New Carlsbad Connector service will ease travel woes

  BY CHRISTIE MARCELLA Economic Development Manager CITY OF CARLSBAD One of the City of Carlsbad’s major tasks in advancing the local economy is helping our businesses recruit and retain the talent they need to be successful. As part of those efforts, the Economic Development staff meet with businesses in the city, especially businesses in our key industry clusters, to see how we can help.

We have been hearing a common theme from several of our businesses regarding the simple chore of getting to and from work:

• Businesses experience difficulty retaining employees who want to live closer to downtown San Diego.

• Recruiting talent from regions with better transit service is difficult.

• Employees seeking to use mass transit to commute to and from work find the existing system insufficient as a regular commuting option.

The Carlsbad Connector is a pilot shuttle service operating between the Poinsettia Train Station and major employment centers in the McClellan-Palomar Airport area and along Avenida Encinas.

Commuters find public transit good at getting them between San Diego and North County on the Coaster, but not so good at getting them from the train station to their workplace, especially for companies in our core industrial hub around Palomar-McClellan Airport.

By partnering with the North County Transit District (NCTD), which operates the COASTER service, and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), our metropolitan planning organization, we are happy to report that this month we will launch the Carlsbad Connector, a pilot shuttle service operating between the Poinsettia Train Station and major employment centers in the McClellan-Palomar Airport area and along Avenida Encinas.

So coast to work and skip the traffic. This service will run using an app-based technology developed by RideCo, and will work like Uber and Lyft ride-share programs, allowing commuters to book trips between the train station and their workplaces up to three days in advance.

Commuters will ride in 12-passenger vans, one of which is fully ADA accessible, each equipped with Wi-Fi and two bike racks. The service will drop employees within a five-minute walk of their workplace.

The project will serve commuters arriving on COASTER trains between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and departing between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Don’t worry, taking the Carlsbad Connector doesn’t mean you have to bag your lunch on the days you ride. The service will also be offered from noon to 3 p.m. for lunch service, stopping at prime lunch spots like Bressi Ranch, The Island on Faraday Avenue, and even Carlsbad Village. Order what you want, no one’s driving back with a food coma.

Commuters who have COASTER monthly passes or a daily Region Plus pass will ride free, and anyone else will pay $2.50 for a one-way ride.

Our goal is to test this pilot project for a year and gather information with the aim of establishing a permanent system that will be supported by our agencies and the business community. With better data, we can engage our business community based on real ridership information which can help them better plan for transportation investments for their employees based on quantifiable need.

The program will also help the city achieve goals of our Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce the number of commuters who drive solo to jobs within the city, and with the city’s Transportation Demand Management Program, which seeks to reduce emissions by decreasing the number of employees who drive to work alone.

Businesses can work directly with RideCo to set up accounts or coupon codes to cover the cost of individual trips.

To set that up, contact us at [email protected] and our team will connect you with RideCo. Transportation accessibility is an important talent attraction and retention tool, and the City of Carlsbad is excited to take a leading role in helping our business community find innovative solutions to create a better future locally and regionally.