On Monday, San Luis Obispo Public Works department began the extension of the SLO Transit evening bus route.
Prior to the extension, route 4, which runs from Cal Poly to downtown, Los Osos Valley Road and back, stopped at 6:04 p.m. The route will now make its final stop at Los Osos Valley Road and Laguna Village at 8:44 p.m. The final pickup at Cal Poly will be at 8:10 p.m.
The extension is the result of a collaborative effort that began in the fall between Cal Poly, Associated Students Inc. and the city of San Luis Obispo.
The extension was one of the platforms of ASI President Todd Maki’s campaign last year. As chair of a transportation committee, Maki conducted a ride-along survey last year and determined that later service was the overwhelming improvement demanded by riders.
The extension comes on top of the expansion of the No. 5 evening route in January. Route 5 runs from Cal Poly to the Madonna shopping center, downtown and back. Maki said both routes (4 and 5), have been extended at no extra cost to Cal Poly, a gesture which Maki said the city performed “out of goodwill.”
“(The extension) was a campaign promise and has been a high priority, the city has been really helpful in getting this done,” Maki said.
Cal Poly subsidizes student riders’ fee every year, a figure which Maki estimates to be in the $300,000 range. The money, which allows students to ride with a PolyCard, is raised through various sources including parking tickets issued on campus. Despite the extensions, Cal Poly will not be required to contribute additional funds.
“This change is important for students because many classes at Cal Poly don’t end until after the bus routes have ended. Students will finally have much-needed transportation after their evening classes, which will improve safety and the overall transit situation in the city,” Maki said in a press release explaining the need for the extensions.
Throughout the months of collaboration, both sides also reached a tentative agreement on further extension of the evening hours for route 4 in addition to routes 6A and 6B. Maki said the funding for the extension will come via a county grant. The extended hours for the 4, 6A and 6B routes should begin this fall, although no plans have been finalized.
“These extensions (route 4 and 5) are just steps toward a bigger extension, which 6A and B will complete,” Maki said.
Routes 4, 5, 6A and 6B are the most popular among Cal Poly students with all three buses running through campus. With stops close to campus as well as downtown and the areas surrounding Los Osos Valley Road, the advantages for Cal Poly students are obvious.
Maki also believes the extensions will benefit the community as well.
“The focus (of the extensions) has been Cal Poly students, but it will help all of San Luis Obispo. The No. 4 route especially; it will provide service downtown to those who work there or want to shop there,” Maki said.