By Eric Heinz
During the Aug. 2 City Council meeting, Council members approved a measure to accept funding for a ride-share program that is intended to fill the need for passengers who will be affected by the discontinuance of Orange County Transportation Authority bus routes 191 and 193, which run through San Clemente.
The routes are expected to be cut on Oct. 9.
Councilman Tim Brown brought the idea to Council earlier this summer, after seeing similar programs in larger cities that use the services for personal transportation. Think of the project as a public Uber or Lyft, the popular ride-sharing applications.
The way it works is people will be able to use an app on their phones to alert a driver who will take passengers to various stops along a proposed route.
“We have two years of funding and we have to have a cooperative agreement in place with OCTA,” Tom Frank, city Transportation Engineer Manager, said. “We’re likely going to publish a request for proposal and go out to multiple providers so we can address the different issues, such as people with disabilities.”
Frank said the number of vehicles running the routes will depend upon how many people utilize the service.
“Whomever is going to provide the service will be coordinating closely with us to get a pool of applicable drivers,” Frank said.
Frank said the city’s goal is to have at least six riders per hour (72 per day) between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the first year of service. After that, the goal will be to get 10 riders per hour (120 per day). Those numbers are a little lower than the current ridership on the OCTA buses.
The city has not contracted the service yet and no route has been planned, but Frank said the service will stop at most of the existing bus routes. Additionally, the city will try to get the service operational by the time the bus routes stop, but it’s going to be close.
“It’s a pretty lofty goal because there hasn’t really been a program like this in the nation,” Frank said. “We’re just trying to see if we can get the agreements in place to make it happen. So far, the companies we’ve talked to sound like they’re pretty motivated. They said they can act quickly on their side. So from my perspective, the biggest challenge is to see if we can get the legal agreements in place by the deadlines needed so we can get the agreements in place.”