As we reach the end of the year and look back at all of our accomplishments in 2016, the San Mateo County Transit District has plenty of reasons to be proud.
SamTrans continues to provide first-class bus operations, serving communities from the Highway 101 corridor to the Coastside, while Caltrain remains the travel option of choice for commuters traveling between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) maintains its investment role in crucial infrastructure projects.
We pride ourselves on efficiency, reliability and safety. That’s why our passengers on SamTrans and Caltrain keep coming back, but with gas prices at record lows and with the addition of new transportation alternatives like ride share companies, we’re always exploring ways to make our services attractive to more riders.
In the past year, SamTrans has embarked on a series of innovative programs and service realignments designed to attract younger customers who we hope will become lifelong patrons of our system. This summer, we offered all-you-can-ride Youth passes for $40, and made them available for purchase online for the first time. By making the passes easy to purchase and promoting them through SamTrans growing social media presence, nearly 20 percent more families took advantage of this opportunity to save a total of $41 per pass.
During the fall, SamTrans partnered with schools and parents to eliminate underperforming routes and instead invested in the addition of four new bus routes that connect neighborhoods with schools, making it easier for families to take advantage of commute alternatives that help reduce congestion during morning and afternoon rush hours.
Finally, we celebrated 40 years of SamTrans bus operations with a series of events, culminating in a public celebration at the San Mateo County Event Center on September 10.
Caltrain made huge progress moving forward with the transformative Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP). In July, the agency’s Board of Directors approved $1.25 billion in contracts related to the PCEP, with the funds being directed toward design and construction of the corridor’s electrification infrastructure and the manufacture of high-performance electric trains.
Additionally, Caltrain approved measures to increase capacity during peak commutes times by adding train cars during morning and evening service, installed tone locator devices at our stations to help the visually-impaired purchase fares and embarked on a study to improve bike parking facilities along the agency’s rail corridor.
Caltrain closed out the year by partnering with Crisis Text Line, a national non-profit organization that offers free, 24/7 anonymous counseling for individuals who may be depressed, having suicidal thoughts or suffering from a mental disorder. Caltrain has installed signage at all stations, and created interior ads and brochures for onboard trains directing distressed individuals to this crucial resource.
The TA continued to oversee its $75.2 million funding allocation toward the Highway 101 interchange at Broadway Avenue in Burlingame, with the revamped throughway set to debut late next year. The agency maintained its regular duties of providing funds for bike and pedestrian projects, transportation improvement projects and support for local shuttle services.
It’s been a busy year and there is no doubt that 2017 will offer more of the same. We’ve got a lot on our plate right now, but it’s an exciting time to be part of the San Mateo County Mateo County Transit District team.