News – County Connection

News Archive

COVID-19 Information Center

County Connection has been closely monitoring the changes surrounding the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. The health and safety of County Connection employees, passengers, and the communities we serve remains a top priority and the Authority is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all.

On March 16, 2020, a Stay at Home Order was issued in Contra Costa County, along with six (6) other Bay Area counties. County Connection, alongside other public transit providers across the nation, remained an essential service through this time. As such, County Connection has implemented processes, procedures, and mitigation efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These steps were taken following guidance from agencies such the Contra Costa County Department of Health Services (CCHS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Regional Collaboration

From a regional perspective, transportation agencies across the Bay Area have also recognized the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, County Connection began working in partnership with other transportation agencies to develop policies, procedures, and other mitigation efforts that included enhanced communication efforts, vehicle modifications, improved sanitation efforts, and modified work schedules. Each of these efforts were done to promote the safety and well-being of employees, passengers, and the communities we serve.

The collaboration of the Bay Area’s twenty-seven (27) operators has led to the development of the Riding Together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan. This plan provides a unified and comprehensive framework of health and safety commitments, mitigation standards, communication efforts, and responsibilities for transit providers, employees, and passengers across all systems. The Healthy Transit Plan uses guidance from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the World Health Organization (WHO). This plan was also developed in partnership with regional leaders, transit employees, paratransit providers, rider advocates, and public health experts to ensure a safe transportation network in the Bay Area.

A key component of the Healthy Transit Plan is the assessment of plan effectiveness through monitoring and data collection. A metrics dashboard is currently in development by all transportation agencies, which will report the progress of each individual transit operator on the common commitments. Dashboard data will be updated monthly and be publicly accessible. The plan is designed to provide a flexible approach that responds appropriately as new information is gained and as changes surrounding COVID-19 occur.

The Riding Together: Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan and metrics dashboard can be found at www.healthytransitplan.com

APTA Health & Safety Commitments Program

County Connection has joined the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) “Health and Safety Commitments Program,” the public transportation industry’s overarching pledge to passengers that public transit systems are taking all the necessary measures to operate safely as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Program was developed after asking transit users from across the country what measures would make them feel more confident riding public transportation amid concerns about COVID-19. From this research, the industry identified four key areas that transit systems need to address to earn riders’ confidence:

  • Following public health guidelines from official sources
  • Cleaning and disinfecting transit vehicles frequently and requiring face coverings and other protections
  • Keeping passengers informed and empowered to choose the safest times and routes to ride
  • Putting health first by requiring riders and employees to avoid public transit if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel ill

To learn more, visit apta.com/commitments.


GRATEFUL FOR COUNTY CONNECTION HEROES

Looking Back at 18 Months of Pandemic Public Transit

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit us with a solid one-two punch in March of 2020, public transit had no idea what was about to happen. Eighteen months later we are still regularly responding to new things for the first time. But, what we have been able to do and what we have learned along the way is nothing short of extraordinary.

How It Began

On the first Monday morning of original Lockdown, senior County Connection staff met via a phone call with top Contra Costa Health and Emergency Services staff. We were informed that the County and the Governor had proclaimed public transit an Essential Service. We were debriefed about how the pandemic was expected to play out, what full Lockdown really meant, and more important to us, what was expected of us by the County. It was during this call that I had my first moment of realization of just how profound this virus was going to be and how little was known about it, other than it was hyper contagious and unacceptably lethal. I may have gone into a bit of shock at that moment. Among the things we were told was that that the worst of the pandemic was going to last over the next six to eight weeks and that if we didn’t all pull together, maybe 2 million people or more in this country alone might die. That call took place over 18 months ago.

