SPECIAL NOTICE TO SONOMA COUNTY CUSTOMERS

 

Over the last several weeks, we have received two separate petitions from our customers on Route 72 and on Route 74, and have received multiple comments from passengers on other Sonoma County routes. Using various ideas and suggestions from customers, as well as considering the equipment and financial constraints we have, we want to communicate the steps we are taking to address the concerns of our Sonoma County commuter route customers. 

 

RIDERSHIP NUMBERS DETERMINE PRIORITY ASSIGNMENT OF BIG BUSES

MCI Bus   Interior of MCI Bus

In October 2008, the Board of Directors adopted a policy that high capacity 45-foot buses (57 seats) would be assigned to routes/trips which average at least 36 passengers (more than 35 passengers was the actual standard). We began implementing this policy in December, and many trips which previously had large buses did not meet the threshold and were assigned smaller buses. 

To determine bus assignments, the Scheduling Department looks at the most recent eight weeks of data on a weekly basis, adjusts for any seasonality such as holidays or days of the week or unusual circumstances, and then decides if buses are to be reassigned for the following week.

Other considerations have to be made as well.  Sometimes you might see a 45-foot bus on a route that looks like it has fewer than 36 passengers on it. These buses are likely part of a larger “run” (a series of trips served by a single bus or driver during a specified period), and at least one trip in the “run” needs the larger bus because of the average number of customers riding that trip. A “run” might even include trips that serve more than one route. We also have to assign buses so that they end up where we need them for operational reasons such as scheduling of preventive maintenance or where they need to be for service the next day.

NEWEST BUSES TO BE ASSIGNED TO COMMUTE ROUTES ALSO

 

Orion Bus

Because we do not have enough high capacity buses to meet all of our customers’ desires regarding capacity and comfort, we also started using the newest 40-foot buses in our fleet to operate our Sonoma County commuter trips. These newer buses have all forward-facing seats (some customers commented about the side-facing seats), and we have inspected and repaired our fleet to address “loose” seats that were also a source of complaints. We are waiting to hear from our seat manufacturer to learn how we can modify the “flip seats” in our wheelchair locations so that a type of handle or reinforcement can be installed for our customers.  Again, our customers raised this issue, and we are trying to respond.

 

SOME TRIPS WILL BE “GUARANTEED” BIG BUSES

It has been suggested that certain trips always be operated with a large bus as a service “guarantee.” We are looking at this option, but it will take us some time to identify these trips. It is too late to publish these trips in the new Transit Guide, but we will communicate these trips somehow. Passengers should note, however, there may be times when these “guaranteed” trips will have fewer passengers than other buses, because our customers do not always ride the same trip, and it is hard to predict some of these variable patterns. The good news is if a larger bus is more important to you than a specific trip time, you’ll have that information so you can choose your trip. 

 

COMBINING TRIPS AND ROUTES HAS BEEN SUGGESTED

 

Some customers have suggested creating larger park-and-rides near the freeway and combining trips from the various Sonoma County commuter routes in order to increase passenger loads and use fewer buses in service. We are exploring several options regarding this type of improved service efficiency, but these ideas will require some analysis and cannot be accomplished overnight. However, we thank you for suggestions.          

Again, we value your ideas and comments. We are working hard to respond to changing markets and customer needs, but it takes time to put things in place.  We have heard what you’ve been telling us, and even though some of our solutions might not be exactly what you want, we appreciate your patience and hope you understand that we are doing our best with the limitations we have. 

Thank you for riding Golden Gate Transit!