San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)

SamTrans Launches Pilot Project to 'Try New Things'

Beginning Sunday, Aug. 26, SamTrans will launch new weekend service on El Camino Real to streamline and improve the rider experience. By combining the two mainline routes (390 and 391) into the new ECR service, riders can expect more reliable service with a single, simplified schedule that is more convenient.

The SamTrans service planning process, an 18-month study, looking at ways the Transit District can better serve new and existing passengers presented three basic directives for improvement: give the riders more of what works, less of what doesn't and try some new things.

Launching the ECR pilot project puts the 'try new things' recommendation to the test by reinventing the weekend service between the Palo Alto Caltrain Station and the Daly City BART Station. The route will operate every 20 minutes through most of the day, serving all of the BART stations, Muni and Caltrain connections along the line. The San Bruno and South San Francisco BART stations are served from El Camino Real, to save travel time for the vast majority of passengers. 

The new route will improve on-time performance. Traffic congestion can cause buses to bunch together and delay the service.  Running just one route along El Camino Real gives SamTrans more flexibility in managing its bus schedules, eliminating a common customer complaint about multiple buses running back-to-back rather than evenly spaced to provide better frequency.

"We know our customer's travel habits and needs are changing," said Chester Patton III, director of bus transportation for SamTrans. "The new ECR service is just the first step in evolving our service to meet those needs."

Another element of the SamTrans' service proposal suggests that putting more service where the riders want to go will help the agency respond to changing travel patterns throughout the county. The ECR design doubles up on service frequency between Redwood City and Palo Alto, as well as providing increased frequency to Evergreen and Mission, and Daly City BART.   

The new route will be carefully monitored and, if it is successful, the service could be expanded to weekdays.

Routes 390 and 391 are two of SamTrans' most heavily used routes, serving an average of 12,950 riders on weekends. By making these service improvements SamTrans expects to continue to grow its ridership on one of the system's core routes.

For help with trip planning on SamTrans, call 1-800-660-4287 or visit the website at