During that call we were asked to do many things with our transportation resources that we had never done before. My natural inclination was to push back a bit. After all, public transit is not well known for turning on dime and it would be at least a few days before I would realize just how large of an emergency this pandemic really was. The County health and emergency response leadership firmly, but calmly, said this was not a choice for us and offered their complete support as we set out to do what was required of us. This was the start of a partnership that has become one of the most rewarding I have experienced over my long tenure at County Connection. Since that day, we have only built upon it as we have navigated the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic.  While there are too many folks to thank in this posting, I must mention that former Deputy Health Director Rohan Radhakrishna, Senior Emergency Planning Coordinator Meredith Gerhardt, and Transportation Planner John Cunningham were incredibly helpful to County Connection as we fulfilled many unexpected and crucial transportation roles during the hardest days of the pandemic.

Mitigation Protocols

By late April of 2020, all of our fixed route buses had plexiglass driver shields installed, were being fogged daily – sometimes twice a day, and had new MERV 13 filters installed. Smoke tests at this point demonstrated that our buses were completely recirculating the air inside the cabin every two minutes. The driver shields were installed over a couple of weekends. We “manufactured” them at the bus yard using materials from Tap Plastics. This was an idea that came from our Facilities Superintendent, Steve Muhlestein. The shields and the new air filtration systems will outlive the pandemic and will become permanent features of our bus fleet.

An Essential Service

So how did we respond to the pandemic crisis? First, we kept as much of our fixed route service going as we could, given that at one point, over half of our bus operator ranks went out either because of a need to be extra cautious with COVID-19 or because they actually had it. As last summer moved forward, we gradually returned to about 85% of our budgeted bus operator positions being actively covered. During our significant bus operator shortfall, our planning department devised a hierarchy of service, primarily driven by serving essential workers making essential trips. As we lost workers, who had to stay at home for various COVID-19 reasons, we reduced services accordingly by cutting services determined by the hierarchy. This ensured that we did the best job possible, given the circumstances, in providing essential services to essential workers. What this approach meant was service schedules were changing every day. We used our web page and social media to keep our customers informed as to what was happening. I cannot thank our bus operator’s union enough for the tremendous flexibility and cooperation they gave us in executing this very fluid way of scheduling buses.

Secondly, we completely repurposed our paratransit services. At the onset of the pandemic, 90% or more of our daily paratransit demand disappeared practically overnight as most of that ridership demographic fell into the extremely vulnerable categories relative to COVID-19 risks. This resulted in a great unused resource for the County to call upon. Between mid-March of 2020 through this summer, County Connection completely reworked our paratransit services. Related directly to COVID-19 needs, our paratransit program did the following:

  • transported homeless away from crowded and unsafe outdoor living spaces to various hotel rooms across the county,
  • transported COVID-19 positive homeless or folks living in congregate living places to medical sites and hospitals for treatment,
  • transported frail seniors to vaccination sites, and
  • transported seniors to grocery stores at prescribed times for senior only shopping.

In addition, with many seniors or people of need sheltering at home for much of last year and early this year, County Connection began to deliver things to people. In many cases these services replaced the work of senior volunteers that likewise had to Shelter-in-Place. Among the things we provided were:

  • County Meals on Wheels,
  • School lunch deliveries to students in need who were attending school via online instruction,
  • Contra Costa Food Bank deliveries to low income families, and
  • Delivery of basic supplies to home-bound seniors.

Innovation & New Training

These temporary programs flipped the traditional approach of transporting people to places to one of taking things to people in a manner that kept them safe from COVID-19. In order to transport the COVID-19 positive individuals from congregate living sites or homeless camps, the paratransit drivers had to agree to do these trips and received special training from the County. Our paratransit is provided via contract by Transdev North America (Transdev). Transdev employees also received training from the County on how to separate a sub fleet of vehicles dedicated to these COVID-19 exposure trips, as well as how to clean and disinfect these vehicles after each trip. Without the great dedication and cooperation from Transdev and its employees, we could never have done these special paratransit services on behalf of the County.

Another innovative paratransit program emerged during the pandemic. This is the “One-Seat Ride” pilot project. This project involves four East Bay suburban transit systems: County Connection, Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), Tri-Delta Transit, and WestCAT. The pilot is testing the benefits and feasibility of providing paratransit customers with a single seat ride from origin to destination within the combined service areas of the four transit systems, regardless of which system a trip originates with, effectively reducing touch points for not only the passenger, but for operators too. Prior to this pilot, riders would have to transfer among vehicles at points near each transit operator’s borders. While tackling this pilot project had been in discussion for a few years, the onset of the pandemic created conditions to get the pilot implemented quickly and with urgency. A number of bureaucratic items seemed to fall by the wayside within the context of the emergency of the pandemic.

