As a result of falling state funding for the program, the UC Davis Fleet Services Berkeley Bus will streamline its operations for its afternoon route to continue service.
According to the director of Fleet Services, Richard Battersby, state funding for the program has dropped from $87,000 in 2000 to about $60,000 in 2010. Streamlining the afternoon route is expected to generate annual savings of $20,000 in salary and mileage costs.
“The possibility of having further reductions is there,” Battersby said. “So we’ve been looking at the operation to see where we could streamline without impacting the ridership.”
As part of this consolidation, the service will cut a current mail drop to Berkeley and a stop at the Northern Regional Library Facility at Richmond, shaving two and a half hours from the afternoon schedule.
Under the existing schedule the morning shuttle returns from Berkeley with interlibrary loans for the campus and the afternoon service delivers returning material to UCB. In the new schedule, returned books will be sent on the morning shuttle.
During previous budget reductions, Fleet Services offset the cost with increases to ticket prices, which rose from $5.50 to the current $9.75 cost for a one-way trip.
“We’re trying to keep the ticket prices low for as long as possible and the program as cost effective as possible,” said Mark Robinson, bus operations supervisor for Fleet Services.
The UC Davis/Berkeley Bus Team has also released a survey for its riders to determine the new departure and return times. Currently the evening shuttle departs from the Shields Library receiving dock at 2:15 p.m. and arrives at UC Berkeley’s West Gate Entrance at approximately 3:45 p.m. On the return trip, it departs from Berkeley at 6:30 p.m. and is back in Davis around 8 p.m.
The survey options would change the departure to a time between 2 and 4 p.m. and the return to a time between 4 and 6 p.m.
Although the loss of two and a half hours might be substantial, Robinson noted that the morning departure and evening return are the most heavily traveled times and that few passengers arrive and leave on the same bus route. Robinson and Battersby said the schedule change could also expand ridership to include people who would feel leaving earlier would be more convenient.
“We don’t know if we’ve tapped our whole market,” Robinson said. “There’s a whole new group of people who could benefit from this shuttle program. We may have maxed out the people who would ride or maybe we’ll see a huge influx.”
Fleet Services will take steps to promote the shuttle service to the campus community and riders in Berkeley. They have partnered with Transportation and Parking Services’ (TAPS) goClub and Berkeley TAPS and will start an outreach campaign once the new schedule is set.
As for riders of the service, the unpredictability of a day’s plan in Berkeley might make choosing a new afternoon schedule a little difficult.
“I think earlier would be better,” said Rachael Valler, a sophomore sociology and women and gender studies double major. “I’d say it’d be nice to catch a bus back to Davis at 2 p.m. but it would totally depend on what I’m doing that day.”
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