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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A company based in Brooklyn, N.Y., announced Thursday it will run buses between the Amtrak station in downtown Bakersfield and Los Angeles International Airport starting Nov. 24.
Interstate Bus plans to offer six trips a day each way — one more than the previous service, whose Aug. 31 closure left local travelers without bus service to LAX.
“Wonderful!” said Bakersfield resident Rudi Spain, whose son living in Louisiana had relied on the previous company to get from LAX to his parents’ house.
“We always counted on that airport bus to get him here.”
One-way tickets will cost $32 each — a little more than the last service sold them for — and no round-trip tickets are available, Interstate announced. Though December, children 12 years or younger may travel free with the purchase of an adult fare, but not more than one child free per adult.
Interstate plans to contract with a vendor that has an existing transportation license and permits, thereby avoiding hassles that frustrated the former service, Dallas-based Horizon Coach Lines.
Horizon had trouble getting a permit to take customers directly to LAX, and had to transfer them to another service that drove them to the airport. Horizon also failed to secure a state license.
Another distinction between the two services is that Horizon’s Bakersfield departure-arrival office was at the Golden State Mall on F Street, not the train station.
Horizon bought the service in September 2012 but was never able to make money at it, a company executive told The Californian in August.
According to Interstate, the route served 56,000 passengers in 2012.
Travel agent Carline Smart, with Bakersfield’s Lambourne Travel, said people have been asking about the service since Horizon stopped it.
“We’ve had a lot of calls on, ‘What are we going to do? Who are we going to use?’” she said. Her advice to callers was that they had little choice but to drive if they were planning to fly out of LAX.
Her opinion Thursday was that the $32 price tag is reasonable and that moving to the train station is an improvement.
“I don’t think $64 round trip is bad at all,” she said.
Interstate’s announcement stated that departures from Bakersfield will leave at 3, 5 and 8 a.m., noon and 3 and 6 p.m. Departures from LAX are scheduled for 6:30 and 9 a.m., noon and 4, 7 and 10 p.m.
Tickets are being sold through the company’s website: interstatebus.us. It asked that customers needing to book a free children’s seat contact the company by email at email@example.com.