New bus service is set to link cities of Merced and Chowchilla

By JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH
jsmith@mercedsunstar.com
October 29, 2012 

A new bus route is starting between Chowchilla and Merced.

The city of Chowchilla recently contracted with the Merced Transportation Company to run the bus service, dubbed Chowchilla Area Transit (CAT) LINX.

"We listened to our customers who were asking for expanded and more frequent service," Chowchilla Mayor Janan Hebert said in a news release. "This new partnership also allows us to provide more responsive and consistent service for our local riders."

The service is scheduled to begin Nov. 5. Daily trips are scheduled to arrive at the Merced Transportation Center at 7:25 a.m., 12:55 p.m. and 5:05 p.m.

Bus stops in Chowchilla include the Countrywood Shopping Center, RC Wisener Park and the Save Mart on Robertson. Depending on the stop, trips are expected to take between 25 and 40 minutes.

Full schedule information is available on the city's Web site, ci.chowchilla.ca.us/catx.htm.

Merced Transit Company also operates UC Merced's CAT Tracks bus and a bus service out of the city of Madera. Chowchilla officials said they hoped the new service will provide a seamless connection from Madera all the way to UC Merced.

"We're trying to time the arrivals into Merced so that you can catch another bus," said Wayne Padilla, Chowchilla assistant city administrator. "By getting there at 7:25 a.m., there are buses at the transportation center that will get you out to the college and university by 8 a.m."

Using a federal grant, officials plan to run the new bus service for at least four months. For the first two weeks, the service will be free, and after that a one-way trip is expected to cost about $3.

Passengers will be able to purchase daily and monthly passes at the Chowchilla Civic Center and some retail outlets.

At the same time, Chowchilla's bus service will expand to include two to three buses operating Monday through Friday, except holidays. Prices and hours will remain unchanged.

A dispatcher will be on call full time to take calls for the dial-a-ride service. For more information, call (559) 665-8655.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

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