Last Monday Unitrans launched their new schedule for the 2010-2011 academic year, including a number of key changes, such as regular Sunday service for the first time ever.
The schedule also added service on the A line, a bus frequented by students needing to get to and from the Amtrak station. This new “A-Limited” will operate during regular service and run between the Silo and downtown Davis, providing more frequent service for the inner portion of the A Line.
These schedule adjustments follow a year of record ridership for Unitrans, explained General Manager Geoff Straw.
“Last year we had the greatest number of riders in a year, reaching a little above 3.5 million, and on some lines we were averaging 70.8 riders per hour,” Straw said.
As a result, many bus lines, particularly the A and J lines, became impacted, requiring Unitrans to send extra busses to prevent delays.
However, the new schedule aims to relieve some of this pressure. With the increased frequency for the A and J lines, as well as minor changes to the timing of the H, L and P lines, Unitrans hopes to minimize crowded rides.
“There would be days where every single seat was taken by the second or third stop, and the rest of the ride would just be a flow of people trying to find a standing spot,” said Michael Bianchi, a recently resigned Unitrans bus driver. “Additional lines will really help spread out the number of riders per bus.”
According to Straw, these new services by Unitrans are being funded through a joint partnership between ASUCD and the city of Davis.
“We had been planning this increase in service for quite some time now,” said Straw. “We took the responsible step of funding it before we dived in.”
For this reason, UC Davis undergraduates will continue to ride free by simply showing their registration cards, and bus fares will remain the same price for everyone else: $1 per ride, $6 for a 10-ride ticket or $25 for a monthly pass.
Unitrans has also purchased 35 new buses through both Federal and State grants, two of which are brand-new double-deckers. This has resulted in the average bus age dropping from 11 years in 2004 to 3 years in 2010.
In addition to the service and bus upgrades, Unitrans has begun expanding its role in the delivery of real-time public transit information system through Nextbus. The Nextbus system, which is also used by San Francisco Municipal Railway and Delaware Resort Transit, combines Global Positioning System (GPS) data with predictive software that gives every passenger, either through the Internet or at the stop, arrival times for the next few vehicles.
Junior Jenn Lee, who regularly commutes to Davis via Amtrak, always dreaded the task of finding a way to campus from the station. She recently began using Nextbus and has found it to be a helpful tool.
“Every time I rode Amtrak I would always be frantically trying to find a friend to give me a ride to class, I even had to call a cab a couple of times,” Lee said. “Now I just text Nextbus and I know exactly when the bus will be pulling up to the station.”
EHSUN FORGHANY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.