The North County Transit District (NCTD), San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and the City of Carlsbad today announced the Carlsbad Connector on-demand shuttle service pilot program managed by the multi-agency partnership has ended. With the conclusion of the pilot program, and as a result of temporary service reductions implemented on COASTER trains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the service will be temporarily suspended beginning Friday, July 31, 2020. It is anticipated that NCTD will assume operations and funding for a new pilot micro-transit program within NCTD’s existing FLEX brand once the service is re-launched.
SANDAG iCommute employee surveys previously conducted in Carlsbad revealed more than 850 commuters expressed interest in using transit, and local businesses expressed challenges with recruitment and retention of employees who lived further south and wanted to avoid freeway traffic. As a result, the Carlsbad Connector was launched in August 2019 as a solution to the first-last-mile challenge of transporting commuters to and from major transit hubs to their final destinations; it was the first of its kind in San Diego County.
More than 400 riders per week were transported on the Carlsbad Connector at its peak in February 2020, shuttling between the Carlsbad Poinsettia COASTER station and workplaces in the city. The Carlsbad Connector demonstrated a 96% on-time performance and achieved 4.9 out of 5 stars in average customer ratings. To date, the service has logged more than 10,000 rides.
“The City of Carlsbad is proud of this pilot program that supported commuters throughout the region in a completely new way, making it easier for them to get to and from their workplace and the COASTER station,” said Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall. “In addition to serving companies and employees who commute to Carlsbad, the pilot service provided invaluable data and insight that has far-reaching applications to further long-term sustainable transportation projects and support continued economic growth in our city and region. We are excited about NCTD’s plan to advance a new pilot program that will continue to include key service features that were used in the Carlsbad Connector.”
“The success of the Carlsbad Connector is a great example of how partnership and technology can enhance connectivity, increase sustainability and improve quality of life in the San Diego region,” said SANDAG Vice Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “As SANDAG develops the blueprint for the future of transportation in our region, we are gaining insight by working alongside our partners, NCTD and the City of Carlsbad, to support similar flexible fleet pilot programs in the future.”
The NCTD pilot program will be aligned with NCTD’s new service and operational plans that are anticipated to be finalized in the coming months.
“NCTD has an exciting multi-year plan to significantly improve transit services,” said NCTD Board Chair and Encinitas Councilmember Tony Kranz. “I look forward to seeing increased COASTER and BREEZE bus frequencies that will be complemented with flexible, user-friendly on-demand services that are being developed by NCTD.”
NCTD plans to implement a new pilot on-demand service in April 2021, assuming the impacts of COVID-19 have significantly eased, within the cities of Carlsbad and San Marcos that will provide commuters flexible and convenient shared transportation options to help reduce emissions and achieve a sustainable future as envisioned in SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Plan. The implementation of flexible fleets is also a key part of SANDAG’s 5 Big Moves to achieve reductions in harmful emissions.
For more information and schedules for BREEZE bus routes servicing the Carlsbad area, visit GoNCTD.com/Schedules