What’s Your Transit Priority?

Did you ever wonder how County Connection services are made possible? There’s a reason why we can’t just establish a bus line anywhere in our service area; we have to operate within very tight budget constraints, while maximizing service to the best of our abilities. If YOU had the choice, where would you place County Connection bus lines? For a limited time, you actually have the opportunity to be a bus planner for a day and vote for where you would like to see local transit services in Contra Costa. Your suggestions may be included in a long-term Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP).

Your specific votes for County Connection are especially vital. As a public service, County Connection is funded much like any other governmental service. That is, County Connection is heavily supported by taxes of various kinds. While about 16 to 18 percent of the total annual operating budget at County Connection comes from the fares riders pay, the bulk of the funding comes from federal, state and local funding. Of these, local funding is by far the largest piece. This funding as a whole makes up the operating budget (labor, fuel, insurance, maintenance, marketing, utilities, etc.).

County Connection also has a Capital Improvement Program that is largely funded by federal grants, as well as local match funding. Capital grants can only be used for particular expenses, and are largely used to replace the buses and vans in a timely manner. We are also allowed to use capital funding to maintain the maintenance facility where the buses are stored, fueled, and maintained. Federal grants used for these approved purposes are fairly reliable, as long as we have a federal transportation program. The Senate just passed a new six-year re-authorization that maintains this federal commitment to public transit (as well as the federal commitment to highways). That legislation will be taken up in the House this fall.From WC Platform-Horizontal

Let’s look more closely at the operating budget, and the revenues that support it. Of the taxes that sustain our operations, roughly 3 percent comes from federal sources, about 9 percent comes from state sources, and the rest – about 70-72 percent – is locally sourced. That’s right, approximately 70 percent or more of the County Connection operating revenue must come from local tax sources.

In fact, the trend for suburban transit systems, like County Connection, is to see more of its support come from local sources, as the federal and state governments re-orient their support for public transit towards the larger and more urban systems.

For example, the federal authorization that just expired saw a multi-billion dollar shift away from a funding program that largely benefitted smaller urban and suburban bus systems to a new program that benefits older large heavy rail systems – primarily in places like Chicago, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the state of California seems to be transitioning their approach to funding public transit to one that is heavily tied to the new Cap and Trade based greenhouse gas reduction programs. Areas like Contra Costa County are not doing well under Cap and Trade-based programs because of our relatively good air quality. In short, lately our share of state transit funding is trending downward.

This means, as we move forward, County Connection and other similar systems are going to become more and more reliant on local funding sources. In recognition of this expectation, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is currently working on developing its potential plan (TEP) for transportation projects funded by a future Contra Costa County tax measure.

This is where YOU come in. County Connection could greatly benefit by new funding through such a measure to improve transit services where they are needed most. Be a part of Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s public input to help prioritize what projects and programs should be included in the long-term roadmap (TEP) we are developing for future transportation investments.

Vote Today

To make sharing your transit priorities easy, a collection tool is available where you can sign in to access a personal piggybank with 10 virtual coins that you can invest across the projects and programs you care most about. How you divvy them up is your choice – you can use all of your coins in one place, spread them out among 10 different priorities, or anything in between.

You can also participate by attending one of the number of public meetings on the development of the Expenditure Plan that Contra Costa Transportation Authority is planning. You can visit Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s website to learn more.

Finally, if you would like to see the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s Expenditure Plan include new funding for bus transit, let your locally elected officials know! Tell them how important good bus service is for you and your community.

Remember, the future of bus transit in our area is going to be locally driven and locally funded, so let us know your transit priorities!

New Community Shuttle To Debut In Martinez

Martinez Community Shuttle – Route 3 Begins Monday, August 17th

I’ve said it before here, but it’s worth repeating: I strongly believe good collaborative planning often leads to better results. On Monday, August 17 such a product of good collaborative planning will take hold in Martinez. That is the first day of County Connection’s new Martinez community shuttle – Route 3.

Here’s a re-cap of how the long-awaited Route 3 finally came to be:

The City of Martinez identified the need for some type of shuttle between downtown and the neighborhoods in its 2009 Downtown Martinez Community-Based Transportation Plan. Unfortunately, shortly after that, the recession hit and County Connection was forced to cut service – rather than increase it – due to massive losses of sales tax revenues.

