Ride services.
The idea is to become more efficient and save costs, but hopefully make up the difference with added discounted Dial-A-Ride services.
With the new system, “there is no need to call ahead,” Transit Analyst Jill Batchelder said in a press release. “Passengers just need to look for the checkpoint signs at designated locations and be at the bus stop location at the departure time. Checkpoint Dial-a-Ride offers the convenience of a fixed route and the personal service of the Dial-a-Ride.”
Batchelder said ESTA will be saving money through the Checkpoint bus because it will be operating when and where the demand is, and will not waste man hours and fuel operating fixed routes during slow periods.
Back in August, the ESTA Board decided to eliminate the Thursday Benton to Bishop Route, the Friday Walker Dial-A-Ride route, the first-Saturday-of-the-month Lone Pine to Bishop and the Saturday Mammoth Express routes.
The last day for Fixed Route services in Bishop was Friday, Sept. 10.
The new Dial-a-Ride system operates like a fixed route in that it stops at designated locations, but, as opposed to the fixed routes, the Dial-a-Ride bus will continue taking passengers to their specified destination.
The bus will stop at the Vons/Kmart parking lot every hour from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; at the Paiute Palace Casino at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.; Joseph’s Bi-Rite Market at 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.; 156 Clark St. at 12:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.; and at Northern Inyo Hospital at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The bus will operate Monday through Friday.
“Check Point Dial-a-Ride fares are $1.50 for adults and only $1 for seniors, disabled and youth,” Batchelder said. “That is a $1 discount off of regular Dial-a-Ride fares.”
Traditional Dial-a-Ride services will continue being offered, including on weekends from 8:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
For more information about the route elimination, visit www.easternsierratransitauthority.com  or call (760) 872-1901.