New company restarts bus service from Bakersfield to LAX
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A lot of travelers complained when buses from Bakersfield to the Los Angeles airport suddenly stopped this summer.
Now, a bus company from back East will provide the service starting just before the holiday travel season. Interstate Bus Lines will have six trips a day starting Nov. 24.
"We took a look at the reasons to see why the other company stopped the service, and we believe we can make some adjustments that will allow the service to be more successful," Interstate President Joel Azumah told Eyewitness News by phone on Thursday.
He said the Brooklyn, New York-based company serves mostly the East Coast but also some "niche markets."
He sees an opportunity in getting travelers from Bakersfield to Los Angeles International Airport. The company plans six trips to LAX every day, and six returns. That's one more than the previous service, Airport Bus.
Airport Bus ran for about 30 years, before shutting down at the end of August. Parent company, Horizon Coach Lines, said there weren't enough customers.
"The reason is declining passenger numbers," spokesman Don Hadden told Eyewitness News in mid-August.
Passengers were stunned.
"I can't understand it, because the buses are usually full or at capacity," rider bob Petker had told us. "It leaves a lot of people stranded."
Interstate Bus said it will do a better job advertising the service. Azumah said with an established company like Airport Bus, they may make an assumption everyone knows about their service.
"Part of the key is going to be our advertising strategy," he promised.
He also said the departures from the Amtrak station will be a plus for their bus service. Azumah said the downtown Bakersfield location is well-known, and it's a good fit for their operation and their travelers. He predicted it will be a good connection for train passengers, and the bus company.
Azumah said Interstate Bus will also do a better job online.
"It's not important to have a fancy website presence, but a web presence that clearly explains the service you provide," he said. Interstate's bare-bones site has a table with the six departures from Bakersfield, and six from LAX with their times.
The company said it set up the schedule to serve vacation travelers and business people. Azumah pointed to the 3 a.m. bus from Bakersfield, saying that will mesh well with vacation flights leaving LAX for Hawaii, for example.
The website also shows one-way tickets will cost $32 for an adult, and a child under 12 will be free with the purchase of an adult ticket. The company said that will make their service affordable for families.
Tickets will be sold online, the company said. Azumah said that lets the company manage passenger numbers the best, and guarantee that everyone has a seat. It'll also help manage their equipment.
The company will run mostly 47-passenger buses, that's the usual tour- or coach size. Azumah said it's possible they could run 28-passenger buses on some slow days.
The website is www.interstatebus.us. The company said it also plans to have a local phone number for the Bakersfield service in the next couple weeks.
And, the first Interstate Bus will roll out of Bakersfield on Nov. 24, which the company says puts them at work right in time for holiday travel. Azumah's goal is to have 55,000 to 60,000 passengers the first year in the Bakersfield to LAX buses. He thinks the service will take off from there.
"We think that in the future, these types of airport to community services are going to be significantly more popular as airlines continue to rationalize their flights."