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County Connection has been providing public transit service to the central and south regions of Contra Costa County for nearly 40 years. During those years, County Connection has constantly been innovative, forward-looking, and at times the first-to-implement new technologies, all of which allows us to continuously provide better service to the public and/or promote greater efficiencies in our operations.
In this and in a few future blogs, I will review some of County Connection’s past progressive efforts. The final blog in this series will look at where we expect the next opportunities for public transportation innovation to be found.
I’ll start with two things we did in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Making Transit More Accessible
Did you know that County Connection became the first public transit system in America to deploy a fully accessible fleet of buses on its fixed-route services?
In the 1980s, County Connection set out to install wheelchair (we now say mobility device) lifts on every bus. It should be noted that through the 1990s, most transit buses had high floors that required the use of stairs to board and alight the bus. At the same time, a lot of transit providers did not offer mechanical lifts to allow people with wheelchairs to get in and out of standard transit buses, which made it impossible, in many cases, for them to use public transit.
With the high floor and stairs barriers, County Connection saw the need to serve those folks who used mobility devices with its fixed-route service network, so it set out to install lifts on every bus. By early 1989, County Connection completed its installation of lifts and became the first public transit system to do so. This forward-thinking approach to make transit services more accessible to all riders turned out to foreshadow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in September of 1990, which among many other things, mandated that public transit outfit all of its buses with lifts by the end 1996. County Connection was way ahead of the curve.
By about 2000, most of the new buses in North America were designed with a low floor eliminating the need for a wheelchair lift.
In late 1989, County Connection became the first transit system in America to procure and install the Trapeze fixed-route scheduling system, a first-of-its-kind highly computerized scheduling software exclusively made for scheduling fixed-route transit buses.
One of the innovations that Trapeze allowed us to take advantage of early on is how it facilities – through computerized scheduling – the practice of interlining routes and buses. This is because Trapeze scheduling software was the first such software to rely on complex algorithms to create a system schedule based on inputs and parameters set by the scheduler. Interlining is the practice of using one bus for multiple routes as opposed to having one bus run just along one route. This creates operating efficiencies such that with interlining you can provide the same level of service in terms of hours of service with fewer buses and lower operational costs.
After we installed Trapeze in early 1990, we began to increase our interlining of buses over time. This led to significant operational efficiency gains at County Connection. Without the computerization, complex interlining becomes extremely time-consuming, as well as challenging for people without advanced math degrees.
Today, Trapeze fixed-route scheduling software is used by at least half of all public transit systems in America. Once again, County Connection was ahead of the curve.
These are just a few examples of what we have done at County Connection that reflect our innovative spirit. Did both of these innovations meet the test of: Does the innovation either make the service better for the customer or create cost savings in our day-to-day operations? In the case of installing wheelchair lifts and implementing a highly computerized software package, the answer is yes. Innovation paid off very well.
Effective: August 12, 2018
Route 3 – Eliminated
Route 28 – New Map – serving Wal-Mart along Old Orchard Rd.
Route 99X – New Commuter Route – Amtrak to North Concord/Martinez BART
Route 316 – New trips added
Click here for PDF map: Proposed Service Map
Proposed Service Restructure and Fare Modification Proposal
At the April 2018 Board of Directors meeting staff presented two proposals: a service restructure and a fare modification. The Board authorized County Connection staff to proceed with the public outreach process and report back with a final recommendation. Staff anticipates conducting six (6) public hearing (Scheduled Public Hearings) throughout County Connection’s service area in the next couple of months. Below please find more detailed information about both proposals. The earliest these proposed changes would take place is Spring 2019.
Planning staff has divided the changes into four regions, the Core, North, South, and Lamorinda. No changes are proposed to the supplemental ‘600’ series routes timed to school bell times. Please follow the links bellow for additional information about each region.
