Reimagine SamTrans comments

Every decade or so many transit agencies re-evaluate its routes. SamTrans is no exception. This time, many transit agencies carry the theme of frequency vs. coverage, which is promoted by a well known transit consultant Jarrett Walker. SamTrans is offering 3 alternatives with one heavily favors improving frequency, one promoting coverage, and one in between favoring connections. Despite offering 3 alternatives, SamTrans staff emphasize that the recommend plan would be a combination of the 3, after considering public feedback.

Coming off of this COVID-19 pandemic, I hope that transit agencies would focus on services that better facilitate “essential” trips, along with school trips as campuses reopen.

Frequency vs. coverage was also one of themes for the last service plan SamTrans implemented. Some of the service added to improve frequency ended up taken away when ridership increases didn’t pan out. The lesson appears that it is faster to lose ridership but slower to grow. Transit agencies should do more to preserve riders.

I am not in favor of implementing ECR Rapid and EPX routes. They were given a trial run (2018-2019 for ECR Rapid and 2004-2007 for EPX, which were known as REX) and both had low ridership. I support the alternative of improved ECR route with reduced stops.

The EPX lacks constituency and while being a long route it has few strong employment destinations with traditional commute periods. There are limited opportunities for single ride trips. Commuters have better alternatives such as Caltrain to access San Francisco.

I fully support continuation and expansion of route FCX. It has a constituency and a competitive commute market for a single ride service.

For routes 112 and 140, I think it is essential to preserve connections from Pacifica to Skyline College and to Serramonte Shopping Center. Pacifica-Serramonte connection would be lost under Alt 3 and Pacifica-Skyline connection would be lost under Alt 1. In Alt 3, line 140 and 121 would duplicate service on Skyline Blvd.

I believe that routes 112 and 140 could be combined to preserve the connections I mentioned. At Skyline College, route 140 would continue west to Pacifica via Sharp Park, then resume the existing 112 alignment to Serramonte. Only a pair of stops would lose service completely on Monterey Road. This alignment should provide better and more direct service from Pacifica to Skyline College.

Route 120 should maintain its current alignment. (Alt 2)

Support recommendation under Alt 2 to shorten route 121 and implement 124. If 124 is implemented, use the 121 alignment south of Serramonte.

Route 122 should maintain its current alignment.

Route 130 should maintain its current alignment.

Support recommendation under Alt 3 for the eastern segment of route 140 to combine with 141. See above for suggestion of the western segment of route 140 to combine with 112.

For route 250, it should take the proposed 249 alignment and extend it from Downtown San Mateo to College of San Mateo, along with eliminating the segment beyond Hillsdale Mall.

Support the Alt 3 proposal for route 256 and on-demand service in Foster City. I suggest a slight change of route 256 to use Metro Center Blvd to Edgewater, then Hillsdale (instead of Foster City Blvd) to better serve the high density apartment complexes.

Routes 274, 275, and 278 can be optimized so that 274 can be offered during peak school times for faster service. Other non peak times CaƱada College service should be provided via 278 which serves 275 stops.

For route 295, it should use the existing route 250 alignment from Hillsdale to College of San Mateo, or a modified alignment via Hillsdale west of Alameda de Las Pulgas, given that the route 250 would use the 249 alignment instead. This would provide direct service to CSM from Belmont and San Carlos, partially replacing the route 260 service to CSM.

I like the concept for route 260 in Alt 1. Rather than having route 261 in Alt 1 to go to Crystal Springs Shopping Center, the route should focus on Ralston between the apartment complexes near Continentals Way and Carlmont Drive. That route should extend to Hillsdale via Old County Road. There are several apartment complexes on Old County Road that are located quite far away from existing ECR stops, as there are no crossing of any sort between 42nd and Ralston avenues.

Another idea is to have route 295 continue from San Carlos to Redwood Shores serving the route 260 alignment under Alt 1. The 295 would continue south of El Camino to Brittan, Brittan to Industrial, and Industrial to Holly and across 101. Alternatively, the 295 could continue south on Cedar (no longer going to El Camino), Cedar to Brittan, Brittan to Old County Road, and Old County to East San Carlos Avenue. There’s no bus stop for the route 260 west of 101 (south of Belmont) other than San Carlos Caltrain. Any of the suggestion should provide at least 1 pair of bus stops on Industrial. It would also provide direct service between Redwood Shores and Carlmont High School, even though it would no longer be on Ralston.

If route 295 were extended north and south to cover 250 and 260, service should be expanded to include Saturdays.

I am concerned about loss of service to the trailer parks on the east side of 101 in Redwood City. Unfortunately serving that area requires a loop alignment for route 270 which is less productive. I do support the concept of extending route 270 further to the south. I would go beyond the Menlo Park VA to somewhere near Four Seasons following an alignment similar to school route 81 to cover the apartment complexes and areas currently served by route 280. This would avoid having to cross over Hwy 101 on streets that connect with the Dumbarton Bridge.

If that area west of Hwy 101 by the Four Seasons is served by an extended 270, the route 280 can be discontinued and the on-demand service can stay entirely on the east side of 101 at least during commute hours when roads are congested. There are two bike/ped bridges over the freeway that is not subject to commute traffic congestion.

I do not support eliminating 292 service to San Francisco, as it serves essential workers living in SF and working in the South San Francisco/SFO areas. I however do support breaking 292 into two separate routes for better vehicle allocation and on-time performance. Unlike the original recommendation where both routes connect and terminate at Millbrae, I suggest terminating the 292 from San Francisco at Millbrae and terminating 293 from San Mateo in San Bruno. Riders can transfer between both routes at SFO. This option would preserve direct access to SFO from either SF or San Mateo. I’ve seen flight attendants in full uniform using taking the 292 and 398 to apartments in Burlingame and San Bruno. Since routes 398 and SFO are considered for discontinuation, this 292/293 arrangement would preserve service to San Bruno and Millbrae BART stations from SFO. This arrangement better serves all airport workers by providing better frequency (compared to hourly service on 398) and improved bus to bus connections without having to rely on BART with its separate fares and airport surcharge.

For route 296, I would support maintaining current alignment even with on demand service for East Palo Alto. Route 296 provides connections to high schools for the East Palo Alto/North Menlo Park communities and on-demand service is not suitable for that role.