NORWALK — The City Council has extended for another six months a free shuttle program for commuters between the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Depot on Imperial Highway and the city’s three-level, 1,100-space parking structure behind City Hall, about a mile to the west at 12700 Norwalk Blvd.
The extension, from Dec. 1, to June 30, 2020 will mitigate parking shortages during the implementation phase of additional Metrolink Station parking and Microtransit services,” said James C. Parker, executive director of regional transportation, in a report to the City Council Nov. 5.
He was referring to an additional parking area on the east side of the depot now under construction south of Imperial Highway.
“The auxiliary parking lot is expected to be completed in late February 2020, which will include approximately 122 additional commuter parking spaces,” Parker’s report said. “These extra spaces will also assist to alleviate the burgeoning parking issues and may partially reduce the need for off-site shuttle parking service.
According to Parker, the Metrolink Station Park and Ride lots consist of 239 parking spaces in the city of Norwalk (west side) and 343 parking spaces in the city of Santa Fe Springs (east side) and continues to be at maximum capacity.
“Currently, there is a waiting list of 611 applicants seeking monthly daytime parking permits and 102 applicants seeking monthly overnight parking permits,” Parker added. “Customers continue to complain about insufficient parking spaces and having to purchase daily permits.
“Forty-eight Metrolink Commuters (22 Norwalk residents and 26 non-residents) who were on the waiting list have purchased monthly permits to park at the Civic Center Parking Structure and utilize the Pilot Shuttle to interface with arriving/departing Metrolink rail service,” Parker said.
The Nov. 5 action extended the contract with MV Transportation, originally hired for the shuttle serve last May.
The vote was 4-1 with Councilman Leonard Shryock dissenting. He said he was concerned about using the auxiliary lot, leased from the city of Santa Fe Springs, which could be toxic as it formerly was an oil drilling site.
The shuttle operates Monday through Friday, between the hours of 4:30 and 10:30 a.m. and from 2 to 7:45 p.m., Parker said.
The shuttle is not in service New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day after and Christmas.
Although the shuttle ride is free, cost for a permit on the third level of the city parking structure is $15 a month for residents and $30 a month for non-residents. It’s the same price charged for a parking space at the depot, Parker said.
“The Norwalk Transit System has undertaken a planning effort to develop and implement on-demand Microtransit service, which would serve the Metrolink station,” Parker said. “This service seeks to provide Metrolink commuters with an experience that integrates bus/rail/Microtransit on-demand trip planning and trip payment into a single app/interface.
“This would allow commuters to address their transportation needs for short-trip connectivity (i.e. employment centers, medical centers, government agencies, etc.) to and from the Norwalk-Santa Fe Springs Metrolink station during peak periods without the need for use of their private vehicle,” Parker added.
“Funding for the shuttle service will be supported with Proposition C Local Return funds. Therefore, the revised appropriation of Proposition C funds for fiscal year 2019-20 is $368,495. The cost of the service will be fractionally offset by parking revenues generated between December and June estimated at $8,190, from the Civic Center’s third level parking structure.
By Arnold Adler