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$1 beach shuttle bus gets ready for summer run

ENCINITAS — The idea of a shuttle bus to take residents and tourists to popular destinations along the coast from Leucadia to Cardiff-by-the-Sea is on track to make its inaugural run this summer.
City Council voted unanimously May 28, 2008, to support the shuttle service.
Rather than begin the service immediately, the council agreed to postpone the launch of the minibus until summer 2009. The additional year provided an opportunity to seek additional grants and sponsorships to offset the operational expenses.
The service is planned to begin with a small-scale operation that would shuttle residents and visitors alike on weekends along the Coast Highway 101 from Cardiff-by-the-Sea to Leucadia. Several stops would be added along the 7- mile route including shops and beaches with a planned resort in Leucadia, a downtown mixed-use complex called Pacific Station and the state campgrounds in Cardiff-by-the-Sea serving as anchors.
The Coast Cruiser committee, comprised of local residents, has been meeting weekly to hammer out the details of the program.
Peder Norby, the city’s Highway 101 coordinator, told the council March 11 that the Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association was primarily responsible for seeking grants and administering the pilot project. To date, he said, grants and sponsorships received had covered the majority of the necessary funds.
The cost of operating the shuttle service for 10 hours per day during 12 weekends in the summer came to $25,000. Norby said the project could potentially pay for up to 90 percent of the operating costs through grants, sponsorships and fares. The cost of one ride is $1. Weekend passes are also available.
In a city with few public transportation options, Norby said the committee of citizens, community groups and business owners looked to other municipalities with shuttle services as a guide. Santa Barbara operates an electric shuttle along the city’s main visitor corridor.
Paula Kirpalani of the Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association said that the city had an opportunity to be a leader in the area of alternative transportation. “Other cities will be looking to us and say, ‘Let’s do it like Encinitas,’” she said.
North County Transit District operates a bus that passes through the city once every half-hour while approximately 18,000 vehicles drive along the coastal corridor each day, most carrying only a single motorist according to Norby.
Carolyn Cope, an arts commissioner, said she was excited to use the bus for the Leucadia Art Walk and surf competitions.
Councilman Jerome Stocks said he was disappointed that the bus was not emission free and that too much of the budget came from government grants. The council committed $10,000 while County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price contributed $5,000.
“We looked for electric,” Councilwoman Teresa Barth said. She is a member of the Coast Cruiser committee.
Councilman Dan Dalager said he supported the pilot program as a first step. “I’m 100 percent for it,” he said.