In the first two years after the city launched the shuttle service, which offers 17 stops off Highway 1, it averaged only about 20 passengers a day, noted Van O’Campo, director of public works/city engineer for the city of Pacifica.
But that began to change following the anticipated opening of the picturesque Devil’s Slide Coastal Trail on March 27, he said. “We’re seeing up to 150 people on some weekend days,” said O’Campo. “On average, though, it’s about 60 to 80 people a day compared to 20.”
The Devil’s Slide Ride route includes a stop at the Devil’s Slide Tunnel Bridge turnaround, providing access from Pacifica to the coastal hiking trails and viewing area. The iPacifica app allows people to track the shuttles in real time via GPS.
The shuttle runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and travels an approximately one-hour loop that turns around near Oceana High School. Buses can accommodate wheelchairs, surfboards and bicycles.
Funding for the shuttle was provided through a grant from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority’s Measure A and the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County.
While the average ridership has increased nearly threefold with the opening of the trail, O’Campo says he would like to see more people utilizing the free service and fewer motorists parking along Highway 1.
“Some visitors to the Devil’s Slide area have taken to parking illegally along Highway 1,” said O’Campo. “There is only so much parking at the trail so we encourage people to take public transit there instead. The shuttle is the safest and most convenient way to get to the trailhead.”
SamTrans is also offering a public transit option with its new stop at the 1.3-mile Devil’s Slide trailhead, which has quickly become a popular attraction for local residents and tourists. “Given the limited parking at the Devil’s Slide coastal trailhead, we expect SamTrans to become a popular way to reach the trail,” said SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn.
SamTrans has a north- and southbound bus stop at the south end of the tunnel. The Route 17 bus line, which travels on Highway 1 between Pescadero and the Linda Mar Park and Ride lot in Pacifica, is a convenient alternative to driving, said Dunn. The new bus stops, on either side of the Pacific Coast Highway, are marked with new signs, which include bus stop identification numbers.
“People can drive to the park-and-ride lot and catch a southbound bus for the short ride to the trail head,” she said. “You can make a day of it by continuing on a southbound bus along scenic Highway 1 to explore the coastside.”
Ridership statistics for the SamTrans routes in the Devil’s Slide area have not yet been released, said Dunn, but there is a trend of high transit boardings on the weekends. In regards to people who may park along PCH to get to the trails and park, California Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Ferguson said officers patrolling the area will ticket those who are violating parking and traffic regulations.
“The hope is that more people will use public transportation to get there, and that the shuttle service will also reduce vehicle miles traveled on the weekends by offering the opportunity to get up and down Pacifica without having to drive your own car,” said O’Campo.