The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), which operates Wheels and Rapid bus services in the Tri-Valley, has been honored for its accomplishments over the past year as the California Transit Agency of the Year for 2018.
The award, which is given to a transit agency that has demonstrated system improvement in areas such as ridership, customer service, service expansion and financial management, was announced Thursday at the Small Operators Awards ceremony during the California Transit Association's annual fall conference.
The award acknowledges a variety of achievements for LAVTA during the previous year, including refocusing resources on more productive services, increasing ridership by over 7% and launching a shared autonomous vehicle project.
Pleasanton City Councilwoman Karla Brown, who served as LAVTA board chair during the 2017-18 fiscal year, credited the commitment of executive director Michael Tree and his administrative staff for LAVTA earning the Transit Agency of the Year recognition.
"Together with the Board of Directors, they have converted a struggling older bus company into an industry leader, with fresh ideas and the execution of new operational plans," Brown told the Weekly.
"We have removed most of our older buses from the road, and replaced them with new hybrids that were built locally," she said. "Through hard work, LAVTA has increased ridership of our residents, middle and high school students, college students, plus BART and ACE riders."
"The next step is to complete testing of a small self-driven bus called an SAV, then put it into use in the Tri-Valley," added Brown, who represents city of Pleasanton on the authority's board along with Councilman Jerry Pentin.
A joint powers authority among the cities of Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore and Alameda County to fulfill the Tri-Valley's transit needs, LAVTA serves nearly 2 million passengers per year on its Wheels bus and paratransit services.
Its focus also includes promoting environmental sustainability by reducing vehicle trips and traffic congestion on local streets and improving air quality in the region.
"It's amazing that so much was accomplished with such a lean, well-run organization, comprised of a 14-person staff and a seven-member Board of Directors. We have much to be proud of," said Dublin Mayor David Haubert, LAVTA's 2018-19 board vice chair.
LAVTA officials pointed to eight key recent accomplishments that led to the Transit Agency of the Year award:
* A major service restructuring that refocused resources on more productive services with improved access to BART, ACE Train and Las Positas College (LPC).
* A ridership increase of 7.2% in 2017-18 compared to the prior year.
* The successful passage of a student mobility initiative at LPC in Livermore to fund unlimited access transit passes for all LPC students.
* Launching a shared autonomous vehicle project in proximity to the east Dublin-Pleasanton BART station to help provide first- and last-mile connections with BART.
* Serving as executive and administrative support for the newly formed Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority (Valley Link).
* Partnering with the city of Livermore to relocate and rehabilitate the Southern Pacific Railroad's historic train depot for use as LAVTA's Livermore Transit Center sales and operations building.
* Refreshing the Wheels brand with a new vehicle design and logo that is complementary to the agency's Rapid buses.
* Initiating Go Dublin, an on-demand real-time mobility alternative for Dublin residents utilizing a unique partnership with Uber and Lyft.