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Encinitas conducting outreach for transit study

ENCINITAS — Want to help shape local transit plans? Take a three-minute survey on the city’s website. 

For a study, the city is in the midst of analyzing the potential demand and economic sustainability of a shuttle service in the city. Additionally, once the study is completed, Encinitas will have a better idea of how locals use transit.

To inform the study, the survey collects information like how residents get to work, where they travel to for their job and how much they’d be willing to pay for a shuttle.

The City Council approved funding for the study this past spring. It’s expected the survey will be done next June.

And once it’s finished, it will include findings about the need for a shuttle, potential routes, the cost and several funding models, according to Mike Strong, associate planner with the city. Also, with the study, the city should have a clearer perspective on transit patterns as a whole.

“We’ll learn about which transit infrastructure people commonly use,” Strong said.

He added that the city would be more likely to receive transportation grants with the study. That’s because it will have documented which areas of the city have a demand for public transit.

Along with the online version, Strong said that city staff members are administering the survey in person to residents at places like the Encinitas Coaster Station and MiraCosta College’s San Elijo Campus. They’re also reaching out to the elderly via various senior services. And paper surveys are available at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center, the Encinitas Library and Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association.

The electronic survey launched on Monday.

Two days later, Strong noted that roughly 375 people had responded online, with about 150 people filling out in-person surveys.

This August, the city kicked off its outreach effort. It held three stakeholder meetings with groups like the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and the Encinitas Bike and Pedestrian Committee to gauge the successes and pitfalls of local transit. The stakeholder groups are scheduled to weigh in again next month.

Funding for the study comes from a $100,000 grant from Caltrans. Additionally, the city provided an in-kind contribution of up to $25,000 in staff time.

North County Transit District (NCTD) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) are helping the city with the study. Strong noted that NCTD is interested in the study since it will provide added data for bus routes. For SANDAG, a regional transportation agency, the study could serve as a template for other cities in the region.

The survey, which closes Oct. 7, can be found on the city’s website.