On June 25, San Joaquin Regional Transit District started daily van rides to the city of Tracy and San Joaquin Delta College’s Mountain House campus, and plans are forming for a second route to Dublin’s BART station.
Although few residents are taking advantage of the Rural Connection route from Mountain House to Tracy, RTD spokesman Paul Rapp said the bus district is optimistic the numbers will go up.
“We’re averaging about four passengers per day,” he said, “with a high of seven on one day. That’s pretty good ridership for a brand new route with limited service.”
Rapp said the plan is to market the service through promotions on the Mountain House Forum website. He anticipates more riders will get on board when students return to attend Delta’s fall classes in August.
The Mountain House route is part of a two-year Rural Connection pilot that costs $434,000, paid for by RTD and a Caltrans grant, Rapp said.
The new bus route takes riders from Wicklund Crossing near DeAnza Boulevard in Mountain House to stops at Walmart on Grant Line Road, the Park & Ride lot at Naglee Road and Delta’s Mountain House campus. It connects with other RTD buses at Walmart and Park & Ride.
Bernice King Tingle, the president of the Mountain House Community Service District board of directors, said she dreamed about such a service when she ran for office nearly a decade ago.
“I think it’s really wonderful,” she said. “That’s what I was hoping for — (a) transportation link from Mountain House to Tracy and outlying areas.”
Schedules for the route, which runs between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., are on the county RTD website at www.sanjoaquinrtd.com/mobility.
As the route is new and the bus stop is nothing more than a parking area off Wicklund Crossing, RTD officials are looking into moving the stop to Wicklund Elementary School. Rapp said they are working with community leaders to shape the service to the needs of the community, and the school has bicycle-parking space and other amenities.
The cost of a single ride is $1.50, with a special rate of 75 cents for riders age 65 and older, Medicare cardholders and Certificate of Eligibility cardholders. Children younger than 5 ride free with an adult. Students can pay $40 for a 31-day pass.
Now that RTD has one bus route in place, plans are developing to offer rides to the Dublin-Pleasanton BART station as soon as next month, Rapp said.
On July 5, 25 residents attended a public meeting that RTD hosted in the Wicklund Elementary School multipurpose room.
“The feedback I get is that people are hoping for that second link,” Tingle said. “I think it’s absolutely wonderful, a gateway here that allows commuters’ access to Pleasanton-Dublin.”
She said residents were pleased that bus officials gave them the opportunity to voice their approval.
The one uncertainty holding back the BART route is whether there would be enough riders to cover the route’s costs, Rapp said. Each bus holds 50 passengers.
RTD plans to offer an introductory rate of $96 per month for the first three months. After that, monthly passes could cost more or less. If the route drew 30 regular riders, for example, RTD might charge $128 per person to cover the $3,825 cost of the service, he said.
The Mountain House-to-BART route is tentatively slated to start Aug. 1, according to Rapp. He said officials might test the route for the first month or half a month to see if there’s enough interest among Mountain House residents.
RTD is seeking ridership comments by email at comments@sanjoaquinRTD.com.