The other day I was driving through San Carlos, and was following an immaculately clean SamTrans shuttle bus with the letters “FLX” emblazoned across the back. I certainly hadn’t seen one of these before, nor did I have any idea what “FLX” stood for. So as usual, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check it out.
As it turns out, back in January of this year SamTrans launched pilot programs in both San Carlos and Pacifica to provide low-cost “flexible” transit services (hence the letters FLX) for local residents along a fixed route within both communities. The system simply runs on clearly defined loop at certain intervals during the day, and residents can wait at one of the stops for a quick, cheap ride downtown. The route stops at logical places, such as the Caltrain Station and the Adult Activity Center downtown.
The added twist to FLX is that residents also have the ability to arrange to be picked and drop-off anywhere within the city — but they need to call a day in advance to arrange for that service.
For those of you who have lived here long enough, this sounds quite similar to the long-defunct S.C.O.O.T. program that once provided free rides throughout San Carlos. FLX is not free, but fares range from $1.00 per ride for seniors, to $2.00 for adults. Day passes for the same groups are available for $2.50 and $5.00, respectively.
According to this article in the San Jose Mercury news, ridership on the pilot service has been light — either because people are reluctant to try it, or they simply don’t know about it. I certainly fall into the latter category, as I’m sure many of you do. Consequently, only an average of about 12 riders per day are using the service, which is probably not going to be enough to keep SamTrans interested in continuing the service beyond the pilot period. Figures for the Pacifica were not mentioned in the article.
Below is a map of the FLX route in San Carlos and Redwood City, along with the fare schedule:
Customers can arrange to have the bus pick them up and drop them off at locations throughout San Carlos when it’s not on a fixed schedule by calling 650-560-0360 a day in advance. This is a pretty unique approach to helping alleviate the parking crunch downtown, while providing rides to people who may not have convenient modes of transportation.
For those very reasons, I certainly hope it survives the pilot period and becomes a regular service in the City of Good Living….
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