A program designed to reduce traffic congestion around area schools is now actively selling passes and lining up students for their inaugural ride next month.
Danville Transportation Services Director Tai Williams said that while they had all of the pieces in place to get the program moving earlier this year, they had to wait on action by the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in order to start selling the passes to students who'd be riding this year.
At issue were the start and end times for the seven schools that are participating in the initial phase of TRAFFIX. Because there are middle and elementary schools, they had to alter the bell schedules to allow the buses to go out, pick up all of the middle school students, drop them off and then go back out on the route to pick up the elementary students.
"The district had a number of challenges they had to overcome in trying to find a bell time schedule to work with the TRAFFIX program," Williams said.
Schools participating in the student transportation system are:
* Los Cerros Middle School
* Pin Valley Middle School
* Country Club Elementary School
* Green Valley Elementary School
* Neil Armstrong Elementary School
* Vista Grande Elementary School
* Walt Disney Elementary School
Williams said that once the bell schedules were revised they were able to begin selling passes. Currently the passes are being sold at a reduced rate, $200 for the school year. After August 25 the passes will go up in price to $250 per year. She said so far they are seeing strong activity in the sales of the bus passes.
"As of July 1 we were in business. What's exciting is despite the fact that we are in summer now, by the end of the first day we sold about 60 passes and brought in about $12,000," she enthused.
Most recent figures have shown that number to have jumped to $22,000, which Williams said is a very positive response from the community.
Marketing for the new service is expected to be low key, utilizing communication methods available through the school system, such as the Lyris e-mail system, to get the word out to parents at the schools selected for the first phase. She added that they will provide information at school registration and back to school nights in order to keep building up ridership.
Williams said there is no "make or break" number of riders they need for the program, paid for through Measure J funds, but they are hoping to see around 2000 riders signed up for the first year.
"We've planned pretty conservatively, but we're very hopeful that the community will embrace this. The parent contributions would build up and that would allow us to continue to grow this program," she explained.
Parents at the seven schools interested in buying passes for their children can get more information on the program and purchase passes online at www.ridetraffix.com.