The Rapid, a new service of the Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), which operates the Wheels bus service in the Tri-Valley, will go into service Monday. It will feature 14 new low-emission hybrid buses with lower floors than on conventional buses and with special, distinctive paint that makes them distinguishable from Wheels buses.
The Rapid will operate from the new West Pleasanton/Dublin BART station that will open next month to the Sandia and Livermore national laboratories in east Livermore with limited stops along Dublin Boulevard and other streets.
Although the Rapid will stop at the Stoneridge Shopping Center and the Kaiser Permanente clinic in Pleasanton, its earlier planned route to downtown Pleasanton was scuttled after residents along Old Stanley Boulevard objected to turning their street into a bus route. LAVTA representatives had worked with the Pleasanton Downtown Association to use Stanley with a bus stop and weather-protected station next to the Wells Fargo Bank at Old Stanley and Santa Rita Road/Main Street.
Pleasanton officials told LAVTA that because of the neighborhood's concerns, they would not approve the proposed stop. They suggested instead that the Rapid use Stanley to First Street, turning at Neal, a route long used by Wheels buses. LAVTA rejected that proposed route as too time-consuming for its commuters and took Pleasanton out of its routing schedule.
Congressmen Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) and John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) told the Jan. 13 gathering at the Shrine Event Center in Livermore that they helped secure $11 million in federal funds to pay for the $14 million start-up costs of the new Rapid service.
Funding for the project also was provided with $1.3 million from local sales taxes, $1.1 million from State Proposition 1B, and $450,000 from Transportation Funds for Clean Air.
"Today is a great day for Livermore, a great day for area residents who use public transit, and a great day for every Californian that wants to see jobs come back to our state," Garamendi said. "I want to commend all the local and federal officials who made this day possible."
"I'm thrilled to mark the start of bus rapid transit service in the Tri-Valley," he said. "This service will provide the residents of our area with the option of using public transportation that has more frequent service, quick travel time, and stops at places such as BART and the Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories."
"Bus rapid transit service will also help decrease traffic along I-580 and improve air quality in our community," he added. "I'm glad to have helped secure funding for this important project."
The 14 new hybrid electric, ultra-low emission buses were manufactured by Gillig in Hayward. Each uses advanced technology to speed up travel time along the 14-mile route. A signal priority system will extend the green light at intersections and special bus queue jump lanes at targeted intersections will allow the Rapid buses to bypass traffic. Buses will be scheduled to arrive every 10 minutes during peak travel times.
LAVTA representatives said the new Rapid will shave 10 minutes off the current Wheels bus trip from the Pleasanton/Dublin BART station to downtown Livermore, from the current 37 minutes to 27 minutes.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Mayor Marshall Kamena of Livermore and Mayor Tim Sbranti of Dublin also joined in the celebration. Pleasanton was represented by City Council members Cindy McGovern and Jerry Thorne.
"The Rapid is the latest example of LAVTA's commitment to adopt cutting-edge transportation technology to deal with the area's traffic gridlock challenges and air quality concerns," Haggerty said.
The service is projected to cost approximately $1.9 million to operate per year. Operating revenues are projected to come from Regional Measure 2 (bridge tolls), Measure B (Alameda County sales tax), and passenger fares.
For more info on the new bus service, visit www.trivalleyrapid.com.