ALAMEDA -- The popularity of a free bus service that ferries commuters between Alameda and Oakland via the Posey and Webster tubes has prompted city officials to seek money to continue and expand the program.
Known as the Estuary Crossing Shuttle, the weekday service was launched in August 2011 and travels from the College of Alameda in the city's West End to the Lake Merritt BART station, next to Laney College in Oakland.
Along with serving BART commuters and bicyclists, the shuttle is aimed at helping students more easily attend classes at the two campuses of the Peralta Community College District.
Currently, the shuttle is funded through August 2015. But on Tuesday, the City Council will consider approving a resolution to ask for a $489,000 grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission to keep the service going for an extra year.
The grant would pay for expanding the weekday service by starting it at 6:30 a.m., or 30 minutes earlier, and ending the service 30 minutes after its current 7 p.m., according to Matt Naclerio, the city's public works director. The current midday break from noon to 3:30 p.m. also would be eliminated.
If the city secures the grant, a new shuttle stop would be built at Willie Stargell Avenue and Fifth Street to serve residents of the nearby Bayport neighborhood, as well as Alameda Landing, the mixed housing and retail project where a Target store will open in October.
The grant stems from Measure F, the $10 vehicle registration fee that Alameda County voters approved three years ago. It offers $5 million in grants throughout the county for programs that promote public transportation.
The city is pledging $90,000 in matching funds as part of its application. The 40-foot shuttle is a low-emissions bus powered by natural gas. As a result, the service could reduce the level of air pollutants by 1.5 tons a year, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Currently, the shuttle runs every 30 minutes from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Along with the College of Alameda, it stops at Wind River and at Marina Village before traveling on to the Lake Merritt BART station.
The service was initially funded with a one-year, $193,000 grant from the air quality district and with a 10 percent matching grant from the City of Alameda.
Among those who helped secure the money was the community group Bike Alameda, which found that in 2006 some 86 individuals went through the Posey Tube by bike or on foot on a typical day. About four times that number cross the Park Street Bridge by riding their bikes or walking. The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.