Flash-forward four years, as the area emerged from the recession, County Connection completed its Adaptive Service Plan (ASP) in 2013. This plan was the result of a joint planning effort involving County Connection, the City of Concord, the City of Clayton, the City of Martinez, the City of Pleasant Hill, and the City of Walnut Creek. The five cities participated through TRANSPAC, one of the four Regional Transportation Planning Committees (RTPC) of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. The purpose of the plan was to identify projects to extend transit services to areas that were either underserved or could benefit from a non-traditional approach to transit service.

The ASP made recommendations for service improvements in Martinez and Walnut Creek. The two service improvements in Walnut Creek were implemented in 2014. This involved making service improvements to Route 5, which connects the high-density area of Creekside in Walnut Creek directly to downtown Walnut Creek, including the BART station. The City of Walnut in turn, chose to subsidize the fares of riders on Route 5 making it “free” to the passenger. This has led to a nearly four-fold increase in average daily ridership on this service!

Another service improvement in Walnut Creek from the ASP was a streamlining of Route 7, which connects the Pleasant Hill BART station with the Shadelands business park. The improvements make it much more attractive to shuttle back and forth between these two locations. This in turn has led the Shadelands property owners to underwrite the fares on Route 7, making this route also “free” to the public. Similar to Route 5, ridership on Route 7 has increased by approximately 50 percent since these improvements were made. And, as of this summer, the Route 7 buses have a special wrap that clearly identifies the bus as a Shadelands BART Shuttle.

Both of these ASP recommendations were made possible by restructuring Route 2 (with a ridership of less than 50 people a day), which was another ASP recommendation. Thus, these improvements were cost neutral. The area Route 2 serves has been identified for future innovative technology-based transportation options (i.e. Uber style services).

The remaining ASP recommendation from 2013 was to implement a community shuttle in Martinez. While the ASP provided a cost neutral recommendation to pay for a new community shuttle, public meetings and outreach indicated that restructuring services in Martinez was not the preferred course of action. Instead, it was determined to wait until new funding for the new community shuttle could be secured.

This is where the final piece of the puzzle comes into play. In 2014, the State of California enacted a spending plan for the revenue raised through a state cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction program <http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/capandtrade.htm>, as a response to climate change. This program started in January 2012. Within this spending plan, the state allocates transit funding to various parts of the state to make transit improvements that will both reduce greenhouse gases, as well as provide new transit options to “disadvantaged communities (DAC)”. The state defines these DACs largely using indicators of the considered ill effects of air pollution.Bus on Alhambra

Looping back to the City of Martinez, the zone identified for the desired Martinez community shuttle provides direct services to an area of Martinez that the state has designated as a DAC. Therefore, it qualifies for newly available funding from the cap-and-trade program. In the Bay Area, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is the entity that disburses cap-and-trade transit funding to Bay Area transit operators. County Connection applied for cap-and-trade funding to MTC to fund the new Martinez community shuttle and MTC agreed to fund it!

As a result of this multi-partner collaborative planning process, we begin service on our new County Connection Route 3 on Monday, August 17. It is exciting to enable people living in Martinez to be minutes away from their downtown by transit, where they work, play and enjoy all the wonderful new and old things to do in downtown Martinez, including the Martinez marina.

This is a prime example of how good planning and good transit can enrich the community experience.

America’s Transportation Infrastructure Lags Behind Global Transit Standards

Earlier this month, County Connection proudly participated in a national event called “Stand Up For Transportation” (SU4T). This national event , held on April 9, was organized and sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) with the goal to highlight and emphasize just how important transportation infrastructure is to the United States.

County Connection, along with over 20 other Bay Area organizations, participated in a joint event at the temporary Transbay Terminal in San Francisco to lend our voices to the day-long, national outcry to congress demanding long-term investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure to keep America moving forward.

Why was SU4T necessary? Because investment in all transportation is at record lows, when accounting for inflation, going back to before the 1950s. Yet, our economy and our daily lives have never depended more on our various transportation systems than they do now. Meanwhile, other countries, like China, are building new transportation systems at a breakneck pace.

Beyond building awareness, SU4T events specifically called out federal leaders with the demand that they address the unacceptable lack of investment in transportation by passing an overdue reauthorization of a federal transportation bill with adequate funding before the current federal transportation funding bill, Moving Ahead for Progress crowdin the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), expires on May 31.

