The buses on El Camino Real could be speeding up in the future as SamTrans is considering implementing a Bus Rapid Transit service between the Daly City and Palo Alto transit centers.
It will spend the next 16 months conducting a phasing study to determine how to upgrade its riders’ commute. BRT is an enhanced service that typically includes shorter travels times through fewer stops and improved amenities, according to Christine Dunn, public information officer for SamTrans, Caltrain and Transit Authority.
BRT may include limited or skip-stop service, bus signal priority, low-floor or multiple door buses and off board fare collection, according to the SamTrans website. BRT enhances stations and bus stops with more weather protection and will be designated with unique logos, Dunn said.
“The idea is it’s supposed to give you an experience more like traveling on a light rail line. So even though you’re on a bus, you have some of the benefits … which include a faster and more comfortable trip,” Dunn said.
There are two different ways to implement BRT that are differentiated by the level of investment and practicality. Full BRT requires more funding and a dedicated bus lane; a less intensive version incorporates regular automobile traffic, Dunn said.
Before it can determine which level of BRT to go with, SamTrans will conduct a thorough analysis of the area and the market. Dedicating a bus lane on the already crowded El Camino Real does not seem realistic at this point. Even without taking over a full lane, BRT is still viable for the county, Dunn said.
“In order for BRT to be successful you need to be in a city with a main arterial, like El Camino Real in San Mateo,” Dunn said.
About 11,450 people ride the main El Camino Real bus every workday and the total ridership of Sept. was 303,809, Dunn wrote in an email. SamTrans will be conducting a demand analysis to determine where and when along El Camino Real the buses are used the most.
Two workshops will be held on Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 and the public is encouraged to come and share their thoughts, ideas and needs for better public transportation in the area, Dunn said.
The study will also look at housing density in the surrounding areas, where the most employment centers are located and what regions are projected to experience higher levels of population growth, Dunn said.
SamTrans will continue to develop its study while it presents it at San Mateo, Belmont, South San Francisco, Atherton and Colma city council meetings. It will also need to establish a short-term and long-term implementation plan, Dunn said. BRT has been successful in Alameda County and SamTrans hopes to follow the trend, she added.
“The primary goal of the project is to increase ridership,” Dunn said. “We want to be able to attract new customership and we want to be able to do that by giving them an improved passenger experience.”
The public workshops will be held 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at the SamTrans Administration Office, Second Floor Auditorium at 1250 San Carlos Ave., and 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at the South San Francisco Municipal Services Building Council Chambers on 33 Arroyo Drive, South San Francisco.
For more information about the SamTrans BRT phasing study BRT visit www.samtrans.com/BRT
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106