Ryan Jones – County Connection

Summer Youth Pass 2023 – Available now!

Looking for discounts on public transit this summer? The Summer Youth Pass might be your answer! If you live in Contra Costa County, you can ride Tri Delta Transit, WestCAT, or County Connection unlimited for $30 all summer long. Now, that’s a deal. (You can’t even see 3 summer blockbuster movies for that much.)

Summer Youth Pass Details

  • Valid June 1-August 31, 2023
  • Eligible for ages 6-18 years
  • Participants must live, work, or attend school in Contra Costa County. Proof of eligibility may be required.
  • Limited to five (5) passes per household.

See service area maps:

Program Rules:

  • Summer Youth Passes are valid on local and express routes operated by County Connection, Tri Delta Transit, and WestCAT from June 1, 2023 to August 31, 2023. Not valid on Paratransit, Tri MyRide and Transbay services.
  • Actual pass price $60. Advertised $30 price reflects a $30 supplement per pass provided by 511 Contra Costa. Passes receiving the 511 Contra Costa supplement are limited in quantity and available only while supplies last.
  • The 511 Contra Costa supplement is available to youth ages 6-18 who reside, work, or attend school in Contra Costa County only. Proof of eligibility may be required. Limit five (5) passes per household.
  • Summer Youth Passes are non-refundable, non-redeemable and non-transferable. No refunds shall be made for purchased passes. Lost or stolen passes shall not be replaced. No refunds shall be made if one or more participating transit agency provides free fares during validity period.
  • Summer Youth Pass is made available with funding from Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Travel Training For Seniors & Disabled Persons

Concord, CA, April 25, 2023 – County Connection is pleased to announce our newly founded Travel Training Program for seniors and disabled community members living in Central Contra Costa County. A program of Central Contra Costa Transit Authority and in partnership with Independent Living Resources of Solano & Contra Costa Counties (ILR), this free service is intended to teach practical travel skills to those who may be unsure how to navigate public transit on their own.  

Some of the tools participants will learn include understanding how to plan a trip on public transit, safe and secure travel tips, and using technology to locate a bus and pay for fares. There are individual and group trainings available, as well as field trips for anyone wanting to experience riding a County Connection fixed-route bus within a safe, supportive, and accessible learning environment. Skills learned through the trainings are applicable to all public transit.  

“We have been working to develop this program for many years,” expressed Rashida Kamara, Director of ADA & Special Services with County Connection. “Public transit is for everyone and being able to expand our existing ADA services with this program gives people independence and quality of living–just by simply demystifying how to ride a bus.”

Helping to lead the travel trainings is Sarah Birdwell, who is a person with a disability and says, “I’m an advocate for disabled rights and am passionate for giving back to my community.” Birdwell has sat on the board of two different committees in the disability community and uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to encourage others. “Something that may seem as simple as riding a bus is intimidating for many seniors and disabled people…especially with emerging technologies,” said Birdwell. “I’m here to help.”

For those who know someone or are interested in this Travel Training Program themself, participants must reside in Clayton, Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, or Unincorporated Central Contra Costa County. If participants live outside of the service area, many other regional transit agencies also offer similar programs, including WestCATFAST, and MTC

To learn more please visit the ILR website (ilrscc.org) or contact Sarah Birdwell, Travel Training Program Coordinator, at sarahb@ilrscc.org, 925-363-7293 (ext. 114). 

Public Hearing: Route 27 and 99X Service Change

UPDATE ON PUBLIC HEARINGS
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the proposed service changes for Route 27 and 99X during today’s public hearing. We heard a lot of great comments and our Board approved the proposal to consolidate the two routes into a single free route, connecting Martinez Amtrak to North Concord BART. Changes will take effect August 6, 2023. Look for additional notifications posted on buses and our website.

Notice of Public Hearing – Thursday, May 18, 2023, 9:00 am

The Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (County Connection) will hold a public hearing to gather comment on proposed changes to Route 99X and elimination of Route 27, which would be replaced by select trips on Route 99X. The proposal also includes offering free rides on Route 99X. Further information on the proposed changes is provided below.

