Organizers seek funding to make the shuttle a possible permanent feature
By Galen Patterson
On Sept. 28 Arcadia sponsored a small fleet of buses to take nature-goers from the Metro Gold Line station in Arcadia to the trail head at Chantry Flat in celebration of National Public Lands Day.
Sept. 28 was an overcast, rainy day in the San Gabriel Valley, even more so in the mountains, but nearly 250 people rode the shuttle from central Arcadia to Chantry Flat in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Arcadia set aside four buses to run that day. Three were tasked with running the loop from the station to the trail head, while one was intended to be kept in reserve in case one of the buses broke down. “We ended up deploying all four for the day,” said Linda Hui, transportation services manager for the City of Arcadia.
The buses ran all day in a continuous loop for 10 hours, according to Hui.
The program was organized by Bryan Matsumoto of Nature for All, a San Gabriel Valley-based group devoted to getting people to experience the San Gabriel Mountains and other public lands.
Matsumoto spoke to the City Council in Arcadia on Oct. 15, where he presented the council with his data collected from the event.
“If you don’t have a car, you can’t get to the mountains,” Matsumoto said.
A majority of the participants were visiting Chantry Flat for the first time.
“To have 250 people on a rainy day is kind of incredible,” said Matsumoto.
Originally, the U.S. Forest Service had a grant available to test the project in October of 2016. The program ran for three weeks.
Arcadia was offered to help pilot the program in early 2016 but during the time of the event the transportation department was undergoing a serious restructuring and could not take on the task, according to Hui.
Three years later, the project came back and this time a deal could be reached with transportation services.
The project is considered to be successful by Nature for All, Transportation Services in Arcadia and Metro, who monitored the results closely.
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Phenomenal! 247 people rode the Chantry Flat Transit to Trails Shuttle we organized, even in the rain! Thanks to City of Arcadia's awesome sponsorship & excellent partners: @nationalforests @angelesforest @rei . Almost every shuttle driver had never been to the #SanGabrielMountains before. They were in awe. . @angeles_ico brought youth for their first #sturtevantfalls hike. @nationalforests led a volunteer work day and riders loved the #trafficfree #carfreeday. @metrolosangeles @metrolink great job sharing the #news . Who wants more #AllAboardforNature ! . More pics to come, share your #AllAboardforNature #latergrams! . #changinglives #accesstonature #diversifyoutdoors #transittoparks #transittotrails #exploreoutdoors #nationalpubliclandsday . @latimes #pasadenastarnews @arcadiaweekly @abc7la @ktla5news @nbcla #spectrumnews1socal @kpcc @kcrw #kpfk
The project now faces funding issues on its way to permanency.
Hui says Arcadia’s transportation services have very little room to adjust before they begin to take away from other transportation programs.
Matsumoto says the burden should not fall exclusively on Arcadia when the whole county would be benefitting from the service.
He encouraged the City to take further action at the Oct. 15 City Council meeting.
“I want the service to be able to reach people who wouldn’t normally think about going,” said Hui in an interview with Arcadia Weekly.
Matsumoto also thinks the shuttle would provide Arcadia with added attraction to the Downtown part of the city, which is currently in plans to experience something of a renaissance with the hopes of the food hall on Huntington drawing attention to the area.
“I know my friends and I after a day of hiking or camping want to eat a huge meal and have some beers at a place like Matt Denny’s for example,” Matsumoto told Arcadia Weekly in an email.
Collected data from the project suggests more than 75 percent of the riders would be willing to pay a small fee to keep the service available on a permanent basis.
Currently, both Nature for All and Transportation Services are looking for funding solutions for the project, but no items have yet been submitted to the council.