June 29, 2010

MST trolley

Otter Trolley to provide Salinas-to-CSUMB bus service

Starting Sept. 7, students, faculty and staff members will be able to commute from their homes or jobs in Salinas to CSU Monterey Bay via a direct bus route.

Monterey Salinas Transit will add a new service, Line 25 – the Otter Trolley – that will connect downtown Salinas, Hartnell College, East Campus housing, central campus, the Dunes Shopping Center and other commercial locations in Marina.

In a study completed last year, MST identified the campus community as an untapped market that was not well served by public transit. But, "there was an issue with getting the funding together to provide more service," Carl Sedoryk, general manager of MST, told Metro Magazine.

Otter trolley logoLast school year, the university and MST teamed up to provide fare-free service on Line 16, which runs from Monterey to Marina via campus. Riders board the bus at campus stops for free; fares must be paid for the return trip. "Ridership increased by 1,000 percent," said campus transportation planner Megan Tolbert. That also led MST to believe there was a potential for more riders to and from campus.

The funding issue was solved when the Transportation Agency for Monterey County agreed to foot the bill for about $306,000 of the $425,000 total cost of the service. Fares paid by riders are expected to cover the rest – approximately $119,000 – Tolbert said.

The trolleys can be boarded anywhere on campus – including East and Central Campus – for free. Return fare will be $2.50. They will stop at all current shuttle stops and MST stops.

Line 25 will operate twice an hour, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., on weekdays when school is in session.

The trolleys are equipped with wheelchair lifts and are just as convenient as the current campus shuttle service, which the new bus line may eventually replace. They will stop at all existing shuttle stops as well as MST stops.

Bike racks have not yet been installed on the vehicles, but each one can accommodate two bikes inside.

"I think it's great that we've been able to work with CSUMB to provide mobility and opportunities for students to explore the community and have access to jobs," Sedoryk told Metro Magazine. "I think it will be good for the students and the local economy. And we're happy to be a part of that."

A brochure with route map and schedule for the new line is available from Tolbert at 582-4262 and can also be found online at csumb.edu/trip.

More information about Monterey Salinas Transit is available at http://www.mst.org.