By MIKE McCOY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
About 1.5 million bus riders will be catching the bus near Santa Rosa City Hall starting in July as the current Transit Mall located just a block away undergoes a $2 million renovation.
“We will make it as seamless as possible,” Transit Department spokesman Jason Parrish said Tuesday.
His comment came after the City Council agreed to use First Street on the north side of City Hall as the temporary replacement for passenger pick-ups and drop-offs.
Parrish said the four-month renovation of the mall, sandwiched between the Roxy Theater and former AT&T building, should begin in July. It will be financed with regional, state and federal grants.
Plans are to renovate the mall’s sidewalks to make them compliant with the American With Disabilities Act, add new protective overhangs and benches for passengers and add more security and lighting. They will be the first major improvements since the mall became operational in 1988.
The transit mall handles about 5 million passengers a year and is among the busiest in the Bay Area.
Transit Director Bob Dunlavey said 500 buses from three systems — CityBuses, Sonoma County Transit and Golden Gate Transit — pass through the transfer station carrying an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 passengers daily, or about 400,000 a month.
The transit department had recommended earlier this month that the council close down a one-block, four-lane section of Sonoma Avenue on the south side of City Hall to house the temporary transfer station.
Council members rejected the idea because of the nearly 10,000 motorists who drive the road daily and because the buses would be parked alongside one of the city’s major tourist attractions, Luther Burbank’s Home and Gardens.
The First Street section is traveled mostly by city employees turning into the City Hall parking lot and visitors to the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce located on the north side of First Street.