Imagine if the nation had not invested in the interstate freeway system in the 1950s and 1960s. Imagine if we had not invested in BART in the 1960s and 1970s. Those things were not built to last forever. All of these transportation systems are in dire need of full replacement. The sad truth is we don’t have to imagine anything. The daily drive down our local streets and roads is already an exercise in dodging potholes, avoiding traffic backups, and the need for meditation tapes! After all, being late for work puts you at risk economically, as does paying for costly repairs to your car when you have to drive down streets of disrepair.

This is to say nothing of our struggles to keep up with demand for additional transportation options and opportunities. We are essentially relying on the same levels of transportation services as we did in 1990. Yet, population and job growth have been extensive. We need to find ways of increasing transportation services and facilities.

How did we get to this state of disrepair and stagnation with respect to transportation? Well, like anything of this magnitude, there is no one single reason. However, our financial investment has dwindled significantly. This is a main part of the problem, as we can’t build or maintain any transportation facilities or services for free. They all cost a lot of money.

Federal investment in transportation peaked in 1993 and has been steadily eroding ever since. This is because the funding source of the federal investment is the federal gas tax (or excise tax). This tax has been at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993 and in today’s dollars, buys much less than it did then. Therefore, the net result is less investment in transportation.

If you believe that our nation’s highways, streets and roads, public transit, and airports, etc. need to be improved and better maintained, then you too can join County Connection and scores of others that “Stand Up For Transportation”!  Write, call, or email your Congressperson, and let them know that adequate federal investment in transportation is vital to your quality life and your economic well-being.

Rider Numbers Rising On County Connection

The number of people using County Connection services is increasing and the trend looks to continue into 2015. As the economy began its turnaround a few years ago, we have seen our overall ridership grow by over 5 percent. This is not unexpected. A better performing economy means that people have more places to go and can afford to travel more. And, when we look at a few select examples, we can reasonably conclude that many new riders are using County Connection to travel to and from job sites.

For example, when we look at this past October and compare it to October 2013, we find a number of interesting things. Take average weekday ridership. In October of 2014, County Connection had an average weekday ridership of 14,112 passengers, while in October 2013 the figure was 12,752 passengers. This represents an increase in average weekday ridership of 13 percent. We see something similar when looking at a standard measure of productivity: passengers per revenue hour (pax/rvh) of service. In October 2014, County Connection had a pax/rvh of 17.4 compared to 15.7 in October of 2013. This is represents an increase of 10.8 percent.

We also see a good increase with weekend ridership. Again using October as our snapshot, we see that in October 2014, total weekend ridership is at 23,248 passengers compared to 22,651 passengers in October 2013. This increase of 2.6 percent becomes more meaningful when considering that October 2013 had nine weekend days to the eight weekend days of October 2014.

If we study routes, certain ones have experienced significantly greater increases in ridership than others.  For example, Route 95X – an express service between the Walnut Creek BART Station and the Bishop Ranch Business Park – has seen a 16 percent increase from October 2013 to October 2014. This reflects the growing employment numbers at the businesses in the location. Another route example that really jumps out is the huge increase on Route 5, which connects the Creekside neighborhood in Walnut Creek with downtown Walnut Creek and eventually the BART Station. This route has an increase of 277 percent from October 2013 to October 2014! This is most certainly due to the free fares now offered on Route 5 through a City of Walnut Creek fare subsidization of all riders using this route. This means that in October 2013, riders paid a fare to board the bus, while in October 2014, the City of Walnut Creek covered each rider’s fare.

We also have seen a large increase in usage within the Dougherty Valley area of San Ramon. This area is primarily served by Route 35, which connects the heart of Dougherty Valley with the Dublin BART Station largely via Bollinger Canyon Road and Dougherty Road. In October 2014, this route had an average weekday ridership of 540 passengers compared to 448 average weekday passengers in 2013. This represents an increase of nearly 21 percent.

Finally, County Connection saw an increase of 23 percent from October 2013 to October 2014 on Route 6. This route serves Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda connecting them to the Lafayette and Orinda BART Stations via Moraga Road and Moraga Way.

