Passengers prepare to board an Amtrak train.

Tehachapi residents who wish to ride the Amtrak bus to or from the Antelope Valley may now do so without having to buy a train ticket. The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, which manages the Amtrak San Joaquins Thruway Bus Network, is adding this opportunity.

“This is a win-win for everybody and we are happy now to begin opening these routes for the communities to start using this service,” said David Lipari, marketing manager for the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority.

Two routes are now amended for passenger bus-service only, with more to come in the future for routes in California.

The existing Route 12 that has stops in Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Mojave, Lancaster, Palmdale, Littlerock and Victorville or in the opposite direction had not been accepting passengers for bus-service only; customers had to purchase a train ticket. Now this service is available seven days-a-week, with two-daily north and southbound trips, said Lipari.

The Bakersfield – Oxnard – Santa Barbara Route 10 also will provide passengers with opportunities to purchase bus-only tickets.

The buses still connect with Amtrak trains traveling north and south along California rail lines.

The opportunity to improve public transportation options came with some law changes.

In 2019, Senate Bill 742 was amended so that Joint Power Authorities — San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, and San Luis Obispo Rail — could transport passengers on Amtrak intercity buses without requiring them to have a train ticket, according to a San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority handout.

Lipari said that previous legislation limited services that Amtrak could provide.

“We felt like there are a lot of communities within the throughway corridors that are underserved populations," he said. "They don’t have enough necessarily local service between their communities and these communities would benefit from the service that is already running through their town, but is sort of restricted in access.”

The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, which is in charge of managing the Amtrak San Joaquins service, coordinated with local, private and government-funded bus transit carriers to see if there are any conflicts to provide connections to intercity rail services, according to a San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority Jan. 24 staff report.

Some bus-only tickets for the routes are not available between communities because other bus services are offering transportation around the same time.

Bus-only tickets are not available between: Bakersfield and Tehachapi since Greyhound offers direct service and has a similar frequency and travel times; from Palmdale to Lancaster, which is served by Antelope Valley Transit Authority; and from Littlerock to Palmdale, added the report.

Proposed fares depend on distance and range from $5 to $22.25, according to the report. 

Even though Kern Transit offers bus service between Bakersfield and Lancaster, it still will be allowed.

"Kern Transit has been in numerous discussions with the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and we are in support of them selling throughway tickets because the more options the public has the better and it benefits everybody," said Bob Neath, manager for Kern Transit.

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