Bus company bankruptcy could end Ventura County service


For Ventura County commuters who need to travel from city to city and beyond, VISTA (Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority) is the only public bus system making such trips. The bus service that so many depend on so heavily is expected to suspend service at the end of the month.

Ventura County Transportation Commission officials say the bad news is even sudden and shocking to them.

"The company that operates our VISTA bus system, our inter-city bus system that goes between Ventura County and Santa Barbara as well as into Warner Center in Los Angeles County, has informed us that through their bankruptcy they are not going to be able to continue to provide our service. We got news of that just a few days ago," said Darren Kettle, executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission.

Ventura County Transportation Commission officials say if the shutdown of VISTA cannot be somehow avoided, 27 buses will be taken off the streets, affecting some 1,500 daily riders.

Ventura County officials say they knew Coach America, which owns the VISTA buses, was headed for bankruptcy. Even still, they signed a yearlong contract extension with the company and were assured bus service would not be interrupted.

"Our opinion is that they are not honoring their contract for us for the fiscal year starting July 1 of 2012 through the next year into 2013, and we are going to be advising them we believe they are not keeping to the contract that they have with us," said Kettle.

Ventura County officials say they need more time to find another company to provide bus service. They say they are asking Coach America to keep the buses on the streets for at least another month.

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