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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Council Vetoes Continued Funding for Point Shuttle

• Transit Money Is Usable Elsewhere

BY BILL KOENEKER


Calling it “the ghost shuttle,” Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich successfully urged her colleagues at this week’s Malibu City Council meeting to not spend any more money on the Point Dume nature shuttle.
It has sometimes also been called the “van to nowhere,” since its function is to transport folks from Westward Beach Road to the top of the Point Dume Headlands.
Public Works Director Bob Brager acknowledged that ridership is very low and the cost per person per ride averages about $67 for the short trip.
“We should not renew the [$54,600] contract,” said Conley Ulich. “It is a ghost shuttle.”
Council members briefly discussed the matter and were most concerned whether they would lose the transportation funding, if they terminated the contract for the shuttle. They were assured the money could be used for some other kind of transportation that would move riders from one end of Malibu to the other.
“Nobody here thinks we should do this,” said Councilmember Laura Rosenthal, who wanted to know why the staff recommended the council approve the contract for another year
“We have to give notice to the contractor and the California Coastal Commission and State Parks,” said City Manager Jim Thorsen. “The public works commission was charged with looking at it. But we can terminate it now. There is limited use of the Prop A funds, but they will still be there and won’t go away.”
Members said they wanted a council subcommittee to look into the matter and the city manager said he would bring back an agenda item to form the panel.
Almost 11 years ago, the city entered into a settlement agreement with the Coastal Commission and the state Department of Parks and Recreation, which ended litigation over access to the Point Dume Headlands.
The agreement required the city to construct a limited number of parking spaces adjacent to the headlands and to provide shuttle service to transport passengers from Westward Beach up to the top of the headlands for a period of 10 years.
On March 10, 2010, the city fulfilled its 10-year, over a half-million-dollar obligation to the Coastal Commission and State Parks to provide the shuttle service, according to municipal officials.
During the operation, the ridership has been very low and sometimes non-existent with some council members, over the years, bitterly complaining about the costly obligation.
The shuttle has been funded by the city’s Prop A funds and that caused the ire of critics, who said the monies could be used for a more useful public program.

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