The city of Carlsbad has launched a new rideshare-like program that will help connect Coaster passengers to their final destinations via shuttle.
The Carlsbad Connector will utilize to transport people from the Carlsbad Poinsettia Station Coaster Station at 6511 Avenida Encinas to their workplaces in the Palomar Airport area on 12-passenger shuttle vans.
Riders will be able to use an on-demand app to book a ride during prime commuting hours -- between 7 and 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. -- and during lunch hours from noon to 3 p.m.
The program aims to improve convenience and timeliness for working commuters; Shuttles will drop employees off within a five-minute walk from their workplace, according to the city.
Kirk Leopoldo was one of the first people to use the app when it launched on Monday. He uses the Coaster a few times a week from his home in San Diego but, once in Carlsbad, struggled to get the last mile to his job at WalMart Labs.
Before the app, he would walk for 25 minutes from the Carlsbad Poinsettia Station or book a rideshare for a few dollars each way.
"It connects me from home to work pretty seamlessly with the app and just not having to worry about getting a Lyft, an Uber or walking," he said.
As a recruiter, Leopoldo said a question many candidates have is about the commute. He feels Carlsbad Connector is something new he can promote to prospective employees.
"Talking to candidates about their commute, if they do live near downtown or in that area, you know, they really would prefer not to drive to Carlsbad and the commute's just not attractive," he said. "So when they have something like this I can talk about, it makes a lot of sense for them."
The ride is free for those with a daily or monthly Coaster pass. Those without can purchase a one-way ride on the shuttle for $2.50. There is also an option for businesses to partner with the Carlsbad Connector program to cover the cost for their employees.
The app developed by RideCo and operated by WeDriveU is available on both Android and iPhone and those that without a smartphone can call (760)407-6080 to book a ride.
According to the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, the idea for the app came after they heard from businesses in their city that it was difficult to retain or recruit employees that wanted to live downtown. Existing commuters often said they found the existing transit system insufficient.
The program, in partnership with the North County Transit District and the San Diego Association of Governments, is part of the city of Carlsbad's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 by reducing the number of solo drivers.
The city contributed $250,000 to the project and NCTD and SANDAG contributed $200,000 each. The program is in its testing phase for one year but the plan is to make the Carlsbad Connector a permanent transportation option in the city.