By Will Reisman, @WillReisman
A scowl creeps across Lordy Wilkerson’s face when he recalls the times he narrowly missed SamTrans 390, the predecessor to today’s ECR service on El Camino Real.
“Man, I’ve been stuck out in the rain, knowing that I’ve got to wait 30 minutes for the 390 to show up,” said Wilkerson, an East Palo Alto resident who travels on SamTrans four days a week. “And sometimes, that 30 minutes turns into 45 minutes. Not fun at all.”
Fortunately for Wilkerson, those issues are a thing of the past, with SamTrans new ECR service. Route ECR was developed to improve frequency and reliability along SamTrans main corridor. Nearly half of all SamTrans trips take place along El Camino.
“It’s a big upgrade,” said Wilkerson. “I think it’s a faster service, and the fact that buses now come every 15 minutes is a huge bonus.”
ECR replaces SamTrans routes 390 and 391, with improved 15 minute weekday service and 20 minute service on weekends. It provides service to Caltrain and BART stations along the route – South San Francisco and San Bruno BART are served with stops along El Camino Real – as well as other key transit centers previously served by either the 390 or 391. With the new ECR line, every bus goes to the same stops, so customers do not have to worry about whether they are on the right bus.
Rhina Castillo, a San Mateo resident, said travelling to Palo Alto along El Camino Real used to be difficult, since only one of the two former bus lines served that city. Now, with the ECR service, she can just show up at her bus stop and get on the first ECR to come along.
“I take SamTrans six times a week,” said Castillo. “It’s nice to take the bus and not worry at all about scheduling. The ECR has definitely made my life easier.”
Norma Villafone used to take the 390 or 391 to her doctor’s office in Burlingame. She said she “loves” the new ECR weekday service.
“Having the 15 minute frequency is great,” said Villafone, who lives in Half Moon Bay, and takes SamTrans several times a week. “It used to be that if you missed a bus, you’d have to wait and wait. Now, you know one is coming very soon.”
The ECR line is one of the first service improvements under the SamTrans Service Plan (SSP), an initiative carried out by the San Mateo County Transit District to reinvent the bus system. The SSP is the result of a two-year study, which included more than 40 public meetings and feedback from more than 1,800 stakeholders.
Additional service changes are planned for January 2014.