Commuter bus program changes to benefit riders
Customers of NTC Commuter buses will soon benefit from changes to the transportation program. According to the Victor Valley Transit Authority, riders will travel in refurbished buses, utilize a new system for obtaining their bus passes, and get around Fort Irwin on VVTA buses – which will take over the shuttle function. The changes will be implemented this month, according to the VVTA.
The refurbished buses are designed to withstand the longer driving distances that NTC Commuter riders face every day. The newer buses will have reclining seats, overhead lighting, air conditioning, and have the ability to hold up to 35 passengers. However, this is just a taste of what’s to come. According to Ron Zirges, Facility and Maintenance Director for VVTA, the VVTA has purchased commuter coaches – “Greyhound-style” buses – for the NTC Commuter program. These new commuter coaches are expected to come online anywhere between 14-18 months from now and will have many of the same features of the refurbished buses, including new conveniences, such as restrooms and Wi-Fi.
Along with the newer vehicles, VVTA has introduced the MEGA Pass. The MEGA Pass will benefit Fort Irwin workers (general public and non-Department of Defense employees), whose employers do not offer the Mass Transportation Benefit Program. The MEGA Pass is a monthly pass for $175 and will be valid for rides on NTC Commuter buses, the BV-Link connecting Barstow, Victorville, San Bernardino, county routes, and all regional fixed routes. A half-price fare is available for elderly or disabled passengers as well. To find out more information on the MEGA Pass, including how to purchase one, visit http://vvta.org/ntccommuter.html.
Department of Defense employees and military personnel, who benefit from the MTBP, will obtain their NTC Commuter Pass from on-post vending machines. The passes will be accessible with a MTBP debit card, which will be issued by the MTBP office on post. The VVTA will install vending machines in two locations on post. The first vending location will be in the entrance of the Main Exchange, specifically in the air-lock area, and the second vending machine will be located in the Starbucks at the Town Center. Participants receiving Mass Transportation Benefits will simply swipe their debit card to purchase their bus pass at one of the new vending machines each month. The NTC Commuter Pass will be a set price of $245 per month and this amount will be pre-loaded on to each participants debit card. You are encouraged to purchase a MTBP NTC commuter Pass, and by doing so, you will be supporting the entire NTC Commuter bus service. The MTBP is a centrally-funded, federal program designed to encourage the use of mass transportation for daily commutes in order to reduce Federal employees’ contribution to traffic congestion, air pollution and to expand their commuting alternatives. For more information on the MTBP, visit www.irwin.army.mil.
Lastly, the VVTA has taken over the on-post bus shuttle system. Visit the Fort Irwin and NTC Web site at www.irwin.army.mil for the updated departure times and locations.
The VVTA has really done a great job in filling the gap left when the NTC Express contract expired last year, and they are continuing to provide exceptional service to all of the employees of Fort Irwin.