This is the first year the Rapid has operated in Pleasanton. To introduce residents along Santa Rita, W Las Positas and Owens to the frequency, premium bus service LAVTA hired the consulting firm Steer Davis Gleave (SDG) to conduct individualized marketing. In short, SDG hired fantastic and trained Travel Advisors to go door-to-door to talk to residents about their travel options on the corridor, including walking and biking trails and the new Rapid service. The Travel Advisors had lots of fun and educational swag that they were anxious to give away. We called the program SmartTrips Pleasanton.
So what were the results? Well, first and foremost, we found a lot of challenges to talking with residents. Many were not interested and a polite “no” was accepted. Others had language barriers we tried to overcome. However, in the end the Travel Advisors spoke with 2,012 households, or about 59% of available households in the program area. 395 households participated in the program of exploring their transportation options and from that group follow-up surveys found that the average number of bus trips increased from .29 trips per person in the week prior to contact being made with them, to 1.5 trips per person in the week prior to the follow-up survey.
The graph below shows the boardings at Owens and Andrews increasing during the SmartTrips Pleasanton program as compared to last year. It’s an example of a neighborhood enjoying the Rapid, especially with its frequent, quick access to the nearby BART station.
There were lots of lessons learned, including the need for more vigorous community outreach ahead of residential visits, providing more incentives for residents to try the Rapid, and improved resources and swag.
When all is said and done it was easy to see the strong results of those that engaged in the SmartTrips Pleasanton program. Individualized marketing is one of the most effective ways to gain long-term customers on the Rapid and the results, however hard to come by, are something to celebrate! Next year we will be introducing SmartTrips Dublin to residents along Dublin Boulevard. I can’t wait.
As the week comes to a close and we move into September there’s excitement at LAVTA for the Wheels bus system and a growing number of projects that are influencing transportation in the Tri-Valley and beyond.
Student Ridership on Wheels Growing – The start of the school year has brought strong student ridership. Dublin High School has nearly doubled its student ridership from last year and the number has continued to grow throughout the last two weeks with the Try Transit promotion in full swing. Additionally, ridership has more than doubled at Las Positas College as the students are enjoying the second full academic year with Rapid service and their Transit Pass, which allows students, faculty and staff to ride the Rapid and the Wheels bus system at no cost. Ridership this week at Las Positas College broke the 600 rides per day barrier. Systemwide Wheels carried more than 7,300 rides on Tuesday, which hasn’t been done in several years.
Senate Approves Shared Autonomous Vehicle Testing Bill – On Thursday the Senate approved AB 1444 (Baker) and sent the bill to the Governor for consideration. The bill paves the way for LAVTA to test shared autonomous vehicles in the City of Dublin. This is an exciting project and will help develop the autonomous vehicle usage in public transportation. Some of the key partners on this project include the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, BART, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, County Connection, Stantec, MV and EasyMile.
Assembly Select Committee on Rail Convenes – On Wednesday, the Assembly Select Committee on Rail met and discussed the multitude of inter-city and commuter rail services ongoing in California. Rail ridership is growing and the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission presented it’s ACE forward efforts to plan for future and expanded rail to the Bay Area. Also discussed by Tim Sbranti, representative for Congressman Eric Swalwell, is the planning work being done by the Alameda – San Joaquin Regional Rail Working Group, which is currently studying the future rail connection of ACE and BART in the Tri-Valley.
Historic Depot Renovation In Progress – In Livermore, the renovation of the Historic Depot at the downtown Wheels Transit Center is in full steam. Currently, the foundation is being constructed. Once completed the Historic Depot will be moved on the foundation and renovated. The City of Livermore is looking to complete the project in early 2018.
Once completed, the Depot will be home for the Wheels customer service team. Once again customers will be able to buy train and other transportation tickets from the Depot. Additionally, the Depot will be the home for a museum of the historic building, as well as a meeting place for public and other meetings.
With the 4th of July tomorrow I couldn’t help but to think about the new Wheels bus design approved by the LAVTA Board last month:
The new design was created by our talented LAVTA Marketing Team in collaboration with Gillig and is similar to the elegance and contemporary looks of the Rapid bus design, with the exception of the traditional patriotic Wheels colors. I think it looks great and does a lot to improve the Wheels image.
Over the next few months we’ll implement the design on more than half the Wheels fleet. The public can also expect updated bus stop signage and a refresh of the Wheels website with updated colors and logos. Until then, enjoy the 4th of July holiday and don’t forget to ride Wheels when traveling to downtown Livermore or the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton for the fireworks.
The other day I had the chance to attend an art shelter dedication at the bus stop on the corner of Vasco Road and Patterson Pass in Livermore. It was a wonderful tribute to the Granada High School Art Class students and their instructor Laura Thournir and the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District. The Mayor, John Marchand, a huge supporter of the arts, attended and led the celebrations.
LAVTA has been sponsoring art shelters in Livermore and Pleasanton for 18 years, starting with the shelter located on Bluebell at Sunflower with it’s lovely sunflowers in full bloom.
The theme for the shelter that was dedicated most recently is titled Hop on the Bus. The artwork follows the style of artist Keith Haring, who was an American artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture. Personally, I like the style of the art…I can’t help day dreaming a bit when I’m looking at the work.
LAVTA began the bus shelter art program in 1999 to discourage vandalism. Through the years these murals have embellished our neighborhoods while providing an opportunity for budding young artists to utilize their creative talents. In addition, each piece offers customers on Wheels a pleasant experience while waiting for the bus. Click here for a page on our website that features a few more art mural shelters in the Wheels system.