Wednesday, February 8, 2023

A Mini-Shuttle Traffic Solution for Coronado – Take Survey Today

Interested in a mini-shuttle traffic solution for Coronado? – click on this link to take a short survey providing feedback on the OZ mini-shuttle that can help keep Coronado Emerald Green, Ocean Blue. Read below to learn more about OZ.

Locals enjoy the relative calm of winter in Coronado knowing the deluge of tourists and traffic will arrive with summer. The increased traffic clogs our roads and brings noise, pollution, and safety risks. One partial solution is for Coronado to offer an electric mini-shuttle within the Village. Emerald Keepers proposes naming the mini-shuttle “OZ” to recall the whimsical travels on the yellow brick road of the Emerald City.

A potential design for the OZ mini shuttle as created by local artist Jody Esquer.

The OZ mini-shuttle would offer free rides anywhere around town in six-passenger electric vehicles (similar to a larger golf cart with doors), thereby reducing the number of cars driving and searching for parking. Locals and tourists could waive down the mini-shuttle or request a ride through a smartphone app. Examples of OZ operating in Coronado include Shores residents using the phone app to request a ride to Sharp Coronado Hospital or grocery store while visitors at the Ferry Landing could hail a ride to the Orange Avenue shops. Locals could also use OZ to visit friends across town or enjoy a night out at local restaurants. The mini-shuttles carry booster car seats to help families with young children access the service and also take pets. Depending on the level of interest, OZ could operate between two and six mini-shuttles simultaneously between the hours of 9am and 10pm. The electric mini-shuttles would charge overnight (using standard 110 volt outlets) at a designated site in Coronado.

Given Coronado’s population concentration and expected popular destinations, OZ would serve areas between North Island Naval Air Station and the Coronado Community Center and between the bay and ocean. OZ could also expand to include a larger electric van for service between the Village and Cays.

Proposed service area for Coronado’s OZ mini-shuttle.

In recent years the City of Coronado has offered free summer shuttle buses along the Orange Avenue corridor between City Hall and Ferry Landing every 15 minutes from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day (102 days). These free summer shuttle buses are contracted through San Diego’s public transportation agency, MTS, that provides drivers and four 40-foot natural gas powered buses with capacity for up to 45 passengers. The 4th of July weekend is the most popular time for the free summer shuttle buses when they average 12 passengers per trip. Overall, the free summer shuttle buses average less than 8 passengers per trip – far less than the 45 passenger capacity. In 2022, the City and Discover Coronado sponsored the free summer shuttle bus at a cost of $192,312. Projected costs for Coronado’s free summer shuttle bus in 2023 are not yet available. In past years, Coronado City Council voted on offering the free summer shuttle buses at a March Council meeting but the 2023 schedule has not been set.

Over 30 cities across eight states, including the California beach communities of Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, and Venice Beach, currently offer mini-shuttles to help manage traffic and parking. Oceanside and Newport Beach launched a mini-shuttle program specifically to address summer crowds. Chula Vista introduced a mini-shuttle for seniors over 55 in summer 2022 and plans to expand the service to all ages in 2023. Downtown San Diego’s mini-shuttle program started in 2016, expanding to 20 mini-shuttles operating seven days a week and serving over 1.1 million riders. These existing programs provide a proven model for Coronado to successfully implement a mini-shuttle program in our town.

The free mini-shuttle in downtown San Diego.

Mini-shuttle operations in all the above locations are managed by the private company, Circuit, in operation since 2011. In 2022, local government agency SANDAG selected Circuit as their approved mini-shuttle vendor for all San Diego cities (including Coronado) which circumvents the need for each city to issue a vendor request for proposal. By contracting with Circuit, Coronado would not need to buy or maintain vehicles, hire staff, arrange for insurance, or create the phone app; Circuit offers a turn-key operation that could launch in Coronado in spring 2023.

Mini-shuttle programs are typically subsidized by cities and/or private stakeholders so the service is free or low cost to riders. Revenue from advertisements on the outside of the shuttle vehicle helps offset some of the operating costs. Actual costs vary by levels and hours of service but would be comparable to Coronado’s free summer shuttle bus.

The City of Coronado’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) recognizes transportation as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions so includes multiple initiatives to reduce the number of vehicle miles driven in Coronado. One initiative identified in section 4.4 of the draft CAP is to provide a mini-shuttle service such as OZ by 2030. The City report identifies benefits of a mini-shuttle include improved air quality, fuel savings, reduced vehicle miles, and improved public health. Offering the OZ mini shuttle starting in 2023 would provide immediate value to residents, visitors, and local businesses while helping the City meet its climate action goals.

While Coronado’s ongoing traffic problems require many solutions, OZ can address traffic congestion in concentrated areas such as Orange Avenue, the beaches, and Ferry Landing. Coronado Main Street, the Chamber of Commerce and Sharp Coronado Hospital all support OZ as they recognize the value for residents, visitors, and businesses.

Are you ready to take OZ? Click on this link to take a short survey providing feedback on the OZ mini-shuttle that can help keep Coronado Emerald Green, Ocean Blue.





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