Regardless of the reasons for the ridership gains, from subsidies to the growing economy, all of us at County Connection are very encouraged and buoyed by these – in some cases very substantial – increases. Together with our riders, we are contributing to more cars off the road, lessening congestion and improving the environment in our community.

Season of Giving: County Connection Participates in Food Drive

Every year, County Connection participates in the drive to collect donations for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano; the collection typically runs for a two-week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, it ran throughout the County between November 30th and December 13th. County Connection offered an easy way for the community to participate in the program by having a crate available ready to accept donations as riders boarded their bus. We also had a donation drop off onsite at our administrative office located at 2477 Arnold Industrial Way in Concord. Not only did we collect donations from our passengers, we also encouraged donations from County Connection employees. Historically, our employees have been very generous when it comes to donating food to the food bank. Our goal this year was to raise over 1,000 pounds of food from our County Connection collection points. We nearly reached it with a total of 900 pounds, which represents a 10 percent increase from last year. In past years, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano has formally recognized us for our food raising efforts. Everyone at County Connection is very proud of that. One of the fastest ways to get into the holiday spirit of giving is by donating food to those that find themselves in need, however, I personally urge everyone who reads this blog to donate food to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, not just during the holidays, but also throughout the year. If you are not familiar with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, the group:

  • Provides food to nearly 188,000 people EVERY month, of which 28% receiving emergency food are children
  • Distributes food directly back into the community through school and church programs
  • Distributes food to recognized non-profit organizations such as Monument Crisis Center, La Clinica de la Raza, and WIC
  • Accepts cash donations to provide fresh fruits, vegetables and other perishable foods that cannot be stored for long periods at its warehouses — 96 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to food programs
  • Has hundreds of regular volunteers that help keep food moving through its warehouses into the community, as well as assisting with education and outreach
  • Offers harvesting assistance to people wishing to donate excess amounts of fruit on trees

I want to thank everyone who donated food to the Contra Costa Food Bank this holiday season. And, I thank County Connection employees who donate and work our piece of this important campaign. More people than ever rely on food banks for basic nutritional needs making every donation very meaningful. All of us at County Connection wish you and yours a happy holiday.

New Buses. New County Connection Look.

Earlier this year, County Connection took delivery of seven new buses. These buses, which are manufactured locally in Hayward, are now fully integrated into the fleet and have been in revenue service since earlier this summer. These buses also represent the first ones purchased that emphasize our County Connection brand and the extensive work towards modernizing the look of our buses in a cost efficient manner.

If you take a closer look at these new buses on the street, you might notice a few things. For one, they are brighter than previous buses. The beige background has evolved to crisp white, and the reddish-brown color has subtly become a clearer red. This alone creates a much brighter and more modern look. So far, passengers and the public are giving us the thumbs up on our efforts.

In addition, on the side of the new buses we have moved our “County Connection” branding up towards the top of the bus, instead of the bottom. This ensures that our brand remains visible to the public even if there is an advertisement on the side of the bus. This is in keeping with one of the tenants of the recently adopted policy on County Connection branding. We plan to continue to work on modernizing and highlighting the County Connection brand, in an inexpensive way, while letting transit users know who we are and what we do. By timing the rework on bus paint colors as we purchase new buses, rather than to change all the buses in our fleet will be of neutral cost instead of incremental.

Environmentally Better Too

How our buses look is significant, but not as important as how they affect the environment. Our seven new buses are powered by engines fueled by clean diesel. These diesel buses are not like your father’s diesel bus; they are much cleaner in terms of emissions. For example, these new buses are at least 50% cleaner in terms of mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide) than the seven buses we retired. More impressively, these clean diesel buses emit over 90% less particulate matter (PM) than their predecessors prior to 2002.  On top of that these new buses achieve fuel efficiencies in terms of miles per gallon (MPG) that represent an increase in MPG of at least 18%.  So, the new buses are much better for the environment than the seven buses they replaced whether it’s related to reducing greenhouse gases or reducing overall air pollution. Plus, the greater MPG will save County Connection on its fuel costs.

As is our standard practice, the new buses were purchased via competitive bid. The winning bidder was the Gillig Corporation located down the road in Hayward. Gillig not only had the best proposal, they also had the best pricing. Gillig employs over 700 skilled workers, of which many live and shop in central Contra Costa County.

