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Schedule changes for Free EPA Shuttle

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By Janay Scott                     
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Posted on Monday, July 18, 2011  
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The City of East Palo Alto is currently having problems finding the required funding to keep its free shuttle service fully operating, so the schedule for the free shuttle that is running in East Palo Alto is soon slated to change.

The Weekend Late Night Shuttle will be terminated effective Monday, July 18, 2011, due to low ridership and a lack of funding. The Weekend Late Night Shuttle will continue its regularly scheduled route until 2:00 a.m., Monday, July 18, 2011.

The "Free EPA Shuttle" was founded in 2003 as a result of the collaboration between city residents, community organizations, SamTrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

The EPA Shuttle caters primarily to two community groups: the city's senior citizens and the city's youth.

“The shuttle takes me home at night because it’s not always safe walking home since I go to College Track during the school year,” said Michelle, who is a high school student in the community.

Cutbacks in the free shuttle service were first scheduled because the city was not able to pay the workers driving the weekend routes. Now, the City of East Palo Alto needs money for the workers and for operational services.

According to figures released in the city's operating budget, which was just adopted, the city continues to face difficult fiscal challenges as a result of the ongoing recession.

Because of its current deficit, the East Palo Alto City Council has approved, for example, the recommendation to leave vacant police department positions unfilled and to stop various equipment purchases for a savings of $837,000.

The city's budget report describes how the city has attempted to get grants for the shuttle, but, thus far, the city's fundraising efforts have not been successful. The city's General Fund has an operating deficit of $3.3 million, which represents 22% of the General Fund revenues.

Given the city's current budget situation, the city's staff said the elimination of the Weekend Late Night Shuttle was unavoidable.

For further information regarding the East Palo Alto Free Shuttle, call 650.853.7143.

To contact the author of this article, Janay Scott, send an email to epatoday@epatoday.org.


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