The Downey Link Being Considered for Disbandment

Abigail Gonzalez, Writer

As of November 10, 2022, two council members have considered the disbandment of the Downey Link (our city bus system). 


When discussing the budget for the next year for our city of Downey, City council member Mario Trujillo suggested getting rid of the Downey Link due to low ridership. He stated, “I understand that some cities are providing alternative transportation methods for those in need, but I think it’s time we consider eliminating the Downey Link.” 


Council member Donald La Plante came to an agreement with the suggestion and added, “That bus serves what I’m told is 60,000 people a year. When you back it out, that’s 250 a day, and I’m told most of those are students going to or from high school,” said La Plante. “I’ve seen buses with two [people], but most of the time I see either zero or one.”


As a student who rides the Downey Link, I see many students taking the buses after school to get home every day after school. Many rely on the bus system to take them to and from school. 


Jose Lopez, 10, stated, “I take the bus every day to go home because my mom doesn’t get off work till 7.” Lopez added, “If the bus were to stop coming I would have to walk home, but that’ll take two hours and I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to do my homework.”  


The Downey Link is a safer alternative for students to use compared to the public metro system. When riding the bus, there is a clean environment containing students and occasional adults that ride the bus daily. It not only provides a safe space for students to get home safely but also provides many parents some peace of mind that their child is getting home safe. 


David Hernandez, 10, said, “ I used to take the metro, but my friend suggested the Downey Link and I liked it way better.” He then said, “I like the Downey Link because I like riding the bus with my friends and I like that I don’t have to deal with random strangers.” 


La Plante stated, “We’re running buses around town, using up fuel, polluting the air, doing whatever we’re doing and transporting no one.” La Plante further stated, “Whether that means we need to expand our Dial-a-Ride programs to people other than those that are just over 65, that’s our current rule. Maybe it’s, say, 55. Maybe it’s 50, maybe it’s anybody. But at the amount of money we’re spending on the Downey Link, we could hire Uber to drive those people around.” 


The Dial-a-Ride program is a shared curb-to-curb transportation service provided to the City of Downey residents who are 65 years of age or those with a physician-certified disability that prohibits the use of public transportation. It is essentially a hotline for a driver to pick you up and drop you off at your suggested location, but as of now, it is only open to the elderly. Although in either case, those cars will also be polluting the air.  There may be many people now asking for more rides through the program, which may cause more traffic or issues with driver availability. 


Maria Espinoza, an older lady who rides the Downey Link often, stated, “I use this bus system to get around to buy my groceries and get my errands completed for the day.” I asked her if she has ever considered using the Dial-a-Ride program that Downey provides. She replied, “I looked into it, but I did not qualify because I did not meet the age requirement.” 


All things considered, the Downey Link provides a great transportation system for the public and can be relied on to get to destinations safely, which is enough reason to keep the bus system.