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Southern California is well-known for being relatively difficult to navigate, especially without a car. But, many in Los Angeles County still rely on public transportation to go from place to place, including members of the Claremont Colleges community. Recently, a change in Foothill Transit’s bus route, which passes through Claremont, promises to better accommodate the 5Cs — but not everyone in the surrounding community is satisfied.
On Sept. 25, Foothill Transit modified Route 188 to follow Claremont Boulevard instead of Indian Hill Boulevard, improving service to the Claremont Colleges but increasing the end-to-end route time.
Route 188 goes from Azusa to Montclair and back, passing through Claremont along the way. Previously, the closest stop for those at the 5Cs was the Claremont Transit Center, located south of Pomona, more than a 20-minute walk from Pitzer College and Harvey Mudd College.
With the new route, when heading east, the bus now stops west of Pitzer College at the intersection between Ninth Street and Claremont Boulevard, making the trek to a Route 188 bus stop shorter for more 5C students.
To accommodate for this new eastbound stop, the bus now turns west before it continues heading east, initially turning south from Foothill in Claremont Boulevard and then heading west on First Street, looping around before heading east on Arrow Highway to Montclair.
One of Foothill Transit’s busiest routes, Route 188 was altered as part of a routine service change, according to its website. Foothill Transit did not respond for comment when asked about the reasoning behind this service change.
Diego Tamayo PZ ’25 said he was overjoyed when he found out about the route change through a Pitzer College’s Student Talk message thread.
“I am one that’s very updated with different updates of [public transit] projects, and this was one of the few times I was genuinely shocked and surprised to see a change,” he said.
Tamayo said he likes to take the bus from Pitzer to downtown Claremont or to Montclair’s Target, but the previous walk from Pitzer’s campus to the Claremont Village or the Metrolink station took him over 20 minutes.
With the new route, getting to the Claremont Village is about an eight-minute trip from Pitzer, he said.
“It’s a bridge of accessibility,” Tamayo said. “It makes distances shorter [for students]. And it’s done in an accessible, affordable, equitable way.”
“It’s a bridge of accessibility,” Diego Tamayo PZ ’25 said.
However, Tamayo acknowledged that the line might not be as convenient for riders outside of Claremont.
“I would imagine for folks that are traveling from [towns to the west of Claremont], say Laverne, San Dimas, Azusa — I’m sure the pattern for them is maybe a bit worse,” Tamayo said. “It just takes longer for them to get places than before. However, for the additional capacity for riders to maybe come in from the colleges, I think that the tradeoffs are pretty good.”
Jon Burkart PO ’24, who sometimes rides the bus to the Montclair mall, said he appreciated Route 188’s consistency, but that the route change was “kind of annoying.”
“If you need to go west, you have to go east and make a zigzag,” Burkart said. This makes getting from one place to another a lengthier process.
Burkart also said that the lack of sidewalks on Claremont Boulevard makes the new stop less pedestrian-friendly than if it had been on another street.
“I think maybe some of the purpose was to serve the Claremont Colleges. But I think it could have been done probably in a better way,” Jon Burkart PO’ 24 said.
“I think maybe some of the purpose was to serve the Claremont Colleges. But I think it could have been done probably in a better way,” Burkart said. “It just kind of makes a big loop around [the 5Cs] so nobody’s really well served. On the surface, it’s kind of a detrimental change, especially because it adds time on for people who want to just get from Montclair to Azusa, which is probably most of the people.”
Online, San Gabriel Valley public transportation Twitter was abuzz with negative commentary on the route change. On Sept. 21, one user tweeted that the new schedule “increased trip time by up to 29 minutes” and was “not for passengers headed to Montclair.”
Responding in a thread calling the route change “absurd,” another user tweeted that the changes were “stupid.”
“They really want to get Pitzer College students to use their free annual passes even though most use it only once a year,” the tweet reads.
Students are not the only ones served by the new bus station at the 5Cs, though. Route 188 regular Ruth Bonilla, who works at the Claremont Colleges, applauded the move during an interview with TSL on the Route 188 bus.
“It’s very convenient for me,” she said. “I like it very much.”
To Tamayo, the increased convenience of the bus might push more 5C students to take advantage of the public transit system in the area, even when students might not be as familiar with buses yet.
“I just want to encourage people in that way to say that, ‘Yes, this is a place that is a space that can receive us,’” Tamayo said. “I think that it would be good for us to take a leap of faith and to maybe do something that maybe some folks aren’t as used to.”