When Eva Toledo learned that Greyhound was canceling its eight daily stops in Thousand Oaks, her thoughts turned to the dozens of passengers she sold tickets to each month.
Many of the passengers were bound for Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Tijuana and points in between. Some were local laborers relying on the longest-running nationwide bus service in the United States to take them home for weekends with their families, Toledo said.
But as of April 3, the bus company ended service in Thousand Oaks, Petaluma, Davis and 61 other small and mid-size California communities.
The cuts are the second phase of Greyhound Lines' network transformation -- a move to eliminate unprofitable routes nationwide. In all, Greyhound discontinued service to 150 locations in California, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri.
In the first round, the Dallas-based company eliminated 267 stops in its Northwest sector, spanning from Seattle to Chicago. More route cuts are planned in the Southeast, Midwest and Northeast, an official said.
In 91 years on the road, the bus company with the running-dog logo has motored into American history. It was named the official bus carrier of the 1939 World's Fair, transported troops during World War II and carried the Freedom Riders into the Deep South to protest segregation in the 1960s.
With an average ticket price of $38, travel by Greyhound has long been valued for its accessibility and affordability.
"I am very worried for my customers," Toledo said from behind a desk at Acapulco Travel, where, aside from making travel arrangements, she sells prepaid phone cards and offers notary and money-wiring services. "There are many people calling for Greyhound. In this place, there are no trains. This is the only bus."
From Thousand Oaks, the next closest Greyhound stops are 22 and 30 miles away, in Oxnard and North Hollywood. The closest train stop is in Moorpark, 12 miles away.
Toledo gathered 60 signatures from passengers and asked the company to reconsider its decision to cut the Thousand Oaks stop, where nearly 900 passengers boarded the bus in the last year and more than 2,000 disembarked. Greyhound had been stopping in Thousand Oaks since the 1930s.
The company lost $140 million over 2002 and 2003 and has seen a steady decline in passengers since the summer of 2001, said Greyhound spokeswoman Kim Plaskett.
"We basically changed up our system because it was an inefficient and ineffective use of our resources," she said, adding that no tickets were sold last year at three-fourths of the 64 eliminated stops, including Carpinteria, Fortuna and Point Mugu.
An average of two tickets a week was sold in Baker in San Bernardino County, and only one ticket was sold all last year in Applegate Junction near Sacramento.
Many of the canceled stops were just street corners or drop-off sites. And most are within 15 to 20 miles of another Greyhound location. Riders in Leggett will have to travel 99 miles to Eureka to catch a bus.
"By creating these smaller, simpler routes ... we are actually able to increase our profitability while at the same time better serving the needs of our customers," she said. "Faster trips with fewer stops were the key attributes that customers told us were important to them."
Today's Greyhound travelers are primarily interested in trips of less than 450 miles, Plaskett said.
But the convenience of having a Greyhound stop in their town was important to Paula Goodwin-Jones and her 20-year-old daughter, Lauren.
Goodwin-Jones said she would often take her Santa Barbara-bound daughter to the Thousand Oaks stop.
"It's going to strand a lot of people," said Goodwin-Jones, who now plans to drop of her daughter at the train station at Moorpark. "They've lost our business."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
No more stops
Greyhound Lines ended bus service to 64 California locations April 3 in the second phase of its region-by-region network transformation, which slashed service to 150 sites in the bus company's Southwest sector.
Cisco Grove Turnout
Monterey Transit Center
San Francisco Airport
Soda Springs Turnout
Vandenberg Air Force Base
Source: Greyhound Lines Inc.