Those hoping to find a fast and efficient way to get downtown during their lunch hour may soon be in luck.
Unitrans, in partnership with the Davis Downtown Business Association and other local organizations, is planning to launch a shuttle that would transport people from campus to downtown throughout the day.
U-DASH would cross subsidize the Tipsy Taxi program already set in place by Unitrans, said Geoff Straw, Unitrans general manager.
Unitrans already has two shuttles that are used for Tipsy Taxi that remain idle during the day.
“We are going to spread out our staff hours to run the additional shuttles,” Straw said. “No new staff will need to be hired.”
The program will not require any additional money from students, and it will cost about $90,000 to run the U-DASH program for one year, he said.
The shuttle will run from the bike circle in front of Shields Library to various stops in downtown Davis, Straw said. Stops are at the intersections of First and D Streets; Second and E Streets; G Street between Second and Third Street; and Third and E Streets.
The shuttle will depart approximately every eight to 10 minutes.
One of the main reasons for developing this program was due to the fact that the ASUCD Coffee House will be closing for renovations in the coming weeks.
“We want to be prepared for the [Coho] closing,” Straw said. “The MU renovation will directly affect downtown.“
The city of Davis along with Unitrans and the DDBA saw this as an imminent issue and therefore urged the project to get under way, he added.
Beginning June 15, the shuttle service will be free of charge and on Aug. 3, a $1 round trip fee per rider will be imposed.
“We want to give people a chance to try [the shuttle] out without the pressure of having to pay a fare,” Straw said.
Project coordinators have also been encouraging Davis downtown businesses to validate shuttle tickets, making it more worthwhile for users, Straw said. Offering $1 off your purchase or meal downtown would make people more inclined to pay the fee to ride.
The DDBA is also excited about the U-DASH shuttle, and the business it may bring to downtown.
“This will be a good thing for downtown businesses,” said Joy Cohan, administrator of the DDBA. “We are always looking to strengthen and enhance our relationship with the university and the faculty, staff and students.”
While there have been previous attempts at creating a shuttle service, they did not have the right level of forethought and funding, Cohan said. Now project coordinators have the right formula to make the program work.
“It has long been a barrier for faculty and staff – having a short lunch hour and not wanting to lose their parking place on campus, or look for parking downtown,” she said. “[U-DASH] resolves all those barriers so faculty and staff can come downtown for lunch.”
For students, downtown also becomes a place where they can relax and meet their retail needs, Cohan said. It allows the DDBA to build relationships with students because transportation barriers are removed.
“People are very excited about U-DASH,” she said. “In this economy, anything that is going to bring added bodies to downtown is very welcome.”
Running the first U-DASH shuttles in the summer will give Unitrans and its partners a chance to see how the program works at a time when there is not the highest student volume in Davis, Cohan said. It will give them a chance to work everything out and make sure U-DASH runs smoothly.
City of Davis officials are also part of the planning process, and are looking forward to launching U-DASH.
“For several years, the city of Davis, the DDBA [and Unitrans] … have identified the potential opportunity for a direct shuttle between core campus and downtown,” said Ken Hiatt, deputy city manager.
More information will be posted as it becomes available at unitrans.com.
CAITLIN COBB can be reached at email@example.com.