On June 11th, the City of Carlsbad unanimously approved a year-long, “first-last mile” pilot program that would provide shuttles from the Poinsettia Train Station to the surrounding business parks.
Because Carlsbad lack’s a dense urban city-center, the implementation of this service could help support businesses and individuals by providing convenience to the everyday commuter. With service starting in early August, this program is designed to help Carlsbad employees travel with more ease and efficiency.
In a 2015 study, it was shown that 85% of Carlsbad workers commute from outside the city. This study also revealed that many of these employees work within a small radius around McClellan-Palomar Airport and west of Interstate 5. These numbers help support the initiative behind this project and show there is a need for new transportation methods in Carlsbad.
Christie Marcella, Carlsbad’s economic development manager, states: “The agencies have set a goal of approximately 100 new transit boarding’s per day, or 50 round trips daily, with the service.”
The term “first-last mile” pertains to the beginning or end of the trip, which Marcella warns, “if not convenient will deter the use of transit all together.” The “first-last mile” problem is a large reason many people choose not to use public transportation and is commonly overlooked.
Not only does this program promote efficiency within travel, but it also coincides with the city’s Climate Action Plan and Transportation Demand Management Program to alleviate the number of single-passenger drivers that use our freeways. With the burden of traffic in San Diego, the idea of convenient transit is appealing to many.
This program consists of a partnership between the city of Carlsbad, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), and the North County Transit District (NCTD). With the city of Carlsbad contributing $250,000, SANDAG and NCTD each contributing $200,000, the total cost of this project will equal $650,000.
For personal use, the price is very reasonable. Commuters who already have a Coaster pass will be able to take the shuttle for free to and from work. For others that are not Coaster members, they will either have to pay $2.50 for a ride or attempt to have their business cover the fee.
Similarly to Uber and Lyft, this shuttle system will be an app-based solution. RideCo will be running this program while using WeDriveU as its ground operators. The shuttles that they’ll be using can fit up to 12 people at once and will drop employees off within 5 minutes of their destination. The hours of this service will run from 7-9 a.m. and from 12-6 p.m. in order to parallel the times of the Coaster.
For this to become a long-term reality, local businesses and individuals must participate in promoting this service. They must utilize the shuttles, respond to surveys, and give honest feedback. After all, this pilot program is designed to test the demand and feasibility of a permanent shuttle in Carlsbad.