Budget cuts in Paso Robles could doom the popular North County Shuttle, which links the city with Atascadero and serves thousands of riders.
The shuttle averages 80,372 riders per year, officials said.
The Paso Robles City Council will consider this and other transit cut proposals at its Feb. 15 meeting. If all the proposed changes are made, Paso Robles stands to save $145,000.
The city’s transit system has experienced funding reductions of 27 percent — $351,000 — since fiscal year 2008 due to declining sales tax revenue, according to the city.
Part of the city’s savings plan is to terminate its North County Shuttle contract with Atascadero. The current deal, in effect since 2006, has Atascadero and Paso Robles providing one bus each to carry both cities’ riders along the North County Shuttle route from Cuesta College’s campus off Highway 46 East in Paso Robles to Paloma Creek Park in southern Atascadero.
If the contract were terminated, the new deal would keep each town’s bus within its respective city lines and change the route in each city. Paso Robles’ bus would then take on the Paso Express name.
Paso Robles would also bring in a bus from San Luis Obispo County Regional Transit Authority’s Route 9 to fill the void. The change could particularly impact Cuesta College students using their free North County Shuttle pass because a transfer bus would be added to their commute.
The possible transfer route, now in talks, could go from the Las Tablas Road area in Templeton to the Target store area on Theatre Drive in Paso Robles.
Finalized details are expected in July, Atascadero Public Works Director Russ Thompson said. He hopes riders won’t get frustrated with the transfers.
Meanwhile, Paso Robles city staff tout the change as positive because the transfer would be structured to Cuesta’s class schedule and help San Miguel riders, who rode RTA before, get to class.
The Paso Robles City Council will also consider increasing Dial-A-Ride fares from $3 to $4 per ride and increasing bus fares from $1.25 to $1.50 per ride.