So, you can see why we are proud of our new buses and we are pleased that in the recent months following the introduction into our fleet that passengers and others are giving them good reviews too.

Safety Starts with Training

County Connection bus operators are among the best and most thoroughly trained in public transit. One of the key outcomes of this extensive training is that they are also among the safest operators too. Our safety performance has exceeded our safety standards for many years. The primary metric we rely on is the number of preventable accidents per 100,000 miles of service. Our standard is 1 preventable accident/100,000 miles of service. We have met that standard every year going back to 1999. Furthermore, 16 of our current bus operators have had 20 or more years of safe driving!

In addition to producing some of the safest operators in public transit, our operator training program produces highly professional bus operators when it comes to customer relations, emergency response, assisting passengers with disabilities, recognizing and responding correctly to dangerous or unexpected situations, and comprehensive knowledge of our service area, among other things.

Developing these highly trained bus operators is much more involved than you might think.

Every County Connection bus operator receives an intense and comprehensive seven week training course before they ever drive a bus in service. This extensive New Hire Training is where County Connection bus operators are initiated into our organizational culture that values and rewards safety first.

Each new class entails over 200 hours of classroom instruction in areas such as buses and bus components, radio use and protocols, how to check a bus for safe operations, wheel chair tie-downs, substance abuse, defensive driving, dealing with passengers who may not be sober, or may have blood borne pathogen related issues, customer relations, working with seniors and persons with disabilities, managing emergencies and difficult situations, handling accidents and reporting, and our Safe Place Program (we are a designated safe place for troubled teens) among other topics. Each operator also goes through up to 40 hours of behind-the-wheel driving instruction.

Finally, after passing these extensive hours of training, a bus operator can then drive revenue passenger service, but only with a trainer on-board. Once an operator successfully completes all County Connection training, they must complete and pass a vehicle pre-trip test, a brake test, and a driving test all administered by a County Connection certified DMV trainer. They must also pass a fitness for duty test administered by a DMV approved doctor. The DMV will then provide the successful operator with a Class B license with the appropriate and necessary public transit bus operator endorsements.

Once all training is complete and with Class B license is in hand, a new bus operator is ready to be a County Connection driver.

Continuing Education

Driver education doesn’t stop there, however, operators continue to receive training throughout their career. Each year, every operator receives eight hours of Verification of Transit Training (VTT). Completing this training is mandatory for keeping a Class B license with the necessary endorsements. This training focuses on a wide range of topics that may include: safe driving, customer service, American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and handling challenging customers. Also, many operators will receive additional retraining of various kinds, on an as needed basis.

The County Connection training program is done in house with our expert staff. This includes two professional trainers, as well as up to eight federal Department of Transportation (DOT) certified operator trainers. These are County Connection bus operators who are certified to train fellow bus operators. Our two professional trainers both are federally certified by the DOT, as well as fully certified by the DMV and the State Department of Education.

Our training program – originally developed over 25 years ago – is constantly improving under the long time direction of our Manager of Safety and Training. Working closely with her for many of these years is our Assistant Manager of Training. Without the leadership of these two great employees, our training program would not be nearly as successful as it has been.

I take great pride in our bus operators, our trainers, the bus operator training program, and our safety record at County Connection. Together they are an important part of our great record of providing outstanding service to the residents of central and south county.

Free Fare Bus Service from Creekside: An Organic and Smart Transportation – Land Use Outcome

Thanks to the City of Walnut Creek, County Connection will introduce a revamped Route 5 on Monday, August 18. This retooled service will provide direct and quick access between the Creekside neighborhood and the Walnut Creek BART Station. The route is anticipated to be popular, with buses hitting various stops every 20-minutes during peak travel periods. And, perhaps best of all, it will be free to all riders courtesy of the City of Walnut Creek, who will underwrite the fares for users.

There are 439 apartment units along Creekside Drive with an estimated population of just over 2,000 people.  The “new” Route 5 helps convert an established denser neighborhood into one that is transit-friendly and is an example of what urban planners commonly call, “smart growth” – meaning growth that is directed in an intentional and comprehensive manner.  While Creekside doesn’t represent new growth, the revamped Route 5 is a significant improvement to the quality of life for this established neighborhood and proves that the principles of smart growth apply to existing communities, as well as developing new ones “smartly”.

