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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / VENTURA

Bus Stop Criticized as Too Far From Mall

September 16, 1998|MARINA MALIKOFF

The city has agreed to pay an extra $218,000 for a transit center near the Buenaventura Mall, but still has not satisfied critics, who say the bus stop is too far from the mall.

On Monday, the city agreed to raise the cost to $718,000 for the project, which includes a shelter, benches, drinking fountains, boarding areas for seven buses and a kiosk with information on bus routes and community events. Early cost estimates proved too low, prompting the city to invest more money in the project.

But advocates say the Telegraph Road site, set to open in a year, will create a hardship for seniors and disabled bus riders.

In July, Russell Murawski, 75, who is blind, timed the walk from the planned bus stop.

"It took 7.5 minutes to get to the mall, and we were 11 minutes away from a public bathroom," Murawski said, noting that there was a public restroom a few yards from the previous stop.

The city agreed to move the South Coast Area Transit bus stop to the north end of the mall, a location preferred by mall developers, when it signed the mall expansion lease with owners Macerich Buenaventura Ltd. in 1996.

City Councilman Sandy Smith said the council is looking at alternatives for people with special needs, and will consider adding a stop closer to the mall entrance or using minibuses to move passengers from the center to the mall and back.

Laura Caskey, the transit agency's director of planning and marketing, said it may be possible for a bus with a gap in its route to make a quick trip to the mall entrance.

"We are willing to do what we can to make it easier on the customers, but we need to keep in mind schedules of the buses as well," she said.

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