Glendora is a suburb of Los Angeles with a population of just over 50,000. The city is cut in half by the 210 freeway and has two main east/west arterials running through it. Built around the car, Glendora continues to be a city with residents who value their single-occupancy vehicles. Each household has an average of 2.6 cars. The challenge, as with many Los Angeles suburbs, is how to shift the way the community thinks about travelling from point A to point B from a single occupancy vehicle to a mode that is much more environmentally friendly.
Seven years ago recreation staff from the city’s Teen Center and transportation staff came together to discuss the issue of Glendora’s auto-centric culture. Working together they created a strategy to teach a generation of future drivers how to use public transportation throughout the city. The Teen Center was looking to boost its attendance and needed a safe, reliable way to get Glendora’s youth to the center, while the transportation division was looking for a way to engage and excite the community about public transportation services. Together they decided to provide a shuttle service for Glendora’s youth.
The Teen Center and transportation staff embarked on an effort to gather information and feedback from the community. Staff distributed and collected surveys from parents and students to gauge their interest, met with the Glendora and Charter Oak School Districts, and discovered a strong interest towards city-provided transportation services to the Teen Center.
After almost two years of development, outreach and logistics planning, transportation staff was able to provide resources to start running Glendora’s very first Teen Shuttle service for the 2011–12 school year. This service began as a point-to-point shuttle service providing trips from three different middle school locations directly to the Teen Center. Shuttles were scheduled to pick up at designated Teen Shuttle bus stop locations at the end of each school day to take students directly to the Teen Center for afterschool enrichment and entertainment.
The initial users were teens who already attended the Teen Center. Ridership was small but the shuttle was serving its intended purpose — to provide safe and reliable transportation and to inspire the community’s youth to use public transit as a way to independently travel from point A to point B within the city.
The Teen Shuttle was ultimately renamed the Midday Teen Center Shuttle, with established routes and additional stops at popular youth locations. As the city’s most successful public transit shuttle, the Midday Teen Center Shuttle has become a model for future fixed-route services and helped create interest in public transportation across the community.
The transportation division was able to run the pilot year of the Glendora EXPRESS city bus loop in the summer of 2015, which youth and adults use as transportation to get to the movies, stores and medical appointments. By providing public transit services, the city is moving towards its goal of steering the next generation away from single occupancy vehicles as they near driving age and encouraging them to use public transit services in Glendora and throughout the greater Los Angeles region.
Ridership totaled approximately 2,340 passengers during the 2011–12 school year of Teen Shuttle service, approximately 4,500 passengers in the 2012–13 school year, and 5,760 passengers in the 2013–14 school year, reflecting a slow but steady increase. Since then, ridership has grown enough to warrant one shuttle bus on each route, with the shuttle’s very first group of 6th grade riders now moving on to high school.
Ridership over the years has skyrocketed and teens are now using shuttles to not only get to the Teen Center, but to travel home, visit businesses in the Downtown Village and travel to tutoring sessions at the library. When the school year ended last spring, approximately 13,500 passengers had used the shuttles, which is more than double the ridership from previous year.
This article was originally published by the League of California Cities.