Desert Hot Springs, Calif. - Taking the bus is an affordable way for Kenda DeCastro to get to school, but she says taking five hours out of her day going to and from school just doesn't work.
"Honest to God if I could, I would have walked to school," DeCastro said. "But there's just no way you can walk across the desert and be healthy. Literally, you can't."
Since she has gained access to a car recently, DeCastro says her grades have vastly improved with her round-trip commute now shortened to just one hour. But, paying for gas is pinching her budget in a way that a bus pass does not.
DeCastro has written to SunLine asking for a more direct route from DHS to C.O.D. She enclosed signatures of 36 classmates who agree with her. SunLine responded, but DeCastro feels her concerns were not really addressed,
"It made me feel like they didn't even care because they didn't read the letter," DeCastro said. "None of the information that they sent us back was even accurate. It didn't even sound like they read one thing that was in the letter."
We asked SunLine General Manager, Lauren Skiver, if it is acceptable for it to take 2.5 hours to get from Desert Hot Springs to College of the Desert on a SunLine bus?
"When we're serving passengers we want to always get them to where they need to go in the most efficient way," Skiver said. "This is a unique region. The valley has some unique challenges in delivering transit services. Providing access and frequency is what SunLine is working on."
Skiver admits that there are many under served, and not served at all areas of the Valley. SunLine's challenge, she says, is covering 1120 square miles of the Coachella Valley with 67 buses.
College of the Desert is planning a West Valley Campus on Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs to better serve the people on this side of the valley. It was expected to open as early as next year, but ground has yet to be broken.
"I need current and relevant training," DeCastro said. "I was a mother of five. I have raised them and the world's changed a lot. I need new training."
And to get that, she says she needs a better way to get to school.