Secretary LaHood celebrates new Bus Rapid Transit Service in Monterey

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week attended the grand opening of the first completed high-tech bus shelter on the new Monterey-Salinas Transit JAZZ Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line. The new BRT service, funded in part by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will cut commuting times roughly in half for riders on existing bus service and improve transit connections for thousands of active-duty military, hospitality workers, and tourists traveling to Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other attractions. The Secretary was joined at the event by Congressman Sam Farr, Sand City Mayor David Pendergrass, and local officials.

“This new bus rapid transit line will give residents and tourists a safer, more efficient option for getting to work, to school, or wherever they need to go,” said LaHood. “And it is fitting that we are celebrating its start as we honor our nation’s heroes, with so many area military families who can take advantage of the new line. Providing our military and veterans with safe, reliable transportation options is the least we can do to thank them for their service.”

The JAZZ BRT system serves a 6.75-mile route between Sand City Station and the aquarium and travels through Seaside, where many transit-dependent hospitality workers reside. Monterey County is also home to roughly 16,000 active-duty and civilian military personnel, including those stationed at Monterey’s U.S. Coast Guard station. Military ridership on Monterey-Salinas Transit’s non-BRT bus service grew by more than 300 percent between 2010 and 2012. Additional BRT stops will open near area military facilities as well as other local employment centers and area attractions.

“The Monterey JAZZ line is a great example of BRT done right and an effective way to reduce commuting times for thousands who live and work in Monterey, Seaside, and Sand City,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Traffic signals will be timed to help BRT vehicles and drivers alike to reach work or home faster, which improves the quality of life for everyone who would prefer to spend less time in traffic.”

FTA has committed $2.77 million to the $5 million project through its Small Starts capital program. The remainder is from California state and local funds. The JAZZ line began operating on September 1, serving temporary stations. In partnership with the Monterey Jazz Festival, the new Sand City Station and 24 new bus shelters along the route will allow waiting passengers to download jazz concert recordings from past festival performances.