Thursday, August 12, 2010

SamTrans following suit on COA

Following the footsteps VTA took a few years ago, SamTrans is now working a COA. In addition to finding ways to improve the bus system, the agency is hoping the COA would help improve SamTrans' financial stability. Because of the economic crisis and reduction of state transit funding, SamTrans has already eliminated most express bus routes. SamTrans' trouble is also affecting Caltrain, as the agency plans to eliminate operating subsidies (the remaining San Mateo County subsidy would only come from the 2004 Measure A sales tax) the next fiscal year.

Although San Mateo County is located adjacent to Santa Clara County, SamTrans environment is vastly different from VTA. SamTrans primarily serves a narrow corridor centered on El Camino Real. Being a smaller county, SamTrans only collects a fraction of the sales tax revenue that VTA receives, yet SamTrans provides financial support for two regional rail systems.

One of the possibilities for SamTrans is to provide deviated fixed route service. Under ADA, transit agencies are required to provide door-to-door paratransit service for disabled riders who cannot use regular transit. With deviated fixed route service, the bus would stay on a regular route to serve all riders and go off route to pick up and drop off qualified disabled riders. It would help meet the ADA mandate without providing segregated service. The bus agency in San Joaquin County currently provides such service and it is helping the agency to control cost on disabled service.

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