Service & Fare Change Proposal

Route 99X began operating in August 2018 and is funded by the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) cap and trade grant program. Since its launch, the route has not attracted much ridership and continues to underperform compared to other express routes. Given its low performance, changes are being proposed to increase efficiency and productivity. The proposal also includes consolidation of Route 27, which currently provides limited trips within North Concord. The proposed new alignment and schedule would:

  • Provide a faster and more direct connection between North Concord BART and Martinez Amtrak;
  • Continue serving high usage stops like North Concord BART, Concord Adult Homeless Shelter, Morello/Arnold, Martinez Amtrak, and Mason Circle;
  • Eliminate route segments with little to no ridership on both Routes 27 and 99X, including Pike Ln, the Pacheco Transit Center, Muir Rd, and Arnold Dr;
  • Improve transfer connections with Amtrak; and
  • Preserve existing service levels overall, including hours and frequency

Since the consolidation of Route 27 into Route 99X would result in current riders on Route 27 paying the higher Express route fare when using Clipper, the proposal also includes making Route 99X fare-free.

Staff reports:

How to Comment

Comments can be submitted in writing via mail, email, or online, or at the scheduled public hearing. Written comments must be received by May 10, 2023.

  • Add a comment on this post (bottom of page)
  • Mail your comment in writing to:
    Director of Planning & Marketing
    2477 Arnold Industrial Way
    Concord, CA 94520
  • Email planning@countyconnection.com
  • Speak at the public hearing on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 9:00 am (in person or via teleconference):

It is anticipated that the Board of Directors will take action on the proposed program at their regular meeting scheduled for May 18, 2023, following the public hearing.

Transit Operator Appreciation Day, Fare-Free March 18

Concord, CA – Transit Operator Appreciation Day is Saturday, March 18, 2023, and County Connection, Tri Delta Transit, and WestCAT are offering a day of fare-free rides. No payment will be required on all three agencies’ buses for fixed routes and paratransit. Additionally, Tri Delta Transit’s ride-hailing service, Tri MyRide, will not require any payment for the day either.  

Transit Operator Appreciation Day, sometimes called Transit Driver Appreciation Day, started in 2009 in Seattle as a blog about appreciating bus drivers. By 2014, the name was changed to cover the diverse public transportation available throughout the United States. The day is set aside to thank and appreciate transit drivers for their service for the community.  

Image of bus operator with text 'Transit Operator Appreciation Day'

“The contribution drivers make has never been realized more than over the past three years of the pandemic. Transit operators performed a critical and essential service during this time by continuing to provide public transportation,” said Tri Delta Transit CEO, Rashidi Barnes.  

Transit Operator Appreciation Day continues to be a notable day for those who value public transportation and want to acknowledge those on the front lines operating transit vehicles. In addition to risking possible exposure to COVID-19, transit operators have been asked to adapt to ever-changing regulations and dramatic fluctuations in ridership demand, adapt to new schedules, as well as work to fill open shifts due to national driver shortages.  

“There’ve been a lot of unknowns in the past few years in public transit operations,” acknowledged Bill Churchill, General Manager of County Connection. “We’re so proud that, despite any setbacks, we’ve maintained a high on-time performance rate—a testament to the dedication of our bus operators.”  

Rob Thompson, General Manager of WestCAT, shared a similar sentiment of transit drivers, stating, “Our drivers truly are the front line for our agencies. Their commitment and hard work are invaluable in providing public transit to our communities.”  

The three partnering transit agencies are glad to offer a day of fare-free riding for passengers, hoping to bring attention to this annual day of recognition. “We hope by going fare free, riders can focus on the driver and their rider experience, and vice-versa, instead of focusing on fares,” says Tri Delta Transit Board Chair Anissa Williams. “For Transit [Operator] Driver Appreciation Day, agencies hope everyone takes a moment to thank their transit driver when riding the bus and post positive messages on the social media pages of the system you ride so that the drivers can see them.”  

To learn more about these transit agencies, visit TriDeltaTransit.com, CountyConnection.com and WestCATorg.  

County Connection Operators Approve 3-Yr Offer

Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCCTA) has reached an agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 1605, who voted 54% in favor of extending their contract with an economic package proposed by CCCTA.  

CCCTA’s Board of Directors has a long history of offering comparable packages to all of its labor partners. Upon receiving a request for an offer from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District Lodge No. 190 (IAM) the same offer was made to the other two unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) Local 856 and ATU, Local 1605. The ATU, Local 1605 received the offer on October 27th and members voted on December 20th. In order to expedite the process, the Board held a special meeting on December 21st to ratify the contract, which was set to expire on January 31, 2023. With the needed simple majority member approval, the contract is now extended through January 31, 2026. 

