Google Inc. officials revealed plans June 26 to extend funding for the Mountain View Community Shuttle for five years, enabling Phase 2 of the program to begin.
During Phase 1, Google totally funded the free shuttle service, operated by the company as part of an initiative to provide daytime transit options for Mountain View residents. Phase 2 will transition the operations from Google over the next year and allow the city to study the next steps for the program while providing stable and certain funding for the shuttle to continue at its current service levels.
Launched in 2015, the Mountain View Community Shuttle pilot program has provided more than 700,000 local rides. In 2018 alone, people took more than 200,000 rides on the shuttle, representing a 10 percent increase in ridership from the previous year. The pilot program, which was set to expire in 2019, will now continue through 2024 at its current service level.
“This is great news for the continuation of the pilot program and service, which many local residents have come to rely on in their daily routines,” said City Manager Dan Rich. “With this extension, Google will have committed more than $20 million from the program’s launch in 2015 through 2024.”
When Google entered the partnership with the city of Mountain View, the company had “high hopes” and has been pleased with its success, according to Brendon Harrington, Google’s director of transportation.
“Our priority is a free, green, accessible service for the Mountain View community, and we’re glad we can help this service continue,” Harrington said.
During Phase 1 of the pilot program, the service made several improvements based on community feedback. In 2016, operators simplified the schedule to connect to each of the 50 stops every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and every 60 minutes on weekends and holidays. In 2017 and 2018, they added a real-time tracking and mobile app component for riders to see where the shuttles are at any given time.
For Phase 2, city staff will study how the shuttle fits into the current mobility system, ways the system connects to other services and areas where service could be improved.
The Community Shuttle was designed to connect neighborhoods to shopping destinations, downtown Mountain View, entertainment attractions, city facilities, medical complexes and recreation areas. Six fully electric shuttles run seven days a week, equipped with seating for 16 passengers, a wheelchair lift, space for two wheelchairs, Wi-Fi connectivity and bicycle racks on the outside of the vehicle.
For more information, visit mvcommunityshuttle.com.