IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Sunnyvale, Calif., Looks to Create Ride-Share Program

City Councilmembers in the Silicon Valley city recently voted to seek state and federal funding to cover a portion of the service’s annual cost. Other operational details remain to be resolved, including how far users would be able to travel.

(TNS) — Sunnyvale is planning to roll out a rideshare service that would provide locals with affordable transportation within the city and beyond.

Similar to companies like Uber and Lyft, the service would be run by the city, and would allow residents, employees and visitors to catch a ride to nearby destinations, but at a fraction of the cost of the giant ride-hailing apps.

“Our residents have been asking for it,” said Mayor Larry Klein. “These are high school students who are trying to get home from after-school activities, seniors who are reticent to drive. It can help unhoused residents get county services, and there are a lot of small businesses that set up their own shuttle services for their own employees.”

Similar rideshare programs have already been established in Palo Alto and Milpitas. Mountain View has MVgo’s Mid-Day Mobility Program, which offers reimbursements of up to $15 for Uber, Lyft or taxi rides that start or end in the city between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The most well-known local rideshare service, and the one the city hopes to join, is the Silicon Valley (SV) Hopper.

Initially started as a 2019 pilot program by the city of Cupertino, SV Hopper has expanded its all-electric vehicle services into Santa Clara. Popular destinations include De Anza College and Main Street in Cupertino and the Central Park Library in Santa Clara, according to the app’s webpage.

The program is advertised as being student- and accessibility-friendly. Teenagers from 13 to 17 can use the hopper independently with parental consent and those with disabilities can receive door-to-door service. One-way fares are $3.50 with 50 percent discounts available for seniors, students and those who are low income or disabled.

In Sunnyvale, it’s still being decided exactly how the rideshare program will work and how far users will be able to travel. The City Council recently voted to apply for state and federal funding that would cover some of the cost to operate the services. Depending on how much money they receive, the city would need to cover between about $3 million to roughly $5 million a year to fund the program.

If Sunnyvale wins a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the city would create a citywide shuttle program.

The second option is for Sunnyvale to apply for a state Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program grant that would last five years and require a 50 percent local match. The money would be used to fund Hopper expansion into Sunnyvale and would allow riders to travel anywhere within Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.

The services the program ultimately provide depends on what kind of funding the city receives, Klein said, but the end goal is to create more travel options for residents, and for locals wanting to visit the city. One-way rides that could otherwise cost $10 would run roughly $3.50.

Cupertino resident Jean Bedord, who uses Hopper to go to the library or local festivals, supports the expansion of the service into Sunnyvale. Travel options between only one or two cities are limited, she said.

“Right now, if you want to go to a restaurant in Sunnyvale, or go to a movie in Sunnyvale, you can’t do that,” she said.

Bedord, who is also president of the Cupertino Senior Center Volunteer Advisory Council, said such a service can also help Sunnyvale residents trying to access resources at the senior center. Seniors prefer the Hopper, she said, as it is both affordable and can accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.

” A number of (senior center) members live just across the border into Sunnyvale,” Bedord said. “If you live on the Sunnyvale, side you can’t use the Hopper to get into the center.”

It’s not only seniors that can benefit from the service. Rod Sinks, a Fremont Union High School District trustee and former Cupertino mayor, said students traveling to Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, which is the only public high school in the city, will appreciate having a car service that can get them home from school after VTA service hours.

“You can get to and from school on a VTA , but if you’re participating in extracurriculars that go after service hours, it can be tough,” he said.

The option might also encourage students to continue their higher education at nearby De Anza College in Cupertino and Foothill College’s Sunnyvale center.

“People in Sunnyvale that wanted to attend De Anza College would be able to do that readily,” he said. “We have students in Middle College who take classes at De Anza, or at Foothill Campus in northwest Sunnyvale. Students would benefit from being able to get around to any of those campuses.”

©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.