http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/08/28/pilot-bus-program-off-to-strong-start


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - August 28, 2009

Pilot bus program off to strong start

Slight delays experienced as buses get rolling

by Geoff Gillette

For the first time in years, students lined up curbside at locations throughout the San Ramon Valley Unified School District waiting for school buses as part of the new Traffix program.

Danville Transportation Director Tai Williams, one of the architects of Traffix, said they were very pleased with the first run of the bus service.

"It was quite an exciting morning," she said. "We had a few hiccups, but this is all part of the first day of operation and despite those hiccups we felt it went very well."

Williams said that students going to Pine Valley Middle School found themselves tardy as a result of unexpected traffic on southbound I-680. She added that now the drivers are aware of what to expect so they can plan accordingly.

"We're making sure all the wrinkles get ironed out and we're going to be making sure the rest of the week goes smoothly," she stated.

Traffix is a program that was created through Measure J funds, designed to reduce traffic congestion around schools. There are a total of seven schools receiving bus service as part of the pilot program.

Officials worked all summer to lay out the routes and run test drives with the brand new school buses. At the same time, they were getting the word out about the program and encouraging parents to purchase their bus passes online. Up until Tuesday, passes cost $200. Once school was under way, the price went up to $250.

Excitement over the new program was high on the first day of school, which may have kept the program from reducing congestion as much as it might have otherwise.

Town Councilwoman Karen Stepper lives near Green Valley Elementary School and said she was surprised to see parents and kids lining up on the street Tuesday morning.

"Every family in my neighborhood has signed up for it. They're all so excited about having the bus and getting their kids to school safely," Stepper said.

She went to the elementary school to watch the buses come in. She added with a laugh that she saw some of the parents arrive at the school just to take pictures of their kids getting off the bus.

Six buses brought students to Green Valley and Stepper said there were quite a number of children getting off the buses.

"I heard one mom say, 'Oh wow, look at the kids get off. That's one less car for each kid,'" she recalled.

Williams was thrilled with the reaction among parents and students.

"I think it's really terrific to hear that the parents were so excited about it," she said.

While the pilot program for Traffix calls for only those seven schools to receive bus service, Williams said the long range plan is to expand with the expectation that as ridership goes up, congestion in those areas will go down.

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