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Upgraded Santa Rosa transit mall reopens

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After six months of being based in a makeshift depot outside City Hall, bus traffic returned this week to a Santa Rosa transit mall renovated to create a more open, modern feel.

Plenty of work remains on the $2.8 million project, but enough of the new infrastructure is in place to allow the city, county and regional transit buses to the return to their long-time haven on Second Street between Santa Rosa Avenue and B Street.

The remodeled transit mall has reopened on Second Street in Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

“It’s cleaner and looks more modern,” Angela Holden, 31, said Wednesday as she waited for a county bus to take her to Petaluma.

“These pole things are pretty cool,” she said, gesturing to the new curving light stanchions that arch over the roadway. She described them as “new-agey.”

The slender, tapered light poles are the most visually striking change to the mall. They replace thick blue steel structures that lined the sidewalks and contributed to the confining feel of the area, which is sandwiched between the Roxy movie theater and six-level city parking garage to the south and two hulking AT&T buildings to the north.

In addition to bay and route numbers, each pole is mounted with two bright, energy-efficient LED lamps, one illuminating the street and one the sidewalk.

Also installed are two curved-roof bus shelters, new benches, two new crosswalks, new sidewalks offering easier access for people with disabilities, 10 security cameras, bright steel cladding and a tile mural of a stylized oak tree along the bathroom exterior.

Still to be completed are the bathroom interiors, custom artistic panels creating a barrier between the mall and parking garage, a new information kiosk, permanent signs and multi-agency transit maps, some with real-time arrival and departure information when those systems become operational, said Jason Parrish, project manager.

Eventually, machines dispensing reloadable electronic fare cards, similar to the Clipper Card used on most Bay Area transit systems, will be installed at the kiosk, which won’t be staffed right away because of budget concerns, he said.

Those same concerns led to a reduction in service on some Santa Rosa city routes and most fares increasing by a quarter beginning Feb. 1.

The city had hoped to complete the work by September before the rainy season began, but delays pushed the project back a few months. Most of the other upgrades should be completed by late February, Parrish said.

The design aesthetic for the upgrades was chosen largely because it best complemented the goals of having the transit mall feel more open, bright and user-friendly, Parrish said.

The more comfortable people feel, the more often they’ll ride, which carries with it numerous benefits for the city and environment, he said.

Not everyone was thrilled by the changes. Some riders, chilled by wind and shade that dominate the Second Street location, said they preferred the sunny City Hall lawn. Others said the new bus locations were initially confusing, while others predicted the open-air shelters won’t provide much protection from wind and rain.

Parrish said the shelters have no sides because there wasn’t enough room on the sidewalk for that type of design.

“You’re still going to have the largest umbrella in downtown to stand under, so to speak,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater.





10 Responses to “Upgraded Santa Rosa transit mall reopens”

  1. Caller says:

    Snarky, Juvenile wasn’t talking about any and all municipal transportation systems, just Santa Rosa’s. And bus service starts at 6am, so many employees are in around 5am.

    And I know of several city employees who use CityBus.

    Seems like all you are on here for is to criticize the government when you don’t understand what it’s doing for you.

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  2. Snarky says:

    I propose, AGAIN, since the Press Democrat did not publish my proposal…

    That a “Transit Mall” be constructed right next to the Sonoma County Government complex…. so public employees can show us how they use public transit to go to and from THEIR jobs.

    Government should lead by example… and if they are not willing to do what they chant about … i.e. public transit…. then we should expose them in their refusal to do as they direct everyone else to do.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  3. STOP Occupy Santa Rosa says:

    There are some perfectly kind, clean, normal, and ethical people who use Santa Rosa CityBus. But I think the general public transit population, or rather the people who hang out at the Transit Mall, have the reputation for being dirty, homeless, druggies, criminals, etc. It’s amazing that these folks can spend six months next to City Hall and they caused a small fraction of the police calls, cleaning services, drama, etc. than Occupy Santa Rosa did in just a month. I’d like to commend these thousands of Santa Rosans for not being as awful as the couple dozen Occupy Santa Rosa folks who treated City Hall like a toilet.

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  4. Snarky says:

    Juvenal:

    You pretend as if every single government transit operation is identical and thus fits your defense of public transit workers driving personal vehicles rather than riding the bus.

    Nice try, but no points. :)

    Case in point:

    Not all buses are cleaned at night.

    Not all public transit operations begin at 5:00am

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  5. Juvenal says:

    @Snarky
    Another murky pearl of widsom. Except for management, where you may have a point, drivers report to work at 5 a.m. in order to DRIVE the busses. Cleaning and most maintenance of the busses occurs AT NIGHT, when the busses are not in service, when they are, in fact, sitting in the yard.

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  6. Snarky says:

    Look at ANY public transit corporation yard to witness the public employees all driving to and from that employment in their private cars.

    Yes, everyone from the transit manager to the bus washing crew drive their own cars.

    And they always expect the public to ride their buses.

    Just pointing out the obvious. If you don’t believe, go take a look for yourselves. Drive by ANY transit yard. Those private vehicles parked in there are not fare paying passengers. :)

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  7. Nora Gonzales says:

    The transit mall is not the problem. It is the crazies, the homeless, the goths, the trouble makers who hangout in and around the mall.

    If I owned the Roxy, I would petition the city to permanently relocate the transit mall to somewhere where it would be appreciated. Sebastopol sounds like a likely candidate.

    They need a 24/7 Santa Rosa police presence to maintain law and order in this homeless, helpless hangout.

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  8. The Hammer says:

    They should have spent the monies on fixing the streets and roads.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 5

  9. Oakmont Resident says:

    Well Mockingbird — good comments but it I think it is good to have an upgraded transit mall. However, the Smart Train is completely stupid. We need really top shelf state of the art buses — if you go to other countries it is not just the “poor” riding the buses — everybody does for convenience. Get rid of the Smart Train and the people running it who are getting HUGE salaries… it is a train to nowhere! Put the money into new state of the art buses and also create schedules that are inter-connected so we can get around with ease. I love public transportation when it is good it is a convenient and fun way to travel. Guess growing up in London I was spoiled and did not realize it!!! GET RID OF THE TRAIN!!!

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  10. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Yep, brand new transit mall. That money should have been spent on new, energy efficient buses that don’t break down. That money should have been spent on expanding city bus services INSTEAD OF CUTTING THEM. That money should have been spent on making the buses reliable and accessible for the people who NEED THEM and those that want to commute.

    Who really cares about the people who have no choice in transportation except for the bus-the students, the elderly, the disabled, the poor families? Apparently the city managers with their free parking spaces and nice cars to commute in. THEY DON’T RIDE THE BUS SO THEY DON’T FEEL THE PAIN EVEN THOUGH THEY SAY OTHERWISE.

    Shame on those 5 city managers who made the decision to cut services. I say lay them off and take the $500,000 it costs the city to pay them AND PUT THAT MONEY INTO SERVICES FOR THE PEOPLE THAT NEED THEM.

    Shame on the city council for allowing the cuts. Take some of that SMART MONEY and put it towards beefing up the city bus services SINCE COMMUTERS WHO CAN’T GET DOWNTOWN WON’T BE TAKING THE SMART TRAIN. The city of Santa Rosa has a bunch of poor planners who haven’t a clue about the citizen’s needs.

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