By Jim Holt
Signal Senior Writer
SCV to Palmdale airport link up and running
Public transit stops at Canyon Country station.
The world just got smaller Wednesday with the first ever bus ride to LA/Palmdale Regional Airport from Canyon Country.
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and more than 20 Santa Clarita seniors boarded a bus Wednesday morning at the Metrolink station at Via Princessa that took them to Palmdale airport.
The 45-minute inaugural bus ride aboard the "Palmdale Flyer Express Bus" marked the first time Santa Clarita residents could take public transit to an airport offering connecting flights to international travel, without having to go to Los Angeles International Airport or Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.
"If you had to take the 405 to get to the airport, you could probably be making faster time if you got on top of a car and jumped from car to car," said Antonovich, comparing the route to LAX with the shorter flight connection made through Palmdale Airport.
"Expansion of air service at LA/Palmdale and Ontario Airports is the only way to serve the more than 78 million new air passengers expected in Southern California by 2020," Antonovich told passengers waiting to board the bus on its first run to the airport.
"The Los Angeles City Airport Commission forefathers had this in mind when they purchased 17,000 acres for Palmdale Airport in 1967."
Antonovich and the rest of the county Board of Supervisors staff for District 5 promoted the bus service as providing "a free, convenient and reliable alternative to commuting to LAX."
The service was fashioned after the LAX "FlyAway" service which will connect the LA/Palmdale Airport with the Via Princessa Metrolink Station and the Van Nuys FlyAway Bus Terminal on Woodley Avenue in San Fernando Valley.
For Dean Miller, one of the seniors booked on the trip, it was an opportunity to visit Palmdale for the first time in more than a quarter century. "I haven't been to Palmdale in 30 years," she said, before boarding the bus. "I bought some land out there at Lake Los Angeles but I sold it to get the kids through college."
Jill Bondy, Trips and Tours Coordinator for the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging/ Senior Center on Market Street, said bypassing Los Angeles to get a flight is ideal for seniors who dread the long haul to LAX. "We did this to let the seniors know that they have an alternative now, rather than going to LAX," she said. "A lot of seniors just don't like it."
Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar called the Palmdale Flyer "a great opportunity to help streamline travel."
"This provides options to commuters," he said while waiting for the inaugural bus to arrive. "It takes a number of alternatives to make our transportation system work effectively."
Among the first-time passengers aboard the "Palmdale Flyer" were two women who won a plane trip to San Francisco from local radio station KHTS.
In June, United Airlines began making flights to San Francisco from LA/Palmdale Regional Airport.
"We're exploring (the possibility of) other airlines coming to this airport," said Antonovich before he got on the bus. " ... We would love to have Jet Blue."