BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Some GET bus riders are expressing their frustrations after Golden Empire Transit suspended routes Thursday night due "anticipated unrest in the community."
Golden Empire Transit told 23ABC that it was information from BPD regarding a planned Breonna Taylor protest at Valley Plaza on Thursday night that resulted in the shutdowns again Friday night.
“Right now with COVID, a lot of us are financially strapped. I’m on unemployment, $74 dollars a week. I can barely afford food or rent, let alone a cab or uber, so that’s why I take the bus,” said Michael Pesina, a Bakersfield resident.
Michael Pesina, a 57-year East Bakersfield resident says he suffers from anxiety and an enlarged prostate.
He was waiting for what he says, “the bus that would never come" at the Downtown transit center to get him home Thursday, after a doctor’s appointment.
That all changed when he called Golden Empire Transit at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon and found out they temporarily suspended all services, including fixed-route buses, Ryde, and Get-A-Lift until 7 a.m. Friday morning.
“We were all on our own, and they apologized, so I told everyone what was going on, and they were worried. One lady in a wheelchair I think was going to cry. I don’t think she knew how to get home.”
GET told 23ABC in a statement that:
“We suspended service last night due to information received from BPD regarding a protest in the Downtown area and Valley Plaza. We take this information seriously and implement all necessary precautions to protect our customers, employees and the community.”
These anticipated demonstrations are in solidarity with 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who died in an officer-involved shooting in Kentucky earlier this year.
No one showed up to the scheduled protest Thursday night at Valley Plaza Mall when the first GET suspension occurred, and Pesina had to walk 7.2 miles home.
He says he usually has a catheter with him but didn’t that time, or he says he wouldn’t have been able to make it.
“It was a long, long walk. I barely made it, and I fell dead in my bed when I got home. Luckily I can walk. But those that cannot walk that are in wheelchairs, I just felt sorry for them.”
GET also told 23ABC that:
“GET supervisors have gone out and picked up people who may be stranded when the service is suspended. We err on the side of caution and follow the information provided by local authorities. GET understands that we provide a vital service to the community that depends on us so we must follow every precaution and follow the information provided. We apologize for the inconvenience to our riders but it is out of safety that we base our decisions.”
When asked if the precaution is worth the inconvenience Pesina told 23ABC:
"Maybe, but an hour’s notice and shutting down the entire city? That was a little much."