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Changes to commuter service coming

Two routes eliminated, Highway 50 route to be implemented
By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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If you’re a Roseville bus rider, you might want to double check your bus schedule. At its meeting last week the Roseville City Council approved service changes proposed by Roseville’s Alternative Transportation division that will reduce operation costs. “We had to reduce our costs because of the state budget and sales tax funding that we had been getting that was dropped,” said Alternative Transportation manager Mike Wixon. “We looked at our ridership and made changes to use our resources where it made sense.” Beginning Jan.4 2010, commuters will notice the No.2 and No. 8 routes that run between Roseville and downtown Sacramento will be eliminated and combined with the earlier No.1 and No. 7 routes. “We didn’t want to increase our fares just yet, so we looked at other ways to cut costs,” Wixon said. Because the ridership of the morning and evening commuter routes was low, Wixon said it seemed financially feasible to combine the two routes to increase overall ridership without disrupting service altogether. Other modifications to commuter services include the addition of a route along Highway 50 to the Butterfield light rail station. A study conducted in 2006 showed a route that begins at Taylor Street and continues to Cirby Way and Sunrise Avenue before stopping at the Butterfield Light rail station warranted the highest demand for the new commuter service. “Overall, with the elimination of the two routes and the addition of the Highway 50 route we’re looking at a savings of roughly $37,000,” Wixon said. In addition to these schedule changes, council has asked the Alternative Transportation division of Public Works to offer additional ideas on raising revenue, which may include increasing fares in the future. “At this time, we’re not planning on raising our fares,” Wixon said. Currently, fares for residents using the commuter service is $3.25 round-trip and a monthly bus pass can be purchased for $110. “Our hope is that with the New Year, people will be making lifestyle changes and consider taking the bus,” Wixon said. “If we can increase ridership, maybe we can avoid raising fares or eliminating services.” In other business, council approved an action plan to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next several years. “This is essentially a guideline for the city to follow and plan for reducing our carbon footprint,” said Deputy City Manager Julia Burrows. “Because the guidelines are still being written, this is how we’re staying proactive and ahead of the curve so we’re prepared.” The plan includes several new projects and programs and modifications to existing city projects to “green” them for future reductions in carbon emissions. “An example would be the new indoor pool,” said Administrative Analyst Terri Shirhall. “We budgeted for the solar powered heating capabilities to reduce the electric and gas costs.” Shirhall said that although the steps to “green” projects may cost more upfront, the investments to make city projects sustainable pay off in savings from other resources. The approved plan calls for a 22.8 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses, a reduction currently compliant with state mandates. Burrows said the cost to fund the mitigation measures through the life of the plan is $29 million. The city must invest resources in the first three years and by year four, a positive net savings would result. Over the life of the plan, the net present value of the investment is $35 million for an 80 percent return on the city’s investment, mostly in the form of energy and fuel savings. “We have already started implementing and modifying plans to make ‘green’ projects,” Shirhall said. “And we’ve looked ahead to next year’s budget to work with departments to make modifications to upcoming projects.” “Green” projects in the works include improvements to the city’s Intelligent Traffic System, installation of solar panels on new buildings and trading fleet vehicles for environmentally friendly cars. Burrows and Shirhall said they hoped to fund the plan through grants and federal funding and are working with lobbyists in Washington, D.C. to seek out funding opportunities. A plan to reduce business owners’ and the community’s carbon footprint is also in the works to prepare for final federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. “By staying ahead of the game, we can be more flexible as legislation is put in place and as measures are prescribed,” Shirhall said. “The city can be in control of its footprint and be proactive rather than reacting to it later down the road.”