County Connection officials are closing their Transportation Center at Walnut Creek BART as of January 30, and looking to increase fares, cut some services, and realign bus routes in March.
This is according to a press release issued by the county bus agency, which serves 5 million passengers each other.
With regard to the Walnut Creek transportation center, since 1997, it has served as a one-stop facility for bus riders to purchase bus passes, obtain various transportation-related photo ID cards, retrieved lost and found items, and get help with bus trip planning.
County Connection officials say the closure marks the first of several moves aimed at trimming $4 million from the current $29.3 million operating budget.
“The closing of the Transportation Center marks a sad day for the County Connection,” states Gregg Manning, County Connection’s Board Chairman, in the press release. “Since our inception in 1980 County Connection has operated a public information office in Walnut Creek, which is the center of our service area. However, in light of the drastic cuts to transit taking place throughout the state, County Connection is doing everything we can to preserve as much bus service as possible.”
The press release adds that most of the services currently offered at the Transportation Center will be offered at the administrative office in Concord or at various locations throughout the community. These services include:
--Discount Bus Passes - Bus riders have several options for purchasing discount bus passes. County Connection has a network of 27 sales outlets throughout the area, tickets can be purchased on line, of through the U.S. mail.
--Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Cards: Applications are available through the mail by calling (925) 676-7500, and applications will be accepted for processing at the Administrative Office in Concord at 2477 Arnold Industrial Way, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1:30 and 4 p.m. Additionally, staff will schedule standing appointments at Senior Centers, Community Centers, Social Services and other locations that have access by transit.
--Lost and Found: People needing to retrieve items left on the bus will need to do so at the ddministrative office in Concord between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays (excluding the noon to 1 p.m. hour). To retrieve items beyond these hours or on Saturdays require an appointment by calling customer service at (925) 676-7500.
Meanwhile, the entire system will undergo changes, starting March 22. The press release says:
The entire system is being realigned with new bus schedules and a new route numbering system. Weekend services will change so that both Saturday and Sunday service will operate the same. A new fare structure takes effect with increases to both the cash fares and the discount passes. The free mid-day service available to senior and disabled riders with an RTC Discount Card will be eliminated. Seniors and disabled passengers are still eligible to receive discounted fares on fixed-route buses. LINK Paratransit trips will increase to $4 per trip.
“I hope this is enough," says Rick Ramacier, County Connection’s General Manager. “The Governor could still withhold transit funds from the current year budget, and he recommends the complete elimination of the State Transportation Assistance (STA) program funds in 2010. Without a replacement source of operating funds the cuts will continue.”
County Connection is currently in the process of finalizing route maps and re-writing the bus schedules. This information will be available on the agency website as it is finalized.
Information is also available by calling (925) 676-7500.
County Connection operates a fleet of 29-foot, 35-foot, and 40-foot fully accessible fixed-route buses, and a fleet of 63 paratransit vehicles.