San Carlos shuttle service to be revived

It’s beginning to look like local shuttle service could come back from the dead.

Two and a half years after SCOOT, San Carlos’ popular shuttle, rode off into the sunset, residents are clamoring for some kind of replacement.

“When we asked the public what they wanted to see in the future, one of the first things out of their mouths was ‘SCOOT,’” Assistant City Manager Brian Moura said.

Regional sales-tax money will be available for shuttle service in 2009 after voters renewed Measure A in 2004, raising money for San Mateo County transportation projects and providing $9 million for shuttle service in 2009, Moura said.

Short for San Carlos Optimum Operational Transit, SCOOT was designed to relieve congestion at high-traffic areas in town, and served a number of different groups, from students to seniors. However, after voters rejected a property-tax measure to pay for the $600,000-a-year shuttle, it ferried its last passengers in the summer of 2005.

Now, different special-interest groups want to bring the shuttle back. Some would like it for after-school transport, while others want it to take them downtown, Moura said.

“There are a number of people living in the hills, and families are unable to get downtown without their cars,” resident Rosemary Guaitamacchi told the City Council recently. “Our city has become increasingly congested, and public transit is not as good as it was — we need a shuttle, one that people would pay to ride.”

SamTrans ended its Route 261, which served neighborhoods throughout San Carlos, in August 2004 after SCOOT’s rise, according to San Mateo County Transit District spokesman Jonah Weinberg.

“It had low ridership before then, and SCOOT just killed it,” Weinberg said. SamTrans has not since restored bus service in the community, though Route 260 takes riders along San Carlos Avenue to Carlmont High School in the outer parts of the city, he added.

However, cities will have to compete for that money, and San Carlos will need to determine how to craft a shuttle service that works — no small feat, Weinberg said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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