The bus pass incentive program for Second Street employees has hit a brick wall, as became apparent at the Belmont Shore Business Association meeting Tuesday.
The idea was to offer subsidized bus passes to employees who work on Second Street in hopes of freeing up spaces for patrons of the 300 businesses in the area.
The proposal called for the City to pay Long Beach Transit up to $15,000 per month to supply employees with bus passes to and from work, valued at 50 cents per ride, as long as they sign up in advance.
Encouraging public transportation would ideally kill two birds: it would alleviate parking congestion and save gas money for employees. It is an idea that has been in the works for years, and is modeled after bus pass programs like the one Cal State Long Beach uses: the school includes bus pass fare in tuition.
In a small informal survey of employees at Buffalo Exchange on Second Street, those who reported they drove to work said they might use the bus pass, those who rode their bikes said they definitely would and those who walked said they probably would not.
This program was tentatively scheduled to run on a three month trial basis, operating through funds from the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Advisory Commission, Long Beach Transit and BSBA.
However, in reviewing the program, Assistant City Attorney Heather Mahood has concluded that the subsidized bus pass program does not fall into a category of appropriate usage for parking funds.
None of the three sources of funds that the Parking Advisory Commission has authority over include incentive programs such as this one, which was the idea of the resident member of the Commission. The parking meter fund is one of the three and designates revenue to be used mainly on improvement, construction or maintenance of parking lots and related structures.
Jim Fisk, Development Project Manager of the Department of Public Works, said, "We thought it was a great idea! But it just can't be funded. The Parking Commission can fund 'things' but not 'programs.'"
The rest of the funding would have to come from another source, or the City general fund, and neither is feasible, according to Fisk.
Though the BSBA meeting was supposed to discuss plans for long-term funding, since the initial pilot program has hit a standstill, the item was removed from the agenda.
For an explainer on the Parking Commission and its budget, click here: http://patch.com/A-dmtQ