Two shuttle buses will carry commuters to and from work in Glendale's business district under a pilot program endorsed Tuesday by the Glendale City Council.
Until now, the shuttles, known as the Beeline fleet, have been used to provide free rides in downtown Glendale.
The council ordered staff to seek approval from the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission for the expanded service, which could begin operating this fall. The commission must approve the use of Glendale's portion of Proposition A funds, revenues generated from a half-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for transportation projects.
At their retreat last month, City Council members asked the staff to expedite the shuttle program as a way to relieve downtown traffic jams and parking problems. The two pilot routes will be launched to determine whether residents will leave their cars at home and use such a shuttle.
"The service is directed toward reducing the number of peak-hour vehicle trips by offering commuters a convenient alternative to the automobile," Public Works Director George A. Miller said in a report to the council.
Under the pilot program, one of the Beelines would follow a 16-mile route from Sunland to Glendale's central business district, the city's public works yard and businesses near Colorado Street west of the Golden State Freeway.
The second Beeline would follow a 7.3-mile route to downtown Glendale, beginning at 6th Street and Scott Road in Burbank. It would continue along Glenwood Road, Sonora Avenue, Flower Street, Air Way, San Fernando Road and Doran Street.
Each route will require a Beeline bus to make two morning and two evening trips. However, the service is not expected to detract from existing downtown shuttle runs, which operate most often midday.
City Manager David Ramsay told the council that the annual administration and operating costs of the pilot commuter program will be $88,100.
The proposed fares are $1 for the Sunland route and 50 cents for the Burbank route. The fares are expected to generate $12,900 annually, so the program will operate at a deficit, city officials said.
Initially, the two routes combined are expected to serve 36 commuters.
The county transportation panel may take up to 60 days to approve the program, city officials said. The commission must inform the Southern California Rapid Transit District of Glendale's plan to be certain that it does not conflict with existing RTD bus service.
The RTD recently delayed a plan to expand Glendale's free downtown shuttle service because the district feared that it would lose bus fares. Councilman Jerold Milner said he does not anticipate similar opposition to the commuter shuttle program.
"This is not to be in competition with the RTD at all," he said. "It's meant only as a supplement to the RTD."
If the pilot shuttle program is a success, Glendale officials will consider adding a third route and expanding the service.
A consultant found that 6,000 downtown workers live in Glendale or nearby communities and could ride a shuttle to and from work. The consultant's report said the expanded commuter program would require $619,200 in capital expenditures, including the purchase of 11 vehicles.
Times staff writer Lori Grange also contributed to this story.