By LAURA QUEZADA
News Review Staff Writer
When The News Review learned that there is an inexpensive way to get from here to Los Angeles we had to know more and share it with you. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Granted, we did start with our contact at Ridgecrest Transit and left a voicemail on a personal cell phone. However, we kept digging.
Word was you caught a bus from Inyokern, so I called my contact at Five Fingers Pub who said there was a daily bus every afternoon catty corner from the pub (wrong.) Since the hikers on the Pacific Coast Trail provided the first insight, I called Kennedy Meadows Store who caters to that population. They said it was an Amtrak bus (wrong). We tracked down the media department at Amtrak and set up a phone interview for the next Monday morning and apparently I was going to talk to a committee of folks, “There will be a few of us on the line in different locations. Are you open to a team meeting which you can join on your phone?” Since I couldn’t find anything about it on their website, I kept digging. I finally called the main number for Ridgecrest Transit and got the 411.
Chris Smith, Transit Services Coordinator at Ridgecrest Transit tells us, “Every Monday through Friday, except for holidays, the Ridgecrest Transit Bus will leave Ridgecrest at 10:45am from the Civic Center at 100 West California Avenue. You can also schedule a pickup at your home before 10:45, we just need a day’s call in advance. The bus will pick you up and take you out to Inyokern to meet the Eastern Sierra transit bus at the Inyokern transfer hub, which is located at 1401 North Third Street in Inyokern.
“There a bus that leaves Bishop in the morning and stops in Inyokern about 11:20am. You transfer to that bus and it heads south and it goes to the Metrolink station in Lancaster and arrives at about 12:40pm. From that Metrolink station, you can ride to Union Station in Los Angeles and from there you can get pretty much everywhere around Southern California.”
There is another way to get to the Metrolink Station and ultimately, Los Angeles. “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Kern Transit has a bus that comes into Ridgecrest from Mojave in the morning at around 5:45am and leave Walmart at 6:40am. They go to Mojave and another Kern Transit Bus that goes to Bakersfield and Lancaster and that bus stops at the Metrolink Station.”
Prices are quite reasonable: For Ridgecrest Transit “It costs $2.50 to go from Ridgecrest to Inyokern, $1.25 for a senior, disabled, youth or a student with valid student ID. It’s $5 to go from Inyokern to the Metrolink.” Fare are paid upon boarding the bus and drivers do not make change.
Regular roundtrip on Metrolink from Lancaster to LA Union Station is $23.00, $11.50 for seniors, $17.50 for students and $20.50 for active military. Reservations are not necessary. Tickets are to be purchased on the day of travel and are only good for that day.
Kern Transit fares are $3.00 General and $1.50 reduced for Intercommunity travel. They ask that you have your fare ready before boarding. If paying with cash, make sure to have the exact amount, as bus drivers do not make change.
Eastern Sierra Transit (ESTA) fare is $5.00 They have a website for reservations: https://www.estransit.com. Search for Inyokern. They say, “Please note, space is limited. Your reservation isn’t confirmed until you’ve received notice from ESTA staff. Payment options will be outlined in the confirmation email. Please note, reservation requests must be received no later than noon of the business day prior to your requested travel date. ESTA’s reservation office is not open on weekends or holidays. Walk on seating is also available on a limited basis.
Here are the phone numbers: Metrolink 800-371-5465; Ridgecrest Transit 760-499-5040; Kern Transit 800-323-2396; Eastern Sierra Transit 760-872-1901