Double-decker bus controversy arrives in San Luis Obispo

August 30, 2010


Updated Aug. 31. to include the price of the bus and statements by Tim Bochum, deputy director of public works.

Amid budget cuts and plans to raise the cost of bus service for the elderly and disabled, San Luis Obispo city officials announced a ribbon cutting ceremony to promote the addition of a new double-decker bus the city purchased for $850,000.

The ribbon cutting for the only California municipal-owned European style bus is scheduled for September 7 at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The 14 foot-high bus does not fit under railroad bridges and tree lined roads. Because of this, the bus was unable to cover all but a portion of one existing route without modifications.

City workers moved obstacles on the two busiest routes.

“To make sure there were no issues we trimmed trees and had the cable company raise two cables,” said Dee Lawson, public works transit assistant. “The bus will do Route 4 in the morning and Route 5 in the afternoon.”

In addition, public works’ officials are planning to reconstruct the opening of the maintenance building to accommodate the two-story vehicle. Additional costs, such as hiring an outside firm to wash the bus because it will not fit in the city’s wash station, are also expected.

Tim Bochum, deputy director of public works, said the city purchased the bus to eliminate problems with leave behinds in the past. Usually during the first few weeks of a quarter at Cal Poly, the city would run an extra bus for a few hours four mornings a week to eliminate problems with buses being to crowded to fit all the people waiting to get on.

And while the city has decided to take two spare buses out of commission and only purchase one new bus, the amount of miles being driven will remain unchanged, aside from the overflow buses that run at least 24 hours a year.

In addition, Bochum said the funds for the new bus do not come out of the same pot used for operational costs. The federal, state and county monies, primarily federal monies, used for the bus were for  earmarked for capital expenditures.

In June, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously to defer requests for permission to raise standard fares from $1.25 to $1.50 and disabled fares from 60 cents to 75 cents. In addition, they rejected proposals that riders, who currently use free transfer passes from bus to bus, pay the full rate for each transfer more than doubling their cost of riding the bus.

Councilman Andrew Carter noted that when the city raised standard fares from $1 to $1.25 and disabled and senior fares from 50 cents to 60 cents in 2009, the amount of revenue dropped because of a decrease in ridership.

The council asked staff to consider charging more for monthly passes to make up for a budget deficit attributed to the reduced ridership and a 16 percent reduction in state funding.

Staffers are now requesting permission to raise senior and disabled monthly passes from $12.50 to $15, Lawson said. In addition, riders, who currently use free transfer passes from bus to bus, would have to pay 75 cents if the fare modifications are approved.

John Webster, public works transit manager, warned the council in June that if they do not find away to lower the deficit, they would be forced to cut services.

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Are you kidding me??? I have a few ideas for cost cutting: There is a new energy just annouced for running vehicles (seriously), it called human waste. Undoubtedly SLO has enough of that to run their fleets of vehicles (I’m sure every department would have enough contributions to make). Would save thousands and pay for this bus in no time. Have Katie Lichtig contribute her $450 monthly car allowance to the transit fund since the bus stops at City Hall every 30 minutes and it should be used for City business only. Take the bus over to the Fire Station and have the firefigthers wash it daily as they await all those big fires they fight (they could rotate it weekly to a different fire station). Who approved this insane idea… Fire them and save more money!!!

WHOA WHOA WHOA!!! Are you telling me that Katie who is making about 312k is getting a $450 monthly car allowance?? You have got to be kidding me!? That is ridiculas.

Yup, under IRS rules, @ $0.50 a miles that equates to 900 miles a month. Where is she driving in SLO that equals 900 miles a month; oh yea, I forgot, her hushand and house is still down south, I guess we are paying for those trips too. But then let us not forget that in additional to the 40 hours of sick leave and 40 hours of vacation upon signing her contract she gets 160 hours of additional vacation, 80 hours of administrative time off, and 104 hours of holiday time (43 days a year = equals 2 months/22 work days a month) annually. Oh yea, don’t forget the Section of her contract that says that because she works so hard and long hours she can take additional “reasonable time off” not using any leave time. Also, if she quits/terminated she gets 9 months of pay and benefits. A real deal for the taxpayers. We should all remember this Nov 2 when we vote for these council members. Read her contract as listed on the City’s website, Salary/Benefits… Interesting!

Who in the ~!@#$%^&*()_+ negotiated this contract from SLO City? DId SLO City hire Gail Wilcox as a consultant to negotiate this “deal” for SLO taxpayers?

And just how much were these buses?

I agree what an idiotic wasteful idea. Was the BIA behind this one?

Gee, they coulda used it to shuttle people to Chief Callahan’s funeral. Of course, those people would have gotten to ride for free, while the rest of the community gets their fares raised to help pay for all these great decisions.

WTF ???

City Council Approves Sled Dog Service

Despite a lack of snow, the City Council today approved $300,000 for expenses related to the purchase of a team of Alaskan Huskies to pull sleds in the downtown area.

Admitting the sleds will have trouble navigating city streets on days when there is no snow, City Manager Shemp Howard said, “we’ve made arrangements to have snow trucked in from Canada on a daily basis.” The melt-off will be collected in special basins and used to water the hemp garden where city staff grows the dope they must be smoking.

Has anybody ever seen a city bus full? Why the double decker? Its not even true euro style, the ones in those cities (at least at tourist destinations) have an open top.

What a stupid waste of money…

We need to rename the SLO city council the SLOW city council and make them ride to work on a short bus.

This makes alot of sense. Go out and buy something that doesn’t work! Will not fit under bridges, will hit low hanging cables, can’t wash it in the city maintenance yard, and let’s charge more for it.

Sounds like good sound financial think to me-ha, ha, ha.

Will it ever end?

I give it one year from date of in service start, till a driver forgets about height and hits a low object. Any takers??

Good call, will any of the current drivers be allowed to drive this, or will they all require extra training?

Now that they are Teamsters, the drivers will probably spend 3 days in training (at taxpayer expense) and then command an additional $3.50/hour when they are driving “big blue.”

I’ve been waiting for an update on this hilarious fiasco for a while.

Please, oh please tell us just WHO thought this brainless idea up, they need to be publicly ridiculed.

The “Bus to Nowhere?”

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