In late August, SamTrans introduced a streamlined and improved El Camino Real service, combining the two mainline routes (390 and 391). The pilot program, which is also being considered to replace weekday service along the corridor, is intended to provide an enhanced. more reliable service and a simplified, more convenient schedule.
And it’s working. Since launching the new weekend service, on-time performance is breaking records on the route and ridership is up more than 2 percent in the two full months since it began operating, which translates into about 2,000 more trips carried by the ECR over September and October.
SamTrans has been telling the board and communities throughout San Mateo County that it would be ‘trying new things’ as part of the SamTrans Service Plan mission to reinvent the service, attract new ridership and better serve those already using the system.
“The success we’re seeing on the new ECR validates our belief that as we transform SamTrans services to reflect the reliability and frequency our riders need, they will come to rely on us more heavily,” said Chuck Harvey, SamTrans’ deputy chief executive officer of operations. “This is an important first step but it’s just a beginning. We realize the demands of job and population growth and the changing commute patterns throughout the county require our continued focus and innovation and that’s what we believe the SamTrans Service Plan proposal will deliver.”
The ECR operates between the Palo Alto Caltrain Station and the Daly City BART Station. The route operates every 20 minutes throughout 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 SamTrans Service Plan process, an 18-month study that has included extensive community outreach and input, looks 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.
Another element of the SamTrans Service Plan 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.