Stranded in the suburbs in need of a public transit ride to a doctor's appointment, shopping trip, or late night job?

Try a shuttle bus -- at least maybe some time in the future. San Ramon and Danville will soon be studying options for shuttle buses, jitney cars, and other flexible new transit options for the San Ramon Valley.

The San Ramon Valley has fairly limited public bus service and no BART station closer than Walnut Creek or Dublin.

To fill the gap, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority has allocated a $150,000 grant to the two towns for a joint study next year on transit alternatives to the traditional big bus on a fixed route.

One option is using smaller, cheaper shuttle vans traveling part time on fixed routes and part time into neighborhoods to pick up those who call or text in ride reservations.

"We know we have a very basic backbone of bus service that doesn't meet many people's needs," said Lisa Bobadilla, San Ramon's transportation division manager. "We have to think of something outside the box."

She said she doesn't blame County Connection for doing funding-related cuts in bus service in recent years in Central Contra Costa and the San Ramon Valley. But the cuts have made it harder for many to take transit, she added.

The shuttle idea appeals to San Ramon City Councilman Dave Hudson, who sees it as a way to help employees and employers.


Advertisement

Providing shuttles to carry workers to jobs could reduce expenses that companies must pay for parking lots or garages for car commuters, Hudson said.

"We see more grants available for projects that reduce greenhouse gases," said Hudson, also a member of the boards for County Connection and the Bay Area's air pollution agency.

Danville officials see a shuttle as potential help for the growing number of aging baby boomers who want to continue living in town.

A shuttle also could help carry people of all ages to downtown shops, restaurants, and businesses, said Tai Williams, Danville's director of community development.

The study will examine alternative types, costs, financing and operators for transit alternatives.

Walnut Creek pays a $200,000 annual subsidy to keep a popular downtown trolley service free to the public. That model, however, may not fit into more decentralized towns like Danville and San Ramon with fewer downtown visitors and workers, planners said.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff