Redwood City to test commuter shuttle 

City officials are getting ready to launch a trial shuttle service that would take commuters from Sequoia Station to jobs and a school along Broadway.

Several companies on Broadway, including Genentech, FP International, Claria and High Tech High Bayshore, threw their support behind a shuttle for employees and students, according to Christine Maley-Grubl, executive director of the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance.

Although the pilot route is aimed at commuters, anyone who needs to travel along the route could use it for free.

Although Redwood City officials initially discussed a shuttle to bring residents downtown, the buy-in from local businesses for a commuter shuttle made it more appealing as a test case. If all goes well with the new shuttle, the downtown connector could be added this summer, according to City Council member Diane Howard.

San Mateo County history is littered with failed shuttle programs, but Howard is hoping this one will be different. "We’ve learned that what’s important to riders is getting to work on time and having it be very pleasant and low-cost. We’re going to answer all those concerns," she said.

To help Redwood City’s shuttle get off the ground, the city has pledged $40,000, and the San Mateo City/County Agency of Governments is also contributing toward the $375-a-day initial costs. Company sponsors have not said how much they will put into the pot, Maley-Grubl said. Early ridership is estimated at 50-70 people per day.

The City Council will discuss the proposed route Monday.

Redwood City had a shuttle in the 1970s, which was disbanded because it cost too much money, according to Howard. Likewise, SCOOT, a popular shuttle service in San Carlos that served mostly school-age students and seniors, was disbanded in 2005 after residents voted against a tax to pay for the $600,000-a-year program.

San Mateo once offered a downtown shuttle that has since been abandoned, while Burlingame’s trolley remains an option for residents and shoppers to get around town. Most successful shuttles have two things going for them: a good route and good marketing, according to Rich Napier, executive director of C/CAG.

"For city shuttles, they need to go between senior centers, transit and downtown," Napier said. "And at some point there needs to be some cost share — government can’t pay for all of it."

When Redwood City launches a shuttle connection for residents to go downtown, they may be asked to pay a fee or contribute some other way.

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