Palm Springs City Council members could be looking to make major changes to a free service that helps people get around downtown on the weekend.
The city wants to make the Buzz more cost-effective. Even though the Measure D sales tax increase passed in November, the city doesn’t want operating the Buzz to affect the bottom line. Operating the Buzz costs about $900,000 a year, of which, $100,000 is covered by PS Resorts.According to the city about 4,300 people ride the Buzz a week and it costs the city about $4.50 per rider.
“The ultimate goal is to see if it can be self-sustaining through advertisement, sponsorships and we have talked about whether we charge a fare. I don’t know if that is something we would persue, but it is something the council can consider,” said Marcus Fuller, assistant city manager for Palm Springs.
Fuller said there are no current plans to permanently cancel the Buzz service outright, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.The city could look at limiting times the Buzz operates, cutting back on days of operation and or changing the route the Buzz travels. The city could also decide to change the route to make the drive shorter.
Currently, the Buzz runs 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday to Sunday.
Riders KESQ and CBS Local 2 reporter Joe Galli talked to disagree with the city and think Buzz operations should be expanded, not cut back.
“I think they should put it more often because sometimes you have to wait for a while to see one of them to pass by, so I don’t like that,” said Anastacia Iniguez of Palm Springs.
Rachel Collier opened her store La Akua with her husband a month ago. There is a Buzz stop in front of the store.
“I have seen it packed, even just this week. People come into our store wait for the Buzz come pick them up,” Collier said.
Collier said changes could be made that would benefit the city, such as limiting Buzz operations during the summer.
“I think that there is a happy medium that they could meet in city council, because I understand that there is an expense and I did not see it used as much as it should have been,” Collier said.
The city continued the contract with operator of the Buzz, MV Public Transportation, until March. Council members are expected to discuss changes to Buzz in a January city council meeting and during the midyear budget review tentatively scheduled Feb. 7.