Santa Paula Times

Fillmore-based FATCO: Ridership up under new public transport operator

October 08, 1999
Santa Paula News
Santa Paula public transportation riders are so happy with the new operator that ridership has jumped since the contract for VISTA city service went to FATCO, a.k.a. Fillmore Area Transit Corporation. FATCO has a long history in the Santa Clara River Valley (over a quarter-of-a-century) and officially started service on July 5th in the Santa Paula area.In its first two months FATCO has been "very successful," said Public Works Director/City Engineer Norm Wilkinson. "Ridership was up 35 percent over the same period last year," with 6630 passengers compared to the 1998 figure of 4,912 commuters during the same reporting period.In Fillmore alone the company serves an average of 6,400 riders monthly so the new route servicing Santa Paula has more than doubled the company's ridership.Although headquartered in Fillmore, the Santa Paula VISTA service retained its local service number (933-2267), and rates and schedules remained the same in a bid to make the transportation changeover as easy as possible for commuters.FATCO has staff that is about 90 percent bilingual and up to 10 employees were added to better service the Santa Paula route.
FATCO also has a charter business as well as a county contract to transport handicapped adults. The Highway 126 VISTA line is now handled by Antelope Valley Bus Co.The initial success of FATCO was predicted by Ginger Gherardi, executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission, who said FATCO "provides excellent service in Fillmore and we were confident they were going to do an equally great job in Santa Paula."The prior contract carrier, Santa Barbara Transportation, was under fire - including from the Santa Paula City Council - on numerous occasions for its lack of bilingual staff and poor customer relations.