http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/05/29/traffix-program-ready-to-roll


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - May 29, 2009

Traffix program ready to roll

Buses expected to start transporting students in the fall

by Geoff Gillette

A student transportation program designed to help reduce traffic congestion around several area schools is on track for a fall 2009 start, according to Danville transportation officials.

Transportation Services Director Tai Williams gave an update on the Traffix program at the May 18 meeting of the Town Council, and Williams said things are falling into place.

"We've made significant progress. From a planning standpoint it's pretty much wrapped up," she said.

Traffix is a traffic congestion program paid for in large part by Measure J tax funds. Over the last two years, officials have been working to put together the bus program as a means of putting fewer cars on the road.

Initially, seven schools will be participating:

* Los Cerros Middle School

* Green Valley Elementary

* Pine Valley Middle School

* Country Club Elementary

* Walt Disney Elementary

* Limited service will be provided to both Vista Grande and Neil Armstrong Elementary Schools.

Williams said during March they tweaked the routes and took buses out to make sure that drivers would be able to access all of the points along the routes with the large vehicles. It was also during that time that the decision was made to remove Tassajara Hills Elementary from the route and add the limited service area to Vista Grande and Neil Armstrong.

"Tassajara Hills is no longer on the list. Primarily because they can't tier the service between Tassajara Hills and Los Cerros, but also there was a split among parents at the school about accepting the service," Williams said. "There were also some physical challenges with the site as well."

During last week's open houses, students and parents at the affected schools were given a demonstration of the buses and shown what the routes will be. Williams said the feedback was positive.

"Parents were wanting to know when they could start buying the passes and when the buses would be stopping," she explained.

Tickets are expected to go on sale during the summer, but Williams said they are delayed at the moment as they are waiting on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District to respond to a request to alter the bell schedules at the schools in order to allow the buses to have time to deliver the middle schoolers before heading back out to pick up the elementary school students.

"It's a chicken and the egg issue," Williams stated. "We can't set our schedules until we know what the bell schedules are going to be."

Williams said the most expensive part of the program is the bus and the driver, so being able to use the same vehicle and driver at both the middle and elementary locations would make the program more cost effective.

Once they know what the schedules are going to be, Williams said they will take some of the marketing funds from Traffix to get the word out about the bus program and promote sales of the bus passes. She added that she is hopeful that they will be able to have the school district utilize their LYRIS e-mail communication system to inform parents at the seven schools involved that the program is starting up and tickets are available.

Current plans call for the bus system to begin rolling Aug. 25. Passes will be sold through the summer for an introductory rate of $200 per year. After Aug. 25, the fee will increase to $250. Bus service previously provided by the School District cost $400.

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