The BUZZ bus was was loved in Palm Springs by residents and tourists, but it was hurting the city’s wallet. Each ride cost about $4.50, which added up to $900,000 per year. This is one of the reasons why the BUZZ stopped running on June 30, 2018.
Its popularity is making city council re-imagine ways of bringing the service back, but in a more cost effective manner. In tonight’s meeting, the council will get a chance to vote on an agreement with Sunline Transit Agency that could bring the bus back in town by cutting costs down to $350,000 per year.
One of the proponents of the return of the BUZZ is city councilmember Lisa Middleton.
“I think we are very happy to be able to see the Buzz return at a price that is very manageable,” she said.
In order to keep the bus buzzing around Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon, the City of Palm Springs and Sunline Transit Agency have proposed a new schedule.
It would now operate from Thursday to Saturday from noon to 10 pm instead of Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 1 am.
“By having a 10 pm closing, it saves an awful lot of money, it saves overtime we would have to expend, and I don’t think we can bring it in in an affordable cost if we were to continue to operate till 1 am,” she said.
The plan is for the busses to run every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.
“Palm Springs is committed to this for two years, and then this will transition fully to Sunline,” Middleton said. “They will be responsible for all of the costs and all of the operations.”
The Sunline Transit Agency’s board of directors voted unanimously on this agreement last month.
In a statement, Scott Jurgens from Sunline Transit Agency, said the company looks forward to this partnership with the City of Palm Springs.
“It’s a fun way to get around Palm Springs to explore the shops, restaurants and destinations that attract tourists and locals alike.”
Initially the service will continue to be free, but it’s up to Sunline Transit Agency if it stays that way. For these two years, city council has already found resources to bring back the BUZZ.
“Coming this year we have about $330,000 from our BUZZ line item account,” Middleton explained. “We already have that money to cover almost all of the cost for this year and next year it will be an item out of the general fund
“Sunline is going through the process of refurbishing the buses,” Middleton said. “They were in good shape, but they [Sunline Transit Agency] have their own systems for how they operate the buses.”
If this agreement is approved then rides on the BUZZ bus will start running in early December.