It didn't take long for the wheels to fall off the new Bakersfield-LAX shuttle service.
Just six days after it began offering $32 one-way fares, Interstate Bus announced it has cancelled shuttle service effective Nov. 30. All travel dates that day and beyond are being refunded.
Joel Azumah, president of Interstate's owner, Transport Azumah, said Saturday that he decided to cancel service because of high expenditures and customers unwilling to use credit cards to pay in advance. He said it quickly became evident most customers in the Bakersfield area wanted to deal in cash, and his company by and large deals in credit.
"A lot of people were either disinterested or did not have the ability to use the technology necessary to get on our buses," Azumah said.
He said the buses transported about 300 people, including 95 on Thanksgiving day, during their week-long run. He said he's disappointed he wasn't able to arrange additional credit to keep the service running, and he's sorry for any difficulties passengers who used the service over the holidays may experience in getting back home.
The owner of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company said he's lost money on the endeavor. He said the problems he experienced in Bakersfield were unlike what he's gone through in other parts of the country.
"We're not the type of operation maybe that this market needed," he said. "They need a type of operation that's a bit more low-tech, more traditional."
Azumah reported more than a week ago that he was experiencing problems regarding cash-only customers and a lack of parking and on-site personnel. Originally, the service planned to pick up and drop off passengers at the Amtrak station on Truxtun Avenue, but concerns that this would overwhelm Amtrak station parking caused him to move the location to the Golden Empire Transit District bus stop on the south side of Truxtun near Q Street.
No public parking is available there.