Mountain View's free community shuttle service will be getting an upgrade. In a new deal inked with the city, Google has agreed to continue paying for the transit system for another five years, ensuring the service will remain in place through 2024.
With the benefit of that time, city officials say they hope to take more control over the service and better integrate it into the area's larger transportation network.
"This is great news for the continuation of the pilot program and service, which many local residents have come to rely on in their daily routines," said City Manager Dan Rich. "With this extension, Google will have committed more than $20 million from the program's launch in 2015 through 2024."
After launching in 2015, the community shuttle service has slowly drawn in a growing ridership, reporting it served over 200,000 passengers last year. But up to this point, it was never clear how long the service would remain in place.
The program, which reportedly cost about $2 million a year to operate, has been renewed by Google officials on an annual basis. While city officials made it clear they appreciated the free service, they also acknowledged that the pilot could only continue as long as Google wanted it to.
Under the new five-year funding phase, Google officials will reportedly hand off the shuttle program's day-to-day administration. City officials intend to analyze ways to improve the shuttles and link them to other services.
More information about the community shuttle service, including routes, maps and schedules, can be found on its website