The last time fares were increased was in 2009, nearly ten (10) years ago. The current proposal will increase the one-way cash fare to $2.50 (for local and express routes) and eliminate paper passes. However, a one-way fare on Clipper will remain at $2.00 and passengers will continue to benefit from the $3.75 Day Pass and Monthly Local/Express Passes, all available on Clipper. For complete details of all changes, follow the link below.
South Restructure Concepts
Danville, Dublin, San Ramon
- Eliminate Route 36, but retain coverage on its productive northern alignment with an extended Route 35. Review alternate transit options for San Ramon
- Extend Route 35 to Crow Canyon Rd., roughly double frequency of service
- Eliminate Route 97X and increase peak Route 35 frequency. Route 35 has similar travel times to the current Route 97X from East Dublin BART and Bishop Ranch. Route 97X has also has low ridership. This proposal requires additional discussion with Bishop Ranch
- Remove Alcosta Blvd. from Route 92X to speed up run times
North Restructure Concepts
Martinez, North Concord
The main changes to the north service area include:
- Split Route 28 in half and retain its Martinez-DVC segments
- New alignment with 2-way Walmart service
- Eliminate service to Marsh Rd./Arnold Industrial Way
- Add service to the Arnold/Morello high ridership corridor
- Eliminate small, light industrial segment of Howe Rd.
- Create a new Route 27 to serve North Concord
- Create new North Concord BART connections
- Allocate at least two revenue hours of service for loop
- Replace current Route 627, with more frequent service
- Add Route 98X peak trips to connect with Amtrak in Martinez
Lamorinda Restructure Concepts
Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda
- Eliminate Route 25 due to low ridership
- Potentially increase peak service on Route 6
Core Restructure Concepts
Clayton, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek
- Streamline Route 19 to use Concord Ave. instead of going to Concord BART via Sun Valley Mall.
- Streamline Route 9 by eliminating routing to JFK, Patterson Blvd., and Oak Park Blvd.
- Realign Route 18 to service Patterson Blvd., and Oak Park Blvd. and adjust trip times to meet school bell times; consider routing along Taylor Blvd. instead of Viking Dr.
- Create a new alignment for Route 10 to turn around at Washington/Michigan instead of the Ayers Rd./Kirker Pass loop. End 50% of peak trips at this loop that currently continues on to Marsh Creek Rd. in Clayton. Only one quarter of the ridership rides past Kirker Pass
- Extend Route 14 to Walnut Creek BART to expand access to jobs from the Monument Corridor. Increase frequencies to every 30 minutes.
- Terminate Route 15 at Pleasant Hill BART (it will no longer service Walnut Creek BART, this will be covered by Route 14
- Eliminate Route 1M and Route 2 due to low ridership and poor efficiency
- Realign Route 95X to exit Hwy. 680 at S. Main St., to provide direct access to Downtown Walnut Creek from the south and avoid congestion
- Eliminate Route 301 to Rossmoor due to low ridership
- Extend 311 to John Muir Hospital to cover the Ygnacio Valley Rd. portion of 301
- Increase frequency on Route 4 from 15 minutes to 12 minutes
- Adjust times, where possible, on local routes to meet school bell times in the Pleasant Hill area
- Eliminate Route 315 due to low ridership
Scheduled Public Hearings
Subject: Proposed Service Restructure and Fare Modification
All meetings will be held from 4:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. except San Ramon which will be held 4:30p.m. to 6:30p.m.
June 25, 2018 – Martinez: Council Chambers, 525 Henrietta St
June 26, 2018 – Lafayette: Supervisor Andersen’s Office, 3338 Mt. Diablo Blvd
June 27, 2018 – Concord: Council Chambers, 1950 Parkside Dr
July 9, 2018 – Pleasant Hill: Large Community Room, 100 Gregory Ln
July 24, 2018 – Walnut Creek: Council Chambers, 1666 N. Main St
July 25, 2018 – San Ramon: Community Center – Fountain Room, 12501 Alcosta Blvd
The deadline to submit comments is July 31, 2018.
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