Carlsbad, Calif. launches commuter shuttle services

Aug. 21, 2019
The on-demand service travels between the Carlsbad Poinsettia Coaster Station and workplaces in Carlsbad.

A new on-demand shuttle service, the Carlsbad Connector, launched in Carlsbad, Calif. and travels between the Carlsbad Poinsettia Coaster Station and businesses in Carlsbad.  

As the first program of its kind in San Diego County, the pilot service is designed to increase Coaster ridership by providing a flexible and convenient solution to bridge the gap between the station and the city’s primary industrial and commercial areas.   

The innovative project is operated by a partnership with the city of Carlsbad, North County Transit District (NCTD) and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The Carlsbad Connector functions via a smartphone app, similar to ride hailing service apps. It was developed by RideCo with shuttles operated by WeDriveU. Commuters can book trips on 12-passenger vans that will shuttle them between the Poinsettia Coaster station and business parks near Palomar McClellan Airport and along Avenida Encinas. Employees will be dropped off within a short walk from their destination. The app optimizes routes for commuters to minimize the travel time to their destinations. The Carlsbad Connector app is available for both iPhone and Android users. Commuters who cannot access the app through a smartphone can book a ride by calling 760-407-6080.  

“We are delighted to offer commuters an easy and affordable option to book Carlsbad Connector service and get away from having to drive to work alone every day,” said Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall.     

The shuttles will service commuters from the Poinsettia Coaster station from 7 :00-9:00 a.m. and 3:00-6:00 p.m. To accommodate lunchtime transportation, Carlsbad Connector will also provide service from 12:00-3:00 p.m. from employment centers to local restaurants. Coaster monthly pass holders and those with a valid RegionPlus or Coaster Regional day pass will ride for free. One-way rides are $2.50 or $1.25 with a valid SDM (Senior, Disabled, Medicare) card for riders without one of these passes. Employers may coordinate with RideCo to cover the cost of employee trips.     “The Carlsbad Connector is a great example of how the SANDAG Five Big Moves can work together to enhance connectivity, increase sustainability and improve quality of life in the San Diego region,” said SANDAG Board Vice Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “Through this partnership with the SANDAG iCommute program, commuters can use smartphones to secure a ride on a flexible fleet between an emerging mobility hub at the Poinsettia transit station and nearby employment centers.”  

The Carlsbad Connector was launched in response to recruiting and retention challenges raised by local businesses that have employees who live further south and want to avoid freeway traffic. SANDAG iCommute employee surveys conducted in Carlsbad revealed more than 850 commuters expressed interest in using transit.     “Carlsbad is a major employment center in San Diego County, and the Coaster provides a convenient transportation option for employees who live outside the area,” said NCTD Board Chair Tony Kranz. “Carlsbad Connector helps to establish an integrated transit system which enables customers to travel easily and efficiently throughout the region and is in line with NCTD’s five-year mobility plan.”     “This pilot service provides an opportunity to test a new transit market, which if successful, helps the city achieve its Climate Action Plan goals while helping businesses recruit and retain skilled talent,” said Christie Marcella, the city of Carlsbad’s economic development manager. “We’re thrilled to partner with SANDAG and NCTD to realize our collective goals for the region and advance lasting change in transportation choices.”     Carlsbad Connector is a $650,000 investment, with the city of Carlsbad contributing $250,000 and NCTD and SANDAG each providing $200,000. Complementing the existing transit service with on-demand services like the Carlsbad Connector will provide travelers with flexible and convenient shared transportation options to help reduce emissions and achieve the more sustainable future envisioned in SANDAG’s Regional Plan, the City of Carlsbad’s Climate Action Plan and the city’s Transportation Demand Management Program.