The “new” Route 5 is a good illustration of how a thriving partnership, like the one between County Connection and the City of Walnut Creek, can benefit public transit and the people who take advantage of our services. Without the City’s cooperation and partnership, service improvements like to Route 5 would not be possible. And of course, without the City’s financial support, the Route 5 fares would not be free.

The revamped Route 5 is also an example of good public planning. This retooled service is a result of the recently completed Adaptive Service Plan that County Connection produced earlier this year. This planning process looked at areas, like the Creekside neighborhood, to see how bus services could be improved and made more effective and useful to the public. With the implementation of the “new” Route 5, County Connection is bringing its Adaptive Service Plan to life and improving the livability of a neighborhood. It’s an organic, real and tangible example of good transportation and land use coordination of existing resources and existing development.

Serving Local Students

With the arrival of summer, County Connection once again is offering its Summer Youth Passes for youth ages 6 to 18 years old.  This special also allows two or more children to use the same pass making it even more convenient for budget conscious families.  County Connection has a long history of serving the youth in our area.

After the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, most school districts in California responded by reducing yellow school bus services.  This was one of the more popular ways for school districts to manage the declining tax revenues associated with Proposition 13.   School districts in Contra Costa County were among those that took this path.

However, students still needed transportation to and from school throughout the County Connection service area.  Thus, County Connection became a popular transportation option for many students.  On a typical school day, nearly 2,000 youth use County Connection for travel to or from school.

It is worth noting that providing this service was one of the main drivers behind the effort to create County Connection in 1980.

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

To further facilitate this service, County Connection has well established working relationships with all the school districts and schools within our service area.  This helps us to provide smooth, efficient, and safe transportation for many students in our area.  In addition, most schools do a great job of marketing our services to their surrounding communities, which is beneficial to us, as it leads to additional County Connection usage beyond students going to school.

This just another example of how our partnering with the community is so vital to what we do at County Connection.  Ultimately, it’s the public that benefits from these partnerships.

Operation Restrictions

County Connection bus services geared toward students is not the same, however as a typical yellow school bus service.  In fact, the school districts have actually little say in how we operate these services.  In providing services that are used by students, County Connection has to adhere to some seemingly routine, but interesting federal regulations that most people are not aware of.

In short, federal law forbids public transit operators, like County Connection, from operating direct school bus service.  That means that we cannot operate on school property, that any and all services we offer must be available to anyone – not just the students going to a school, and that any service that serves a bus stop next to a school must also serve all other bus stops along that route.

What we can do is tailor schedules to school bell times and adjust routing to some degree.  The partnering with the schools also includes regular communications of various bell times and things like early outs, well in advance of each school year.

So, while we don’t operate school bus service per se, we do operate service that is very useful for many students to go to and from school.  This is gratifying for us to offer, and a service for which parents are very thankful.

Our Valuable Partnership With DVC

Diablo Valley College (DVC) has provided quality education for over 60 years and is one of three publicly supported two-year community colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District. The larger of DVC’s two campuses is located off Interstate 680 in Pleasant Hill. The newer San Ramon Campus serves the south county in Dougherty Valley. Between its two campuses, DVC serves more than 22,000 students each semester. The challenge both face is parking for its students, faculty and staff. The Pleasant Hill campus has approximately 2,000 parking spaces. This is where County Connection comes in.

County Connection has a long history of providing service to DVC. We consider DVC to be one of our most valuable partners. San Ramon Campus is accessible using County Connection route 35. In late 2010, a new County Connection Transit Center was opened at DVC Pleasant Hill. This project, which was funded in large part through a federal transportation earmark garnered by then Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher and supported by local Measure J funds, is vital to the modernization of the DVC campus. It allows us to safely and conveniently serve more people with public transit at DVC’s largest campus.

Currently, over 1,000 students and faculty use County Connection to access DVC Pleasant Hill on a daily basis. County Connection riders can use routes 9, 18, 20, or 28 to access DVC. All of these routes directly serve a BART station. These connections to BART allow students and faculty to use public transit regionally to access DVC. This is important as many DVC students come from outside central Contra Costa County. Of course people living locally can use County Connection quite easily to get to DVC too. Routes 314, 316, and 320 serve the Pleasant Hill campus on weekends.

