Regional transportation center planned for Capistrano Avenue in Atascadero

A new regional transportation center is planned for Capistrano Avenue in Atascadero. Earlier this week the Atascadero City Council designated the site, adjacent to Colony Square, for design and environmental review.

Buses now dock near the city’s Rotunda building but upcoming construction at the historic city hall is expected to disrupt bus service there.

Atascadero and Arroyo Grande are the only cities in the Regional Transit Authority system that do not have a dedicated transit facility.

The facility is needed to meet a growing demand of public transit use, said Russ Thompson, public works director for the city.

Ridership on the North County Shuttle, the main route through Atascadero, served more than 90,000 people in 2008 — a 7.7 percent increase from 2007. RTA routes increased ridership by 20 percent in 2008, Thompson said.

“With the increased awareness and desire of the community to reduce greenhouse gases, and counteract rising fuel prices we expect transit use to increase over time,” Thompson said. “The Transit Center will definitely help better serve the transit users in our community, as well as help with economic development in the downtown area.”

The city will spend $84,519 in federal funds on design of the center, the environmental review and the necessary construction documents.

Expected funding from the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments will pay for construction, anticipated to be more than $900,000, using money from Proposition 1B, a transportation bond approved by California voters in 2008.

The transit center’s amenities have not yet been determined, but will likely include shelter from the weather, benches and lighting. Surveys of bus riders found that those things, coupled with safety and easy access, are the key requirements for the new site, Thompson said.

The site was selected from four alternatives: the existing transit stop at the Rotunda building, a spot near the Atascadero Main Street Association building on El Camino Real, the Fire Station on Lewis Avenue, and Capistrano Avenue.

The Capistrano location was selected because of its proximity to the downtown, including the Colony Square project expected to break ground in October.

The new facility is not expected to be built until next year.