A new, electric bus route from Redding to Sacramento was awarded state grant funding and is moving forward, although the details of the service are still being ironed out.
The Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA) in Redding was awarded an $8.6 million grant from the state for the proposed North State Express Intercity Bus, which would run from Redding to Sacramento along Interstate 5. The grant will also fund the North State Feeder Route, which will be used to connect some of the smaller communities in Glenn, Tehama, Colusa, and Butte counties, SRTA Senior Transportation Planner Jennifer Pollum said. The agency requested more than $16.7 million on their grant application, which included three other feeder routes that were not ultimately funded, including the Lake Feeder, which would have tied Lake and Mendocino counties into the backbone at a stop in Williams.
The $8.6 million grant award covers the purchase of electric buses, establishing the route and schedule for the express I-5 backbone service, as well as figuring out the plan for the North State Feeder Route.
The express route would include two rural stops on Interstate 5, though the final locations of those stops has yet to be determined. In their grant proposal, the company looked at Redding, Red Bluff, Orland, Williams, and Sacramento as locations for stops on the backbone route. Pollum added that there could still potentially be a backbone stop in Williams, but added that the agency was “rethinking their strategy” after not getting the funding for the Lake Feeder.
“Without the Lake County connection on Highway 20, that’s a new thing and we’re working on it,” Pollum said. “If Williams has an interest, we’re willing to work with any partners. We need partners in this.”
Pollum said that the I-5 connection in Orland is a high priority, because of the connection Glenn Ride provides to Chico State and Butte College, and Butte County as a whole.
As for the North Valley Feeder, which also included a stop in Williams on the grant application, the agency is currently looking at Corning, Orland, Willows and Chico as locations for stops.
“Nothing is set in stone,” said Pollum. “We’re going through a business plan … which we hope to have out by late May or early June. It’s not that different that what was in the (grant application) report.
“… We’re working with local transit agencies … to address basically what we’ve been awarded, and what best meets the needs, and will provide high ridership.”
Williams City Administrator Frank Kennedy said that he had recently had discussions with Pollum, and was pushing hard to have the I-5 backbone stop stay in town.
“They don’t know exactly how it’s going to shake out yet,” Kennedy said. “I was aggressively pushing to have her stay with the Williams stop, but we’ll have to see what happens. I’m cautiously optimistic. One of the things we were looking to do was put a permanent bus stop here, but that’s probably not going to occur because of the lack of funding. She was happy to hear there was so much interest from us. The priority is to have the I-5 backbone route to stop here. We’re going to fight to do everything we can to keep that I-5 backbone stop in Williams.” ■