Advocates for More Transit

Last year, DVC students attended a meeting of the County Connection Operations & Scheduling (O&S) Committee to talk about over-crowding on Route 20 between the Concord BART station and DVC. They came prepared, showing the committee photographs of the overcrowding and advocated for more service. As a result of that, the O&S Committee directed County Connection staff to add buses to Route 20 to accommodate the demand for service to DVC. These added buses – as well as the others on Route 20 – are often full.

As DVC continues to grow in terms of student population, public transit service to and from DVC will only become more vital.  To prepare, County Connection and DVC are in discussions about the creation of a DVC student/faculty fare pass for County Connection service. Also, we are looking at ways to enhance services to DVC in the future.

County Connection also plays another important role as a key partner with DVC when it comes to emergency response and/or evacuation. A number of DVC students have physical disabilities that require the use of County Connection LINK service to access DVC. Should a need ever arise to evacuate DVC during an emergency, County Connection LINK staff and DVC staff have processes in place to ensure the safe and timely evacuation of LINK users from DVC.

Our service to DVC also benefits the residents of Pleasant Hill that live near DVC. As the DVC parking lots fill, students and faculty that use County Connection to access DVC are not parking in the adjacent neighborhoods, which reduces potential traffic in the area and also saves scarce on-street parking for those nearby residents.

All of us at County Connection take pride in the role we play in making DVC a very valuable place of learning for the future leaders and producers of our community.

Our Valuable Partnership With DVC

Diablo Valley College (DVC) has provided quality education for over 60 years and is one of three publicly supported two-year community colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District. The larger of DVC’s two campuses is located off Interstate 680 in Pleasant Hill. The newer San Ramon Campus serves the south county in Dougherty Valley. Between its two campuses, DVC serves more than 22,000 students each semester. The challenge both face is parking for its students, faculty and staff. The Pleasant Hill campus has approximately 2,000 parking spaces. This is where County Connection comes in.

County Connection has a long history of providing service to DVC. We consider DVC to be one of our most valuable partners. San Ramon Campus is accessible using County Connection route 35. In late 2010, a new County Connection Transit Center was opened at DVC Pleasant Hill. This project, which was funded in large part through a federal transportation earmark garnered by then Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher and supported by local Measure J funds, is vital to the modernization of the DVC campus. It allows us to safely and conveniently serve more people with public transit at DVC’s largest campus.

Currently, over 1,000 students and faculty use County Connection to access DVC Pleasant Hill on a daily basis. County Connection riders can use routes 9, 18, 20, or 28 to access DVC. All of these routes directly serve a BART station. These connections to BART allow students and faculty to use public transit regionally to access DVC. This is important as many DVC students come from outside central Contra Costa County. Of course people living locally can use County Connection quite easily to get to DVC too. Routes 314, 316, and 320 serve the Pleasant Hill campus on weekends.

Advocates for More Transit

Last year, DVC students attended a meeting of the County Connection Operations & Scheduling (O&S) Committee to talk about over-crowding on Route 20 between the Concord BART station and DVC. They came prepared, showing the committee photographs of the overcrowding and advocated for more service. As a result of that, the O&S Committee directed County Connection staff to add buses to Route 20 to accommodate the demand for service to DVC. These added buses – as well as the others on Route 20 – are often full.

As DVC continues to grow in terms of student population, public transit service to and from DVC will only become more vital.  To prepare, County Connection and DVC are in discussions about the creation of a DVC student/faculty fare pass for County Connection service. Also, we are looking at ways to enhance services to DVC in the future.

County Connection also plays another important role as a key partner with DVC when it comes to emergency response and/or evacuation. A number of DVC students have physical disabilities that require the use of County Connection LINK service to access DVC. Should a need ever arise to evacuate DVC during an emergency, County Connection LINK staff and DVC staff have processes in place to ensure the safe and timely evacuation of LINK users from DVC.

Our service to DVC also benefits the residents of Pleasant Hill that live near DVC. As the DVC parking lots fill, students and faculty that use County Connection to access DVC are not parking in the adjacent neighborhoods, which reduces potential traffic in the area and also saves scarce on-street parking for those nearby residents.

All of us at County Connection take pride in the role we play in making DVC a very valuable place of learning for the future leaders and producers of our community.