Streets around Monte Vista and California high schools will be slightly less congested next fall as the TRAFFIX school bus program makes its way to the upper classes.
Operated jointly by the town of Danville, city of San Ramon, the county and school district with funding from Contra Costa County Measure J, TRAFFIX aims to reduce congestion at some of the Valley's busiest intersections caused by parents driving their children to and from school. Now serving seven middle and elementary schools, officials will begin a one-year pilot program to serve high schools for the 2012-13 school year.
After three years of service, the a technical advisory committee recommended that existing buses be re-routed to Cal and Monte Vista, easing congestion on Broadmoor Drive and Stone Valley Road. After reorganizing a San Ramon route, the committee routed one 50-student bus to each high school. There will be two stops for Monte Vista, one in Blackhawk Plaza and another across the street next to the County Connection stop; MVHS tickets sold out within six hours.
"There's only one way in and out of Monte Vista…and so the pain point for parents driving are much more extreme I think than in areas of San Ramon," said TRAFFIX Program Manager Alex Weis. "There is traffic congestion in San Ramon, but I also think there's some sort of a culture of ridership that has been established in the Danville/Alamo/Diablo area where, in San Ramon, I think there's more of a commute or carpool culture."
Only 47 to 49 students take the County Connection bus home after school and the TRAFFIX bus to Cal High is just 50 percent full, Weis said. With bus stops at Memorial Park, Central Park and the Alcosta senior center, he is sure the bus program will be full after summer registration.
"We figure that there are individuals who have ridden the bus to Pine Valley and are now going to Cal High, and they have established a culture of bus ridership, and we're hoping they continue that," Weis said. "We'll be making a concerted effort at Cal high during registration to target incoming freshman and sophomores who aren't licensed drivers…to show the value in our program in relieving congestion and taking cars off the road."
Although transportation officials at the city of San Ramon did not return calls for comment, Corinne Ferreyra, a program analyst for Danville's transportation and development services, said she has a good feeling about the Monte Vista pilot program.
"With Monte Vista attendance area being so spread out, walking, or biking, isn't necessarily an option for students who live in the Blackhawk area," she said, adding that Stone Valley Road carried 8,614 cars per day in 2010.
Monte Vista and Cal -- along with Pine Valley and Los Cerros middle schools; Country Club, Green Valley, Neil Armstrong, Vista Grande and Walt Disney elementaries -- were chosen as priority one TRAFFIX schools for nearby busy intersections. After the completion of the high school pilot program, the TRAFFIX technical advisory committee will decide whether to continue to serve and/or expand the current routes or begin serving second-priority schools, including San Ramon Valley High and Rancho Romero Elementary School.
An annual TRAFFIX pass costs $275. More information about the program can be found at http://www.ridetraffix.com http://www.ridetraffix.com.