Sunday, August 05, 2007

The end of New Century DASH and more

Friday was the last day of the New Century operation of the DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle) in Downtown San Jose. On Monday August 5, VTA will take over the operation of the DASH, using the same type of bus already used on the Los Gatos and south county community bus routes. VTA is taking over the DASH per agreements with the unions that has added new job titles to operate and maintain community buses with lower pay.

The Great America and River Oaks shuttles have been converted to in-house operation in July. However, DASH was scheduled to be converted later due to the lack of buses at that time, as well as to provide a new paint job for the new buses.New Century became the DASH operator in 2002 as a new contractor. Before that time, Laidlaw was the contract operator and ran white shuttle buses.

COA tradeoffs

While the revised COA restored service to many outlaying communities, there's some tradeoffs. Some routes were originally planned to have expanded service were no longer so.

  1. Line 11 was originally to have hourly service on Sundays, there will be no Sunday service on the revised plan.
  2. Line 13 was originally to operate every 30 minutes throughout the day, but will only every 30 minutes during peak hours and hourly midday, along with a shorter operating hours, under the revised plan.
  3. A new line 43 was originally planned to provide service between Alum Rock light rail and Eastridge whenever the line 522 is not in service everyday until 10:00pm (9:00pm Sundays). Under the revised plan, this line will only operate on Sundays (the only day when line 522 is not in operation) until 6:30pm. Under the revised plan, the only way to travel from Alum Rock light rail to Eastridge is to take line 23 or 25 to Jackson and transfer to line 70. Another alternative is to transfer to line 70 at Hostetter station or at the Great Mall. (so what is the point of having light rail extended to Alum Rock?)
  4. Lines 72 and 73 were originally planned to run every 15 minutes on Saturday, but with the revised plan both lines will remain operating every 30 minutes.
  5. Line 82 will end service sooner with the revised plan than with the original plan.
  6. Line 180 was originally planned to run every 20 minutes on weekends, thereby meeting every Richmond-Fremont train, but with the revised plan the line will remain operating every 30 minutes.


Next Wednesday, a new competitor will join Greyhound, California Shuttle bus, and two other Chinatown operators to provide intercity bus service to Los Angeles.

MegaBus is a brand originated from Britain as a low fare intercity bus operator. The parent company, Stagecoach, brought the brand into the US a few years ago and began operation in Ohio area.

Unlike other Greyhound and other operators, MegaBus will only stop at major transit centers. In San Francisco, it will stop at the 4th & King Caltrain station. In Oakland, it will stop at West Oakland BART station. In San Jose, it will stop at San Jose Diridon Station. In Los Angeles, it will stop at the Union Station. Although tickets won't be sold there, the major advantage is easy connections to various transit lines, and LA Union Station is a much more preferable stop than the LA Greyhound station located in Skid Row.

Although Rod Diridon, speaking as the executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, questions the profitability of both Megabus and Greyhound, there is a lack of intercity bus competition compared to the East Coast. In the East Coast, travelers between Washington DC and New York City have far more options besides the airlines, the pricey Amtrak Acela, and Greyhound. Chinatown buses (with various operators) are charging $20 one way and $35 roundtrip. They are well used and operate throughout the day.

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