Measure J plans moving toward school bus service | January 11, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - January 11, 2008

Measure J plans moving toward school bus service

Officials currently focusing on who will run the bus service and how

by Jordan M. Doronila

Buses may come rolling in again in the San Ramon Valley to relieve traffic.

Transportation staff from Danville and San Ramon are devising bus routes in heavily congested areas in the Valley, said Tai Williams, Danville transportation services director. She recently presented routing strategies to the Town Council and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

"We are building a program that we hope will have a positive impact," Williams said.

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is looking to spend $40 million over 25 years from Measure J for 19 school buses, which will alleviate traffic in the Valley.

"I think it makes the flow of traffic easier," said Trustee Bill Clarkson, who is on the authority. "It makes it easier for everyone on the road."

So far, the buses will pick up students attending Los Cerros Middle School in Danville and Pine Valley Middle School in San Ramon. They will also pick up students attending Tassajara Hills, Green Valley, Walt Disney and Country Club elementary schools. However, the planning is still in its infancy, said Williams.

These schools are in the most congested areas, Williams said, according to a traffic study. Los Cerros and Green Valley are in the Diablo Road corridor, where drivers and pedestrians face a bombardment of traffic. Tassajara Hills faces congestion from cars flowing from Blackhawk's east gate entrance.

At the Dec. 4 school board meeting, trustees questioned what incentive parents would have to use bus transportation that could take up to an hour.

"If I'm a parent, and I need to get my kid on a bus at 7 to be at school at 8, I'm probably going to form a carpool to get them there," said Trustee Joan Buchanan.

Staff is still developing the bus routes, which need approval from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

Now, transportation officials are deliberating on who will run the bus service and how it will be operated. The plan is scheduled to be finished by late spring.

School buses, which served 270 full-time riders last year, were cancelled by the school board last summer because a small percentage of the district's students were being served. The trustees believed the allocated funds should benefit all students.

The buses served Danville and Alamo students who attended Tassajara Hills, Rancho Romero and Sycamore Valley elementary schools; Stone Valley, Diablo Vista and Charlotte Wood middle schools; and Monte Vista High School.

Measure J was passed in 2004 and is funded by a half-cent sales tax to help alleviate traffic congestion with steps such as building a fourth bore through the Caldecott Tunnel. Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which manages Measure J funds, will receive $1.2 billion over the next 25 years.

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority comprises representatives from 19 cities in Contra Costa County. The San Ramon Valley will get $40 million from the consortium for student transportation to alleviate traffic.

Staffs from Danville, San Ramon, the School District and the county have been working together on the project. There are more than 25,000 students in the district.

The buses will be a boon for drivers, town officials said.

"We can reduce the demand on the roads," Williams said.