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SamTrans Service Cuts: DX Express Bus Hit

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SamTrans staff has prepared a revised bus service proposal that eliminates most express service to San Francisco and preserves essential service for riders who have no other alternative. The Board of Directors accepted most of the proposal at its Sept. 9 board meeting. The changes, the most drastic in the agency’s 33-year history, come as the Transit District is facing a $28.4 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1. Proposals for service reductions of up to 15 percent and a fare increase were presented to the public at four community meetings and a public hearing. The revised proposal will reduce service about 7.5 percent and result in cost savings of more than $6.3 million annually. The service reductions will result in layoffs of operations and administrative personnel. Less than 3 percent of current SamTrans weekday riders will be impacted by the changes. An estimated $1 million would be generated by the fare increase proposal. More than 800 people submitted comments, either at the meetings, by telephone, in letters or by e-mail. The comments also included three petitions. The comments from the public influenced the decision to base the proposal on a key principle from the Transit District’s Strategic Plan: “Sustain basic mobility service for transit-dependent and low-income persons.”  
 
“We have a responsibility to those for whom we are their only means of mobility— people who depend on us to get them to their jobs, to school, to the doctor’s office and to the grocery store,” said Deputy CEO Chuck Harvey. The service proposal does not anticipate any changes to the District’s Redi-Wheels service. Many comments expressing support for express service to San Francisco were received. But these routes provide service that, while not as direct, is duplicated by Caltrain or BART. Route CX, which connects Pacifica with the Colma BART Station, will be retained and renamed Route 118, but Route DX between Pacifica and San Francisco will be eliminated. The service changes will be effective Dec. 20.
Another local change is on Route 14 (Linda Mar, Oddstad Park, Casa Pacific): Operate service in clockwise direction only before 7 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

Bus Fare Increase – effective February 1, 2010

o       25 cent increase to adult local cash fare
o
      50 cent increase to adult fare – out of SF and express
o
      25 cent increase to youth cash fare
o
      Corresponding increases to passes and eligible discount fares

  • Paratransit Fare Increase

o       50 cent increase effective July 1, 2010
o       25 cent increase effective July 1, 2011

  • Agency-sponsored Paratransit Fare Increase

o       20 percent increase effective July 1, 2010

  • Eliminate 15 percent discount on SamTrans Monthly Pass with purchase of Muni sticker




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The proposed cuts were finalized yesterday in a unanimous vote by Samtrans BOD.

The CX was retained which is great - I'm glad Pacifica still has a transit option, albeit a longer one, to SF - but unfortunately will not work for me (and I suspect others as well).

So come winter, when the weather and lack of daylight no longer permit me a safe commute by bike, there will be one more car contributing to the congestion of the Pacifica/SF commute. Bummer.

SamTrans claims this is a service reduction of 7.5%, and will allegedly affect less than 3% of weekday riders.

According to 2008 ridership figures:
DX: 62,405
CX: 42,260
14: 10,993

So how does SamTrans figure that completely eliminating the most popular route in Pacifica constitutes cutting our bus service by 7.5% and affects "less than 3%" of weekday riders?

Is that because they assume everybody who took the DX will just take the CX instead? Because that's ridiculous.

I have to say, it looks like the Coastside took far more than its fair share of the cuts.

As an El Granada resident who relied on the DX and parked at Linda Mar, I am sad to see it go. And no, I will not take advantage of the CX. When combined with BART, the trip becomes both too expensive and too long and inconvenient to be worth the small savings in driving time and gas. It's hard to remain committed to public transit when the options are so few and so inefficient.

I will be among those who stop using Samtrans and drive to BART or all the way to SF for work if there is no DX.

I am happy they preserved the coastal bus route in HMB--I don't use it but I see how essential it is for some folks. But couldn't Samtrans at least try reducing the number of DX buses before eliminating it altogether? Maybe the CX would be a better candidate for elimination.

Thanks for the due diligence, Mary Ann, and for sharing your info and opinions with all our readers. This is what good government is all about.

I have always wondered why SamTrans operates full-size buses on suburban routes like ours. Why don't they use smaller buses to save money here on the coast, where ridership is smaller?

Thanks for clearing up the definition in this case of "income." Since I was speaking of the fare box recovery ratio, I assumed everyone would know. In this case, revenue is a better word. Thank you, Peter, for clarifying. And no, SamTrans would not know the income of their riders. The ratio involved revenue, ridership, and mileage, plus a few other factors such as the alternative forms of transportation available in certain areas. This ratio reflects current legislation. SamTrans must attain federal and state recovery ratio standards to be able to meet requirements for subsidies from those sources. Those subsidies are quite large.

In Pacifica, we stood to lose the 17, 14, CX, and DX. Many people fought long and hard getting your concerns heard. We truly challenged SamTrans staff to get creative. Some of the very ideas you have suggested here were put forward. Personally, I think buses should be more frequent, not less. We should make transportation so convenient that it gets people out of their cars, but I am not in charge here, nor do I control state and federal regulations.

We prevailed in many areas, but sadly not all. As a City Council member, I ardently represented my community. But I am only one voice, and influence is much more powerful when there are larger numbers. With many people's help, we pulled out all the stops. I am deeply grateful, and extend my thanks to all who helped.

Have a safe weekend.

Mary Ann

From the comments on the service cuts from SamTrans itself, I believe they actually are referring to the income of the riders as well, since they in effect say they are more concerned about lower-income residents still having service. But even if they are talking about the income on the box, we're paying $4.50 per trip on the DX, or $144 for the monthly pass, so I'm not sure how the income in the fare box per trip would be anything but their highest revenue bus line.

My point is that their first step should be reducing it to two runs in the morning and two in the afternoon, not outright elimination. That is literally throwing away money on their part, which defeats the whole point of the process.

I don't understand why SamTrans can't combine the CX/DX routes, which essentially have all the same stops before arriving at BART.

I've talked to a few people recently. Comments have been that they'll drive directly to BART, or just drive a bit further and park in SF.

I think by "income" she means fare box revenue.

Mary Ann,

I am at a loss as to how SamTrans knows the income of the express riders. As an express rider myself, I am surprised to learn that I must be making more money than I am aware of, and I have certainly never been asked about my income. I also can't understand how, if the riders are in fact wealthier, SamTrans would not even test out charging more to those riders before eliminating the line completely.

Bottom line, if SamTrans says these decisions are required to help the bottom line, why would they actively cut a dedicated ridership that they claim has more money to spend? That's ludicrous. It's a completely irresponsible decision. Everyone talks about how we should put less cars on the road for the environment and other reasons, then when we try to do just that, we get punished for it. SamTrans should be ashamed of themselves. After my final DX ride, I hope I never give them another dollar as long as I live in the area.

I wonder if that $2.1 million Mori Point is getting for a trail would be better spent on SamTrans.

Thank you, everyone! The emails, phone calls, petitions, and letters really made the difference. SamTrans staff relayed that they received tons of input from Pacifica. You all rock and you saved most of our service. Jerry Hill helped us as well, so when you see him next, give him a big thanks, too.

If any of you want to talk about the DX, I am sad we lost the route to downtown, but I can tell you what I learned. It involves a complex formula/balance between ridership, income, and mileage, and must meet certain standards for state and federal monetary support. In the meantime, I am happy that service is still available to those who need it.
Let us count our blessings,
Mary Ann

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