Foster City seeking emissions-friendly

City leaders are looking for a new provider to keep a popular local shuttle service going after shuttle buses used by the current company were found not to meet new emissions requirements.

Connections Shuttle, which has run Foster City’s routes since February 2003, is using older shuttles that don’t meet upcoming smog requirements, according to Planning Manager Linda Carmichael. If the city doesn’t upgrade those vehicles by January 1, 2007, it will face financial penalties.

Finding a provider now is important so the service doesn’t lapse, according to Mayor Linda Koelling.

“Those ‘hiccups’ are the first thing that will dissuade people from putting the car in the garage and using public transit,” Koelling said.

Foster City launched its first shuttle service, Sunshine Shuttle, in 1999. Connections took over when SamTrans reduced service on Route 251, which connects Foster City to the Hillsdale Shopping Center and Caltrain station. The shuttle’s Red Line mimics the 251 route, while the Blue Line loops from the Bridgepointe Shopping Center to Sea Cloud Park.

Roughly 750 riders, primarily seniors and teens, used those routes each week during the 2005-06 fiscal year. Half of the shuttle’s $155,000-per-year cost is paid by the city, while the other half comes from the City/County Agency of Governments, which also supplies funding for municipal shuttles such as the Burlingame trolley and services that connect residents and employees with trains in San Mateo, South San Francisco and Brisbane.

C/CAG is also working with Redwood City to kick off a pilot shuttle program under the guidance of local leaders such as City Councilwoman Diane Howard.

In Redwood City, officials are setting aside funding, including $250,000 from Redwood City and $60,000 from C/CAG, and hammering out a workable route — the key to the shuttle’s success. “We want to start it and have it be successful from the first day,” Howard said.

However, some cities have proven that successful routes are only part of a successful service. In San Carlos, the SCOOT shuttle won awards for helping kids get to and from school, but its exorbitant cost — in excess of $600,000 some years — led city officials to shut it down in the summer of 2005.

Foster City Council will vote on the request for proposals for shuttle service Monday at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 620 Foster City Blvd.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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