It’s now easier for Turlock residents to catch a passenger train as a new shuttle bus program was launched this month.
The Turlock City Council has approved a grant to fund a new pilot project that will provide shuttles to and from the Turlock-Denair Amtrak station. The grant is provided through Measure L, which is a transportation tax that goes towards local transit and public works projects.
“It had been something that we were talking about for quite a while,” said Turlock Transit analyst Rich Green. “We’ve been in contact with the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission since last year. They were really interested in helping to support increased connectivity to the rail.”
Green explained that since the Amtrak station is outside of Turlock city limits, the Turlock Transit team and the rail commission wanted to give residents more access to that form of public transit.
“In the current transit plan, it was talked about quite a bit of needing additional service out there that is easy for the public to use,” Green continued.
While the grant was approved by the Stanislaus Council of Government and was accepted last week by the City of Turlock, Green and his team have been testing the shuttle service since January.
“This is a general public shuttle that allows folks to schedule a trip up to an hour in advance,” Green said. “It will take them from anywhere in Turlock to the Amtrak station and then we have one of the buses that will be at the train station to pick people up when the train rolls in.”
Green stressed that the shuttles are shared services and that they will only be able to take passengers directly home and directly to the Amtrak station. He added that passengers are not required to schedule roundtrip shuttle services, they can only be one-way if needed. The price for each one-way trip on the shuttle is $2.50. It is also required that passengers schedule a shuttle at least an hour in advance.
“The key thing is that you need to make a reservation at least an hour in advance. You don't want to get there right when your train shows up, so give us plenty of time… a general recommendation to anybody interested, be sure to check the schedule,” Green said.
The service will be available during regular Turlock Transit service hours, which are Mondays through Fridays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., excluding holidays.
The Measure L grant that is funding the program will last 27 months. The transit team is expecting to promote the shuttle services heavily in the upcoming months, and Green hopes that this can lead Turlock residents to use the services more often so that they can analyze the effectiveness of the program by the time the grant runs out.
“We want to start the service, get the word about it out there, and make it accessible for people,” Green said. “Come test it out, see how see how it works, and we’ll study it. We're going to figure out what works and what doesn't work, [figure out] how we sustain this, how do we keep it going, and what’s the best way to do this long term.”
More information about the new Denair-Turlock Amtrak shuttle services can be found at www.turlocktransit.com/amtrak.