In the past, CSUB’s main entrance which leads to a turn-about circle with flags in center would be seen filled with a line of buses.
Now, new transit stations allow for the buses to be parked diagonally, providing more space for the buses and clearing the up the circle.
On April 4, 2021, Golden Empire Transit began operating their buses out of their new transit station at California State University, Bakersfield on Don Hart Drive West.
The new facility includes six bus bays, allowing room for four GET buses, a GET On-Demand vehicle, and a Kern Transit vehicle.
In addition to this, there are shelters, signage, and seating at each bay. For safety purposes, there are also new street lighting and security cameras.
Lastly, there is new landscaping and bike racks.
“The project improves access to the campus for students, staff, and faculty, improves community access to the campus, improves the attractiveness of the bus facility, provides a safer more attractive facility for boarding and alighting from the bus, facilitates active transportation (integrating pedestrian, bicycle and bus improvements), expands the capacity for safe operations of transit on campus, and provides for safe transfer to Kern Transit,” Karen King, CEO of Golden Empire Transit, wrote in an email.
GET expects to see many benefits to their company and the community from this project. CSUB also has hopes that this project will bring them further benefits.
“Our hopes will be the new transit center and routes may increase the opportunity for ridership for our campus community,” Martin Williamson, chief of police and head of the transportation committee at CSUB, wrote in an email.
While construction on the project took roughly two years (completing construction in phases), the project has been in the works for over 10 years.
Various things like the planning process, discussions and agreements, obtaining approvals, financial planning, securing grants, designing the facility, selecting a contractor, various starts/stops due to design errors, and constructing when there were minimal students on campus all contributed to the length of the project.
The budget on the project was $1,214,115, which was from funded with $1,074,840 from the Federal Transit Administration and $139,275 from local funding.
Initially, they were phasing the construction throughout the span of a few years to be contained within the months of summer. However, the pandemic ended up advancing the construction.
“COVID-19 and the absence of activity on the campus actually allowed us to continue construction well past the original construction window that was planned,” King wrote.
The new facility also offers sustainability benefits. The project itself was constructed with the incorporation of sustainability practices.
“For instance, when we reconstructed the road there, we used full-depth reclamation for the road which basically reused existing road materials in place and reduced the amount of material needed to be brought in by 70% on the project,” Matt Barnes, civil engineer on the project, said in a YouTube video from GET entitled “CSUB Transit Center Ribbon Cutting.”
“Then also just by increasing the traffic flow in the area, we’ve reduced idling time as well to help reduce emissions,” Barnes said.
Izua Banuelos, ASI director of sustainability, said the facility relates to sustainability efforts at CSUB.
“This project not only shows how committed CSUB is towards a more sustainable campus, but it also shows just how willing CSUB is in partnering with the community to create a safe environment by using their resources to improve and create a better access towards sustainable practices,” Banuelos wrote in an email.
She experienced first-hand what it is like taking the bus to campus.
“I often used the bus as a way to get to and from school. It was rather a hassle for busses to line up one after another, causing a blockage on traffic, and a little bit hazardous as some reckless drivers often passed by and got in the way of bus drivers. By adding these stations, the buses now have better way to line up, passengers have an easier access to go from one station to their next route and creates a safer walkway for all,” Banuelos wrote.
On March 23, 2021, GET held the ribbon cutting ceremony for the project to celebrate its completion and launch. Individuals present at the celebration included King, the GET Board of Directors, CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny, mayor of Bakersfield Karen Goh, and other individuals involved with the project.
“When we have a big achievement that includes the hard work of many people it is very important to take time to celebrate, not just for our employees who worked hard on the project, but also for the broader community who will benefit from our success. It’s also important to recognize that it took cooperation and support in the CSUB community and beyond to make it happen,” King wrote.
Lastly, King noted that the celebration was a good way to publicize the new facility and GET to the community.