ENCINITAS — Taking the bus will be easier on Saturdays come February.
The North County Transit District (NCTD) Board of Directors approved expanded bus service, including for Encinitas-centric routes, at a board meeting last week.
Route 304, which goes from Encinitas to San Marcos via Rancho Santa Fe Road Monday through Friday, will now run on Saturdays at 60-minute intervals.
Stops include Saxony Road and Leucadia Boulevard, as well as the Encinitas Coaster Station.
And Route 309, which travels from Oceanside to Encinitas via Rancho Santa Fe Road, added more buses on Saturdays. Instead of buses every 60 minutes, now they’ll go every 30 minutes.
“We’re revamping the network and putting in buses where we have demand,” said NCTD spokeswoman Deborah Castillo.
Bill Olszanicki, manager of service implementation with NCTD, said routes were chosen for expansion based on current ridership, census data, business growth and residents’ surveys.
New bus routes aren’t planned for Encinitas in the next year or two, he noted.
But NCTD is participating in a transit study analyzing the potential demand and economic sustainability of a shuttle service in Encinitas. Once it’s finished, the findings will illuminate whether there’s a demand for a shuttle, possible routes, the cost and several potential funding models.
The Encinitas City Council approved funding for the shuttle survey this past spring.
The study could also provide data to base future NCTD bus routes on. However, at this point, it’s too early to tell what NCTD will do with the findings, Olszanicki said.
The new schedule takes effect in February.
In addition to Route 304 and 309, NCTD expanded service for three other routes: 347, 355/357 and 313.
In total, the cost is estimated at $900,700 on an annual basis. Funding comes from Federal Transit Administration and Transportation Development Act grants.