News – County Connection

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, and WestCATorg.  

County Connection Sees Increase in Ridership

Agency’s service and route changes realize results.

CONCORD, CA – County Connection is showing an increase in ridership in year-over-year comparisons, especially on routes where bus frequency has increased. Last spring the agency announced significant service and route changes that included increasing peak service frequency, discontinuing routes, adding extensions, and making minor adjustments. Since the changes in March 2019, although revenue hours have not increased, ridership is growing and was nearly 11% higher in November 2019, when compared to the same month last year.

“Any significant change in service will generally take a year or two for people to utilize it to its potential,” said Rick Ramacier, County Connection General Manager. “However, based on what we know about the response to the service changes so far, we are pleased.”

County Connection is showing signs of being ahead of the national curve on transit ridership increases. Nationally transit ridership reports did show declines through 2018, but of late numbers have stabilized and are on an upswing. According to the quarterly “Transit Ridership Report” released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), nationally ridership increased in 2019 by 2.20% when compared to the third quarter of 2018.

Primary contributors to County Connection’s ridership increase includes:

  • Comprehensive Operational Analysis of all County Connection services, which incorporated community needs outreach, rider input, and anticipated future public transit demands.
  • Major service changes implemented in March 2019 that included cuts, adjustments, and enhancements throughout the service area.
  • New weekend route 335 launched to serve the San Ramon Transit Center, Bollinger Canyon Rd, Dougherty Rd, and Dublin/Pleasanton BART on Saturdays and Sundays
  • Major schedule and routing changes to routes serving Bishop Ranch (Routes 92X, 95X, 96X, and 97X) featuring 10 min peak frequency from Walnut Creek to Bishop Ranch.
  • Free rides on three weekday bus routes – Routes 11, 14, and 16 – as part of a one-year pilot program that began on July 1, 2019.
  • Rider amenities like free Wi-Fi aboard County Connection buses.

“County Connection is more customer-focused to meet the needs of today’s riders and the significant improvements to our services means reduced roadway congestion from individual cars and more mobility options for those that need it,” said Candace Andersen, County Connection Board Chair. “We are encouraged by the direction our ridership numbers are going, knowing that we can connect more of the region’s residents to work, education, medical appointments, and other destinations that help people go about their daily lives. These early results prove riders are discovering how convenient riding public transit can be.”

System wide County Connection provides more than 12,000 daily rides throughout its service network. All County Connection riders can get real-time arrival information and track bus locations by downloading the Transit app, available for iPhone and Android phones, or by visiting

About County Connection
County Connection operates fixed-route and paratransit bus service throughout the communities of Concord, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Clayton, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Danville, San Ramon, as well as unincorporated communities in Central Contra Costa County. For assistance or for more information on bus routes, please visit or call Customer Service at (925) 676-7500.