City Council decided Monday that city coffers could offer no assistance to save shuttle.
Funding for DASH, the downtown area shuttle which runs regular routes on Tejon Street between Colorado College and the Park and Ride at Interstate 25 and Tejon Street, began to dry up last year and proponents from the Downtown Partnership looked for a number of ways to save it, but a feasible plan could not be found.
The most recent idea, proposed by city parking administrator Greg Warnke, was to extend downtown parking meter fee hours to include weekday and weekend nights to raise money to save the shuttle service.
But, downtown merchants opposed that idea, saying extended meter fees would amount to a further deterrent to shoppers coming downtown, said Downtown Partnership Executive Director Ron Butlin.
As it became apparent that that idea would fail, Butlin said it would be up to City Council to find funding for the service
“We pitched to the council that the DASH was important, but they just couldn’t justify spending money on it at this time,” Butlin said. “I completely understand. City Council has some tough decisions to make these days. Is paying for watering a park more important that paying for the DASH? It’s hard to prioritize these things.”
Now, Butlin is faced with the task of trying to lease the five DASH buses that are not yet paid for.
The free downtown shuttle was instituted about five years ago as an idea to whisk shoppers up and down Tejon from shop to shop.
But critics of the service said it simply became a shuttle for the city’s homeless.
Butlin said the buses were used used by everybody
“It has a diverse ridership,” he said. “It has the highest per body ridership of the city’s bus system. It had 220,000 riders in 2008. But, as of today, there’s no commitment from council to bring it back.”