Mountain View Voice

News - December 9, 2011

Council getting serious on new shuttle service

by Daniel DeBolt

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."

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Sam, a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm

The service is called a VTA or CAB. VTA also has cars that drive people around for those who qualify. Most of use these items called Money to pay for the trip.


Posted by curious, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 12, 2011 at 10:10 am

"I think were just stuck again as to how we are gong to fund this," Abe-Koga said,

No kidding. Given that the city has huge unfunded union government workers retirees pension and health insurance liabilities, this is the last thing these politicians should be thinking about.

How about if you are in a hole, stop digging? The council should be working on de-certifying the unions and trying to get out of the huge costs that previous sets of politicians saddled the taxpayers with.

But, since the unions run this city, there is not a chance of sanity prevailing.


Posted by George, a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Yep, let's not work with VTA, let's not talk about individual car pools, and heaven forbid that MtnView people WALK...to either the train, or to regular VTA bus routes.

EGADS, none of the above.. Let's spend another 1.5 or so million per year, set up another bureaucratic system... yeah, like even an out of city "contract" service won't use up more city resources..

YEP, let's spend more money..


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

Planning and seeing how this shuttle will work and the cost to operate and where the funds are coming from. We have buildings and housing that is going to be built, along with new the stores. We can start with test routes, selling tickets, weekly and monthly passes, the best idea is to work with the VTA on routes and shuttle ideas. We have a good transit center, and a growing base of workers, residents and visitors


Posted by kman, a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 14, 2011 at 4:52 pm

"The service could be funded by Mountain View companies, a parcel tax, or even Caltrain"

You must be kidding me, another parcel tax, for this? That is really bright, NOT!!

This is the worst idea I have heard, what is the matter with taking the bus system that is already in place? Oh I forgot, you need to pay money to ride on them.

I guess like all democrats and Unions have to say to this and all other expenses, "the tax payers will pay for it".


Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 16, 2011 at 9:28 am

I think Council member Margaret Abe-Koga has learned a lot on her VTA board service and has the money=service part right. Without a strong community input, business support, and a externally funded study ans trial, there is no $ for this new service. I REALLY wanted to support BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) down El Camino, studies in large urban areas show it can be very cost effective. But a new study by the regional MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) shows it is one of the least effective (cost/benefit) projects that have been proposed around the Bay Area.


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