Santa Rosa to replace free downtown shuttle with parking pass

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Plagued by low ridership, a free Santa Rosa bus service will shuttle passengers to and from the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station in Railroad Square for the last time Friday as the city moves to replace it with a discounted parking permit.

The City Council in late November decided to end the ParkSMART shuttle on March 1, a little more than a year after it began in December 2017.

Low ridership and relatively high trip cost were consistent problems for the shuttle. City staff previously determined that at its peak in September about 20 people rode the shuttle on a given day.

To partially offset the loss of the shuttle, the City Council in January approved a new permit allowing commuters who regularly use public transportation to park in the First Street garage for $31 a month. That’s half the cost of the regular monthly permit for the garage.

Transit riders who transfer between SMART and the Santa Rosa CityBus system will continue to receive discounts. SMART riders are eligible for a free two-hour transfer onto any public Santa Rosa bus, and city bus riders who pay with a Clipper Card receive a $1.50 credit upon transferring onto a SMART train.

To qualify for the discounted permit, commuters need to fill out an application, pay a one-time $10 startup charge and provide proof that they regularly use public transit. They can provide a reduced-price Santa Rosa CityBus or Sonoma County Transit monthly pass or a document showing they spent at least $25 with a Clipper Card in a month. Permit holders will be required to reverify their commuter spending every three months.

The application is available online at srcity.org/3023.

You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or will.schmitt@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @wsreports.

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