Residents of the Monument neighborhood will soon have their own mode of transportation again — an on-demand, free-to-ride shuttle service aimed at improving mobility for low-income, senior and disabled residents, but open to the whole community.
The service will be half funded by a grant from the Lifeline Transportation Program, administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The city will pay an estimated $160,138 out of Measure J funds, and the Monument Community Partnership (MCP) and Michael Chavez Center will volunteer the rest, for a total project cost of just under $628,000. Funding covers a three-year period.
A shuttle service was originally instated in 2007 along the Monument corridor. It also ran for three years, but ridership declined and the city decided not to reapply for the grant to continue the project.
"The difference now is that the old program was run by County Connection and based on fixed routes," said Ray Kuzbari, Transportation Manager for the City of Concord. "The new program would be run from within the Monument community," with oversight from MCP and the Michael Chavez Center, as well as the City of Concord.
The new routes will be "based on demand and flexible," Kuzbari told the Concord City Council at Tuesday's meeting.
People in the community would be able to call and reserve the shuttle for transportation, according to the Monument Neighborhood Shuttle plan.
The program will primarily serve residents from the Monument community including low-income residents, seniors, people with disabilities and those who do not own cars, said Kuzbari. However, the service will be open to all who live in the proposed project area, which runs from Bancroft and Treat in the south to Market and Willow Pass in the north.
The shuttle will stop at BART, shopping centers, medical facilities, and the Senior Center among other destinations, according to Kuzbari.
A working group will be established as part of the first phase of the project in 2013 to begin designing the operation. The group will consist of those involved in the development of the current shuttle project, according to the city, as well those involved in the Monument Corridor Community-Based Transportation Plan (CBTP) approved in 2006. Regular reports on shuttle's ridership will be provided to MTC and the city to measure the project's effectiveness, Kuzbari said.
"Not only do we have a responsibility to make sure the program is run effectively," said Kuzbari, "but also we have a responsibility to make sure Measure J money is being used effectively as well."
When asked by councilmember Laura Hoffmeister whether or not the funds for this project would mean diverting cash from elsewhere, Kuzbari replied that there is still around $1 million in the kitty to provide transportation with a focus on seniors and the disabled. This year, Transportation Partnership and Cooperation (TRANSPAC) provided grants of around $350,000 to non-profit organizations for such services in Central Constra Costa County.
"We're looking for good projects and we think this one is as good as any project I have seen," he said.
Hoffmeister added that the Senior Center is asking for transportation elsewhere in the community.
"I just want to make sure we're not putting all our eggs in one basket," she said.
According to the city's 2006 CBTP research, transportation in the Monument community is marred by infrequent bus service; inconvenient transfers; high transit fares; lack of access to medical facilities as well as fresh food stores and other shopping amenities, and insufficient access to BART and employment centers. The Monument corridor is one of the most densly populated neighborhoods in Contra Costa County, according to the city, and 63 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line.
The council unanimously approved moving ahead with the Monument Neighborhood Shuttle Project Tuesday evening, accepting the grant from MTC.
"I think it's a win-win for the city," said Mayor Ron Leone.
What do you think of the Monument Neighborhood Shuttle Project? Share your thoughts in the comments. View the full project proposal in the media box above.