Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Reimagine SamTrans?
In July 2019, SamTrans launched Reimagine SamTrans, a Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA). COAs are in-depth studies that analyze transit agency services. Reimagine SamTrans will pinpoint the strengths and challenges in the current system while utilizing data and public input to identify ways to improve SamTrans service. Reimagine SamTrans has three goals:
- Improve the experience for existing SamTrans customers
- Grow new and more frequent ridership on SamTrans
- Build SamTrans’ efficiency and effectiveness as a mobility provider
- Why is SamTrans conducting an analysis of its bus system?
Like many other public transit agencies SamTrans ridership is declining. Transit agencies across the country are embarking on comprehensive studies to better address declining ridership, improve the customer experience, and adjust to changing market trends.
In San Mateo County, demographic, growth and technology patterns have changed significantly over the past five years. With new emerging mobility companies proliferating, San Mateo County residents have more options than ever when making a trip. Reimagine SamTrans will make recommendations that allow SamTrans to stay relevant and become a first choice for customers and community members alike.
Finally, with the passage of Measure W in 2018, SamTrans has a unique opportunity to reimagine and reshape its bus system to meet the changing needs of San Mateo County and ensure we are providing the best bus system possible.
- What is the project timeline?
Reimagine SamTrans launched in July 2019 and will require about 18 months to complete.
- Fall 2019: Public outreach; analyze the current state of the SamTrans bus system; conduct market research on what riders and potential riders want out of SamTrans bus service
- Winter 2019-20: Develop a shared vision for the project and guidelines for how SamTrans will design bus service
- Spring 2020: Develop up to three alternative route changes for each route in the system
- Summer 2020: Public outreach; receive input on alternatives for each route and how those routes fit together into one bus system;
- Fall 2020: Public outreach; conduct outreach on a single proposed bus system;
- Winter 2020-21: SamTrans Board adoption of new bus system
- Summer 2021: Implementation of updated bus route network
- What happens when the analysis has been completed?
Following three rounds of public input, a preferred alternative – or new bus system – will be identified. The preferred SamTrans bus system will go to the SamTrans Board of Directors for adoption. Staff will then work toward implementation of the new system while minimizing disruption to service for current customers.
- What data and information will SamTrans use to build a better bus system?
SamTrans will gather information on the specific needs of the customers and communities that we serve, analyze it to find gaps or opportunities in our current system, determine new standards for how we measure the success of the system, and implement new practices to make the system more efficient.
Here are just some of the data and information that will be used in Reimagine SamTrans:
- Public outreach exercises and surveys
- Market research focus groups
- Current SamTrans route information, including ridership, on-time performance, and scheduling practices
- GPS trip data showing trip-making patterns in San Mateo County
- Demographic trends and trips-to-work data from the US Census
- Development patterns and changes
- Recent, complementary planning studies
- Input from SamTrans bus operators, dispatchers and other field staff
Through Reimagine SamTrans, local transit officials, community leaders, bus riders and residents will help build a public transit system for San Mateo County that functions more efficiently and effectively for trips to work, school or play.
- Is Reimagine SamTrans about new riders or current riders?
Reimagine SamTrans seeks to both improve the experience and service we provide to our current customers and attract new riders. SamTrans wants to hear from current riders about how we can improve and from potential riders who can be introduced to our system. SamTrans will accomplish this by studying demographic changes, conducting public outreach, and determining what needs to be improved in order to encourage people to try SamTrans.
- How will Reimagine SamTrans help the environment?
Public transit is a key part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using public transit helps keep cars off the road, resulting in lower emissions. This, coupled with the ongoing electrification of the SamTrans fleet, will help reduce San Mateo County’s carbon footprint and keep SamTrans compliant with state regulations.
- How will Reimagine SamTrans build on other planning studies?
Reimagine SamTrans will utilize data and key findings from recent transportation studies in the area, including the US-101 Express Bus Feasibility Study, Coastside Transit Study, SamTrans Service Plan (2014) and the Caltrain Business Plan. The team will also seek to learn from the work of private partners such as the San Francisco International Airport, among others.
- Who will advise the SamTrans team during the Reimagine SamTrans project?
In addition to conducting three rounds of public outreach throughout the county, SamTrans will convene two advisory groups regularly over the course of the project. The project’s Technical Advisory Committee is comprised of city and county representatives, nearby transit service operators, and other technical advisors. The project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee includes representatives from advocacy and social services, businesses and major employers, active transportation and new mobility companies, and more.
- When can I expect to see improvements to transit service in the county?
SamTrans staff will continue to pilot new services and service improvements while Reimagine SamTrans is ongoing, including new express bus service, as well as make regular updates to schedules to improve the reliability of current routes. You can learn about other SamTrans services at www.samtrans.com.
The recommendations from Reimagine SamTrans are slated to be implemented in 2021.
- Will Reimagine SamTrans result in changes to bus routes and bus stops?
Reimagine SamTrans will evaluate each route individually, as well as the way the routes interact to form a cohesive transportation network. For each route, we will be considering the route’s purpose, the key destinations it serves, the ridership at different points in the route, and the route’s frequency and hours of operation. Based on input from riders and potential riders of the route, we may recommend changes to the route’s design to better meet the route’s purpose. We encourage you to participate in the process, so you have a say about if/when a route is changed.
- Will this lead to fare changes?
No fare changes are anticipated beyond those approved by the SamTrans Board of Directors in August 2019 and slated to take effect throughout 2020. Visit http://www.samtrans.com/fares/farechanges for information.
- Will Reimagine SamTrans improve SamTrans transfer connectivity to adjacent transit services, such as Caltrain and BART?
One of the many goals of Reimagine SamTrans is to improve SamTrans connections with other transit systems. The SamTrans team will be analyzing data and seeking to hear from the community about how they use SamTrans and other nearby transit services and will take these trip patterns into account when designing a new SamTrans bus system.
- Will SamTrans service be affected during the project?
No service interruptions are anticipated in coordination with Reimagine SamTrans project work. However, riders may see SamTrans employees at bus stops doing outreach to inform the process.
- Why should I participate in Reimagine SamTrans?
This project presents a real opportunity to help shape the future bus and mobility network of San Mateo County. Reimagine SamTrans is much like its name suggests – it’s a true reimagining of a bus network that has served an important role in this community but needs a refresh. Re-designing a bus network allows SamTrans to make some choices that will lead the agency into the future. Join us to inform how we make those choices.
- How can I get involved or learn more?
SamTrans welcomes comments throughout the Reimagine SamTrans project via our comment form.
In addition, we invite you to participate through:
- Public outreach and events – We are planning three rounds of community outreach over the course of this project. Event dates will be posted here as they become available.
Have a Question?
Virtual Town Hall
Watch the Virtual Town Hall meeting.
Fall 2019 – Public Presentation
This presentation was given to multiple organizations and used for the Virtual Town Hall. It details the data, market research, and public outreach that will feed into the development of a Service Policy Framework the SamTrans Board will ultimately adopt.
July 2019 – Board Presentation
This presentation was given to the July 2019 SamTrans Board. It goes over the projects scope, timeline, and forms of data that the project will analyze.
March 2019 – Board Retreat Presentation
This presentation was given at the March 2019 SamTrans Board retreat and gives an introduction to how a Comprehensive Operation Analysis (COA) would work and how it fits into the overall objectives of the SamTrans Business Plan.