SOUTH COUNTY — New routing options that would speed up bus service between Salinas and South County are being considered by Monterey-Salinas Transit.
The public transportation agency is currently seeking feedback from the community on possible routing changes to Line 23, which travels from Salinas to King City and back, with stops along the way in Chualar, Gonzales, Soledad and Greenfield.
According to Lisa Rheinheimer, director of planning and marketing for Monterey-Salinas Transit, about 18,000 riders currently use Line 23 in an average month.
A trip from King City to Hartnell College in Salinas, for example, can take up to two-and-a-half hours on the current 69-mile route. The new routes would cut that travel time almost in half.
“The reasoning behind the survey is that a trip between King City and Salinas can take up to 2.5 hours, which is an impediment to attracting and keeping riders when a car trip takes significantly less,” Rheinheimer said. “We are trying to see if the riders and community would like to see changes, which may shorten that trip duration.”
Two options are under consideration in the “Salinas Valley Express Bus Study.” The first option would keep Line 23 similar to the current service route; a local bus with more stops and longer travel time, with the bus arriving every 60 minutes. The second option would change Line 23 to an express route with fewer stops and shorter travel time, with the bus arriving every 45 minutes.
In King City, the first option includes bus stops at six locations — Canal and Bassett, Broadway and Russ, Broadway and Third, Third and Collins, Third and King, and San Antonio and Metz. The second option reduces the number of stops to just one location, Canal and Bassett, for riders to be picked up or dropped off.
The express route in Greenfield would eliminate the bus stop at El Camino Real and Tyler but keep the other three locations on El Camino Real at Walnut, Oak and Elm streets. Soledad would lose the stops at Front and San Vicente and Monterey and East, while keeping the Soledad and Mission Center location and adding the bus stop at Front and Main streets.
In Gonzales, the express route would include only one stop along Fifth Street at the Shopping Center, eliminating the current locations at Alta Minor and Fourth, Fifth and Day, and Fifth and Gabilan. Chualar would remain unchanged, with one bus stop at Grant and South streets.
Seven bus stops in Salinas — three along East Alisal Street at Monterey, Soledad and Front and four along Abbott Street at John, Los Palos, Blanco and Harkins — would be eliminated as part of the express route, with only two stops remaining, Hartnell College and the Salinas Transit Center.
Residents can fill out a two-minute survey online at mstcommunitysurvey.com, answering questions about their riding habits and preferences between the two options. The survey closes Feb. 28.
“After the survey closes, we will use the information and include it in a Salinas Valley Express Transit Corridor Study we are conducting,” Rheinheimer said.
A draft of the Salinas Valley Express Transit Corridor Study will be up for review in March for the Monterey-Salinas Transit Board of Directors, with the final study being presented in May.