Monday, August 08, 2005

Mare Island in Vallejo may get shuttle buses to Baylink Ferry

August 8, 2005

M.I. may get shuttle buses to ferry dock

By MATTHIAS GAFNI, Times-Herald staff writer

With a burgeoning Mare Island population, the city hopes to bring back a Baylink Ferry shuttle bus to serve the former shipyard.

The city's transportation department plans to apply for regional grants that would kick-start the program, pending a Vallejo City Council vote Tuesday.

The $130,000 one-time only grant for operations and equipment would come from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The city would collect another almost $70,000 in matching funds through private businesses and passenger fares.

"Lennar is really pushing us to do this, and we're really pushing them back for help," said John Harris, Vallejo's transportation manager.

Lennar Mare Island, a developer of the former shipyard, wants the shuttle service to begin serving the new businesses on the island and its new residents. More than 120 homes have been sold, with people moving in since June.

"Baylink Ferry is a very important component of the Mare Island reuse plan. We're very supportive of the city's efforts to obtain grants that would contribute to the fostering of a transit-oriented community on Mare Island," Lennar spokesman Jason Keadjian said.

"Mare Island is intended to be a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use community for both businesses and homeowners. This will allow people to work and live on the island, walk to a shuttle stop and be in downtown San Francisco in about an hour," he said.

The specifics of shuttle stops and frequency haven't been worked out yet, Harris said. "If we get the money, we'll work out the details," he said.

The grant only funds one year of service, Harris said.

"If it's effective, we'll keep applying for money. If they cut us off, we'll go to the private side for help," he said.

The city had been funding a Baylink Ferry shuttle a few years back, Harris said, before budget constraints caused it to be dropped. That shuttle service, which cost the city about $65,000 a year, had low ridership with only a dozen core riders, he said.

But Mare Island has changed since then, the transportation head said, citing the growth of businesses and new residents.

The council will also vote Tuesday on giving the green light to other transportation grant opportunities.

An $85,000 grant could allow the city to relocate and refurbish eight Vallejo Transit bus stops in some of the city's busiest thoroughfares. "We're in great need of replacing the bus shelters," Harris said.

Transportation officials also hope to apply for $212,000 in federal transit funds for Route 85 service. The three years of funding would assist operations costs for the regional route, which takes riders from Vallejo to such destinations as the Fairfield shopping mall and Solano Community College.

"There's money there for the taking, and we qualify," Harris said. "We're scrambling every way we can to find money."

- E-mail Matthias Gafni at or call 553-6825.

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