Almost all the things we have done during the pandemic that are listed above would have been very difficult to do in so-called “ordinary times.” This is in great part due to how we define public transit from a federal and/or state rule and regulations perspective. We are grateful to our federal and state partners who quickly waived or temporarily changed many rules and regulations that would have ordinarily prevented us from doing many of these things.

What Have We Learned?

We have learned that public transit is an essential service. It is a service that essential workers use to get to and from essential jobs that serve us all. We have learned that we are all “Transit Dependent!”

We have learned that women and men that operate transit vehicles and maintain transit vehicles are essential workers who are dedicated to their craft and often do their work at a rate of pay that was less than they might have received on unemployment throughout the Lockdown period.

We have learned that when public transit operators are allowed by the regulators to do so, they can be nimble, innovative, responsive, and most importantly….crucially integral to any response during a mega public emergency crisis, such as the one presented by COVID-19.

We have learned that if we enable our public transit operators to do so, they can be invaluable providers of all sorts of services to the public.

Overall, we have learned that great public transit is truly a huge benefit to any thriving community. So while it has been an incredibly tough 18 months for everyone, I think I can speak for the entire public transit community when I say it has been a difficult and challenging time, yet rewarding. I am immensely proud of all that County Connection has accomplished and of all the people that contributed by stepping up when it was most needed.

County Connection’s Ramacier Stepping Down By Year’s End

Assistant General Manager of Administration Bill Churchill to become new GM

County Connection General Manager Rick Ramacier has announced his intent to step down by the end of December following 32 years with the agency, 24 of which he served as GM. Bill Churchill, identified early on as a strong leader for the agency, will be promoted to GM upon Ramacier’s retirement as part of the agency’s succession planning and leadership training. Churchill is currently serving as Assistant GM of Administration and has more than 23 years with County Connection.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank Rick for his years of outstanding service and significant contributions,” said Keith L. Haydon, Jr., City of Clayton and County Connection Board Chair. “His unwavering dedication to County Connection, along with his ability to build a
strong leadership team, will leave County Connection resilient and well positioned for the future.”

“I have been honored to lead County Connection and proud to be a part of the many ways in which our services improve people’s lives, and most recently positively impacting more than 2,200 essential service riders every day,” said Rick Ramacier, County Connection General Manager. “Having worked closely with Bill for many years, I am highly confident that under his leadership, the team at County Connection will continue to innovate and provide a variety of mobility choices for our customers. His appointment demonstrates the strength of our succession planning and talent pipeline, and I look forward to working with him during the
transition.”

Ramacier will remain as GM until his departure date in December.

Fall Fare Promotions

County Connection looks forward to welcoming back more passengers this Fall. Additional service restoration will be effective on August 8th, with all school service available for the new school year. Our buses are operating at full capacity and masks continue to be required.

We encourage all of our passengers to learn about our various discounted Clipper programs, including our day pass, youth fare, and Clipper START for low income adults. We are also offering fare promotions this Fall, including free rides for ALL in September 2021 and free passes for students. Learn more about these programs below.

We want your feedback! Take our survey here!

Free Rides in September

Ride FREE on any route

Everyone rides free on all County Connection routes and LINK paratransit during the entire month of September!

Just hop on any County Connection bus and get where you need to go. Plus, you can also ride free on our fellow East Bay operators (Tri Delta Transit, WestCAT, & Wheels), and get 50% off BART fares when using Clipper in September. We look forward to welcoming you back on transit!

Tip: If you typically use a 31-day pass on Clipper, consider disabling Autoload and avoid activating any new passes during the month of August. We are not be able to issue refunds for partially used passes.

