Spring launch eyed for Redwood City shuttle

A shuttle that would help low-income residents, seniors, kids and the disabledget around town could start service next spring, after two years spent ironing out kinks that have caused other cities’ shuttle services to fail.

For now, there is no regular route; riders living in Fair Oaks would be able to request a specific trip in advance, said Christine Maley-Grubl, director of Peninsula Congestion Relief Alliance, which is helping Redwood City plan the service.

Planners have held off submitting a formal shuttle proposal to the city, citing an interest in developing a plan that is likely to succeed. In San Carlos, an expansive shuttle system known as SCOOT failed in 2005 in part because it cost the city more than $600,000 a year to run. Riders paid nothing for a shuttle that offered on-call door-to-door service in addition to nine regular routes.

Redwood City’s shuttle service is designed to take Fair Oaks-area residents to schools, local community centers, transit hubs such as Sequoia Station, shopping districts and medical centers, including Kaiser.

“People here felt that having transportation that would allow them to get to things as basic as school or appointments would be good,” said Terry Chin, supervisor of the Fair Oaks Community Center. “With SamTrans, the service isn’t bad, but the cost is challenging, and it’s not a straight shot from one place to another.”

The shuttle would likely carry 24 passengers at a time, Maley-Grubl said. A commuter shuttle, launched last spring to transport workers from Sequoia Station to jobs along Broadway, had 27 average daily riders between July and September.

Experts estimate the service would cost $90,000 per year to start, and will be paid for by a combination of city funds and a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for low-income transportation. Although a survey two years ago showed riders support a $1 fare, the shuttle would likely be free in the beginning, Maley-Grubl said.

AlthoughRedwood City’s shuttle would not be operated by the San Mateo County Transit District, SamTrans did consult with leaders to help them craft a concept that would succeed, spokesman Jonah Weinberg said.

News of a residents’ shuttle emerged in June 2005. Residents were surveyed in October of that year, and leaders hoped to launch a route by early 2006.

The proposal is slated to go before the Redwood City Council on March 10.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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