By Will Reisman, @WillReisman
A series of SamTrans pilot projects that began earlier this year are showing positive results for the bus agency, while also providing important ridership data that will lead to additional improvements to its system.
On January 1, the bus agency began an 18-month plan to temporarily discount the price of its Day Pass. Formerly three times the price of a single Local ride ticket, the Day Pass was reduced to 2 ½ times the price of a single Local ride ticket. Through the end of March, SamTrans has seen an explosion in the number of Day Passes purchased, with total usage of the fare amounting to 129,268 trips, more than double the 64,075 trips recorded over the same period last year.
The Day Pass allows passengers to use one fare to ride all the Local routes all day, instead of paying each time they transfer to another bus.
On January 27, SamTrans launched new “flex” transit services in San Carlos and Pacifica. The San Carlos FLX and the Pacifica FLX combine elements of fixed-route service transportation with on-call aspects, allowing passengers to rely on regular schedules while also requesting specific pickup up to a half mile of the route or within the service area outside of fixed-route hours.
The Pacifica FLX has been successful since its inception, carrying about 100 passengers a day while meeting the needs of a community previously underserved by transit. The San Carlos FLX is only attracting 15 passengers a day, although ridership has been increasing lately and there are plans in place to attract more people to the service.
Beginning in June, the San Carlos FLX will install additional stops along the route while extending its service area to include the Redwood City Caltrain Station. The Pacifica FLX will also see some slight changes, with the span of the service day expanded upon its current timeframe of 7:00 a.m. to 5:40 p.m.
Both new flex services were part of the second phase of the SamTrans Service Plan (SSP), the most comprehensive adjustment to Peninsula bus service in a decade. The second phase of the SSP entailed changes to every single route on the SamTrans system and since its implementation, average weekday ridership has increased 2.2 percent. The new growth comes after years of falling ridership at SamTrans.