Pass2Class

Take County Connection to school FREE

Skip the traffic and save gas while getting your students to school. With 511 Contra Costa’s Pass2Class program, it’s easy to make the switch. To help students return to in-person learning, we’re giving free rides for two months.

Students who are registered in a public or private school (grades 1-12) located in Central or Southwest Contra Costa can receive a County Connection pass that is valid through October (up to 2 per household and while supplies last).

Youth Clipper Discount

Youth (ages 6-18) get 20% off when using a Youth Clipper card

Youth ages 6-18 automatically get 20% off the adult Clipper fare when using a Youth Clipper card on County Connection.

Riders can apply for a Youth Clipper card by submitting an application via mail, email, or fax along with proof-of-age documentation. Once approved, a card will be sent by mail. To obtain a card immediately, call us at (925) 676-7500 to arrange an in-person visit.

Tip: Now you can transfer your existing plastic Youth Clipper card to your phone and pay fares with your mobile wallet! Click here to learn more about paying your fares with a smartphone. Please note that you must apply for and obtain a plastic Youth Clipper card first before transferring it to your phone.

Clipper START Discount

Eligible riders can get discounts on County Connection, BART, & more

Clipper START is a pilot program to provide fare discounts to eligible riders. Participants can receive a 20% discount off County Connection single-ride Clipper fares, plus discounts on BART, Tri Delta Transit, WestCAT, Wheels, and more!

To qualify, you must:

  • Be a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area  
  • Be 19-64 years old  
  • Not have an RTC Clipper Card for people with disabilities   
  • Have a household income of 200% of the federal poverty level or less

2021/2022 School Schedules

Due to COVID-19, 600-series school route schedules are subject to change. Check this page regularly for updates.

Please note that face masks are required while on the bus.

Fall Fare Promotions: Students can take advantage of several fare promotions and discounts! Click here to learn more.

Last updated: 7/26/2021

Find schedules for our 600 series school routes for the 2021/2022 school year below. Note that schedule times on routes may have been adjusted due to bell time changes or to improve on-time performance.

Lamorinda School Districts

Acalanes Union High School District

Route 603: Lafayette BART – Saint Mary’s College – Campolindo High

Route 606: Orinda BART – Miramonte High  –  Orinda Intermediate  –  Lafayette BART

Route 625: Lafayette BART – Happy Valley Rd – Acalanes High

Lafayette School District

Route 626: Lafayette BART – Stanley Middle School – Saint Mary’s College

Orinda Union School District

Route 606: Orinda BART – Miramonte High  –  Orinda Intermediate  –  Lafayette BART

Mt. Diablo School District

By route:

Route 608: VA Clinic – College Park High – Valley View Middle – DVC

Route 611: Concord BART – Oak Grove Rd – Oak Grove Middle

Route 612: Concord BART – Clayton Rd – Pine Hollow Middle

Route 613: Oak Grove Middle – Oak Grove Rd – Detroit Ave – Concord BART

Route 615: Concord High – Olympic High – El Dorado Middle – Concord BART

Route 616: Concord BART – Monument Blvd – Oak Grove Rd – Oak Grove Middle

Route 619: Oak Grove Middle – Pleasant Hill BART

By school:

San Ramon Valley Unified School District

By route:

Route 622: Pine Valley Middle – California High – Crow Canyon Rd

Route 623: Alamo Plaza – Monte Vista High – Camino Tassajara – Crow Canyon Rd

Route 635: Windemere Ranch – Gale Ranch Middle – Dougherty Valley High  –  Tassajara Ranch

Route 636: Iron Horse Middle – Bollinger Canyon Rd – California High – Pine Valley Middle – Dublin/Pleasanton BART

By school:

Walnut Creek School District

By route:

Route 601: Walnut Creek BART – Rossmoor – Walnut Creek Intermediate

Route 602: Walnut Blvd – Trotter Way – Walnut Creek BART – Walnut Creek Intermediate

Route 605: Creekside Dr – Walnut Creek Intermediate

By school:

Exclusive Alamo Creek Shuttle

FEATURES OF ALAMO CREEK SHUTTLE

• Free to anyone traveling to and from the Danville Park ‘n Ride and Walnut Creek BART.
• Shuttle may stop at other locations within the 1.5 mile corridor along Camino Tassajara and 1-680
• Scheduled pickup at your door.
• Call 925-943-1829 for reservations 7 days a week.