For the agreed upon terms, the ATU was offered the same contract as that of IAM and the Teamsters, with both approving the offer, unanimously, in November 2022. ATU members now have a 3-year extension package and a five percent (5%) raise in year one, which includes a includes a $2,500 tax-free payment up front. In year two, ATU members will receive an increase of four percent (4%), followed by three percent (3%) in the final year.

Chair of the Board, Amy Worth, said of the agreements, “The continued success of CCCTA depends on the stability, mutual understanding, and respect shared between its management and their represented labor partners. Now more than ever, the services offered to Central Contra Costa are crucial to the residents within the County Connection service area.” Worth added, “To have all three unions approve a 3-year contract well ahead of the contracts expiring, is heartening and tells me this public agency is on the right path forward and ensures continued service reliability for our residents.”

CCCTA Reaches Unanimous Union Approval – 3 Year Extension

November 2022 – Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (CCCTA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District Lodge No. 190, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) Local 856 approved extending existing work rules with an economic package proposed by CCCTA. 

Both unions approached the General Manager requesting contract extensions, well in advance of their respective contract term end date, to avoid unnecessary negotiations. Recognizing the long-standing positive working relationships between management and the unions, CCCTA’s Board of Directors approved a package that was unanimously accepted by all members of the IAM and Teamsters Unions.

For the terms, the Machinists and Teamsters agreed upon a 3-year extension package with a 3-month early adoption. Both unions accepted a five percent (5%) raise in year one, which includes a $2,500 tax-free payment up front. In year two, CCCTA offered to increase the wage rate for all Bargaining Unit Employees (represented the IAM and Teamsters) by four percent (4%). And in year three, CCCTA offered to increase the wage rate by three percent (3%). All other articles, sections, attachments, terms and provisions of the most recent Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) will remain in effect for the duration of the agreement. 

Bill Churchill, General Manager of CCCTA, affirmed, “I look forward to the fruitful collaboration with all of our labor partners, in the years to come.” Churchill, who presented the 3-year deal, added, “Together we will continue on the road to recovery and improve our communities.”

Free Rides in October on All Routes

Ride free in October on County Connection. (Image of a cartoon bus flying through the sky.)
  • All County Connection buses and paratransit are free to ride for the entire month of October, no payment required for any passenger. 
  • A month of free rides is made possible by federal stimulus funding and is intended to not only help essential workers save money but encourage commuters to take public transit. 
  • While public transit ridership numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels, County Connection has doubled its passenger count in the past two years. 

Have you heard? County Connection is offering free rides to all who board one of our buses along any route, as well as paratransit. A month of fare-free riding this October is just one of the ways County Connection, and other public transit agencies like WestCAT, hope to encourage more people in Contra Costa County to choose public transportation as a commute option.  

During Fall 2019, average monthly passenger levels were over 300,000 compared to the fall of 2020 when there were fewer than 100,000 monthly passengers, down by 71% from the previous year. By comparison, in August 2022, there’s been some uptick, with roughly 200,000 bus passengers.  

Infographic of monthly passenger averages by year, 2019-2022. Image reflects roughly 300k passengers per month in 2019, 100k in 2020, 150k in 2021, and 200k in 2022.

Although daily routines are returning to what they were before the pandemic, public transit ridership remains low. “County Connection is not the only bus agency that saw a dramatic dip in ridership,” says Bill Churchill, General Manager of County Connection. “Though an industry-wide trend, we are proud to have doubled our passenger count in the past two years.” 

Still, the commuter landscape has changed—maybe forever as more office-based work allows for flexible and on-going work schedules Those who do not have the option to work from home are choosing to drive alone on their commute, leaving many public transit routes with very little ridership.  

Federal funding has been made available for transit agencies to apply toward operational costs as well as a stimulus for increasing ridership. “We plan our routes and frequency of bus service based on our passenger counts,” explained Pranjal Dixit, Manager of Planning, “and travel patterns are still irregular.” In spring 2021, County Connection made a major service change to better match service levels to rider demand, which included shifting resources from peak-hour commute routes in order to preserve essential local service. 

County Connection serves Central Contra Costa County and is especially critical for the essential workforce who may not have any other commute option, as was evident during the height of the pandemic when 20% of passengers never stopped riding. In addition, given recent increases in traffic congestion, gas prices, and climate change impacts, public transit provides a greener, cost-effective alternative to driving alone. Free rides on County Connection will not only help essential workers save money, but hopefully persuade others to get back on transit–perhaps beyond October. 

For more information on County Connection routes serving your area, visit countyconnection.com or call Customer Service at (925) 676-1976.