Burlingame boosts funding of shopping shuttle buses

Shuttle buses that bring Bayfront hotel visitors into Burlingame’s shopping districts received an infusion of city cash this week.

The City Council voted Monday to provide $25,000 in funding for the Burlingame Trolley for only one year, starting July 1, said Jane Gomery, Burlingame’s program manager.

The six-day-a-week shuttle, which faced potential service cutbacks due to rising fuel costs, provides a vital link between the city’s six airport hotels and the Burlingame Avenue and Broadway shopping districts. The additional funding will help keep the symbiotic business relationship alive, Broadway Merchants Association President Ross Bruce said.

“It links the hotels to a charming little town,” he said. “It brings business to the community and it’s good for the merchants.”

With the city yet to add the shuttle funding to its 2011-12 fiscal budget, officials will have to perform some financial juggling to move capital improvement project money over to the shuttle, Gomery said. Without the funding, though, services would have likely been cut.

“We’re already operating under a deficit,” said Scott VandenBerg, general manager of the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, one of the hotels that the trolley services. The trolley receives funding from the hotels and the city’s two merchants associations.

The funding comes at a time when the average price of diesel in the state has reached $4.49 a gallon, according to AAA’s daily fuel gauge report.

Burlingame used to provide $80,000 a year for the shuttle service, but cut the funding in 2009 amid severe budget cuts. The reduced funding caused the shuttle operators to scale back its hours and eliminate the Sunday route. VandenBerg said that the $25,000 approved this week will allow the hotels to resurrect the Sunday route as well as evening hours.

The shuttle seats 28 people and is operated by SFO Hotel Shuttle Inc.

Last fiscal year, the city collected $10,341,567 in transient occupancy tax from all of Burlingame’s hotels, said Mary Asturias, financial services manager.

aterrazas@sfexaminer.com

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