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County Connection Welcomes the State’s Reopening Plan

Physical distancing requirements on County Connection will be lifted Wednesday, June 16.

CONCORD, Calif. – County Connection is transitioning from six-foot onboard physical distancing requirements to normal capacity requirements starting Wednesday, June 16th. On June 15th, California is expected to fully reopen, and capacity and distancing restrictions will be lifted for most businesses and activities. The county tier system based on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy will no longer be in effect.

According to the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Beyond the Blueprint public transit is no longer required to impose physical distancing requirements. However, per the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) face masks will continue to be required for individuals across all transportation networks throughout the United States, including at airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems through September 13th. Additional extensions to be determined.

“Over the last 15 months County Connection has followed all local, state and federal guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are proud of all our essential workers and their contributions to keep our economy going, allowing us to reach this reopening milestone”, said Keith Haydon, County Connection Board Chair. County Connection will continue to follow many protocols established during the COVID-19 pandemic including providing personal protective equipment, maintaining operator shields, nightly anti-viral fogging and cleaning and advanced HVAC system air filters across our fleet.

Free Service to COVID-19 Vaccination Site

We are happy to announce a new COVID-19 vaccination site in Concord at La Clinica located at 1034 Oak Grove Rd. In an effort to expand access to this site, County Connection will offer free rides 7 days a week on routes serving La Clinica. The site will operate from noon to 7 p.m.on Tuesdays (walk-in doses available 4:30 to 7 p.m.) and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays (walk-in doses from 12:30 to 3 p.m.).

Starting Saturday, May 1st, 2021 County Connection will offer free rides on Route 311. Weekday service on Route 11 has been free since 2019. Route 311 will be free through August 1st, 2021. We encourage the community to take advantage of this service to access the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have any questions, please call customer service at 925-676-7500.


Nos da gusta anunciar un nuevo sitio de vacunación contra el COVID-19, en Concord, localizado en La Clínica 1034 Oak Grove Rd.Para facilitar acceso a la vacuna, County Connection ofrecerá viajes gratis los 7 días de la semana en las rutas con servicio a La Clínica. La vacuna estará disponible del mediodía hasta las 7 p.m. los martes (habrá dosis disponible de 4:30 p.m. a 7 p.m. para aquellos sin cita). De miércoles a sábado habrá dosis disponible de 12:30 p.m. a 3 p.m. para aquellos sin cita.

Comenzando el sábado 1ro de mayo del 2021, County Connection no requerirá tarifa en la ruta 311. Servicio de lunes a viernes, en la ruta 11 ha sido gratis desde el 2019. La ruta 311 continuará ofreciendo servicio gratuito hasta el 1ro de agosto del 2021. Recomendamos aprovechar esta oportunidad para obtener la vacuna contra el COVID-19. Si tiene alguna pregunta, por favor de llamar a nuestro servicio al cliente al 925-676-7500.

Service Changes Effective March 21, 2021

Spring service changes will take effect starting Sunday, March 21, 2021, and will include schedule adjustments to Routes 6, 10, 17, 20, 27, 310, 311, 314, 315, 320, 321, & 335.

RouteChangeNew Schedule
6Revised schedule (weekend only) Download PDF
10Revised schedule Download PDF
17Revised schedule Download PDF
20Revised schedule Download PDF
27Added trip leaving North Concord at 5:25 pm Download PDF
301John Muir Hospital loop on Route 321 moved to new Route 301 Download PDF
310Revised schedule Download PDF
311Revised schedule Download PDF
314Revised schedule Download PDF
315Revised schedule Download PDF
320Revised schedule Download PDF
321Revised schedule; John Muir Hospital loop moved to new Route 301 Download PDF
335Revised schedule Download PDF