City officials have been talking about creating a Mountain View shuttle service for years, but on Tuesday City Council members raised the stakes, asking city staff to study possible routes and funding sources.
The request was made despite conflicting opinions expressed during the study session over whether a shuttle service would be useful. City staff said there were no obvious deficiencies in existing transportation services in the city, and an outside expertise required to gauge the need. City staff in 2008 recommended against such a service, which would likely be contracted out.
Council members have said shuttle service could serve seniors, students and those going to and from El Camino Hospital, Mountain View High School, the teen center, downtown, San Antonio Shopping Center and Google headquarters in North Bayshore. The service could be funded by Mountain View companies, a parcel tax, or even Caltrain, which funds most of the cost of a $200,000 shuttle to and from downtown Palo Alto, which is free to users.
"In my seven years on City Council I've heard from plenty of people interested in this," said council member Laura Macias. "Palo Alto has been able to get 74 percent of the cost paid by Caltrain," and Palo Alto is "much less dense than Mountain View."
"If there are funds available, let's access them," she said.
Resident Jarrett Mullen, a member of the Mountain View Coalition on Sustainable Planning, proposed a simple route connecting the city's "village centers" named in the city's general plan update, including San Antonio Shopping Center, Castro Street and the neighborhood near Google headquarters.
City staff reported that a city shuttle service could cost anywhere from $175,000 to $1.6 million, with options ranging from running a shuttle every 30 minutes from Grant Road to San Antonio Shopping Center, to running shuttles on multiple routes every 10 minutes.
Michael Gulasch of Intuit said his company was interested in a new shuttle service as it is a considerable expense for his company and others to transport workers to and from the downtown train station.
"It seems like a no-brainer," said council member Ronit Bryant. "If each company worked together they could lower their costs."
Council member Margaret Abe-Koga, who is also chair of the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors, was skeptical.
"I think were just stuck again as to how we are gong to fund this," Abe-Koga said, adding that it would be easier "if businesses want to work with us."