FAIRFIELD — Transportation leaders are looking at plans that could shake up the local express bus world.
Seven express route buses travel along the freeways from local cities to such destinations as Sacramento to the east and Bay Area Rapid Transit stations at Walnut Creek and El Cerrito to the west. The service allows commuters to avoid driving.
A study being done for the Solano Transportation Authority examines three options for change. In the wake of a March 12 Solano Transportation Authority board of directors workshop, one option has emerged as a frontrunner.
This option reduces the number of express bus routes from seven to four. Goals include having fewer routes that operate more frequently – every 15 minutes during rush hour – and longer routes connecting more places.
“It’s like a BART system, where it’s always there for you,” Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said Tuesday.
Under the proposal, Route 90 that runs from Suisun City and the Fairfield Transportation Center to the El Cerrito del Norte BART station disappears. Instead, Route 80, which runs from Vallejo to the same destination, extends eastward to also serve Suisun City and Fairfield.
Route 40 linking Vacaville and Fairfield with the Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek BART stations would also change. The Pleasant Hill BART stop would be dropped. A Gold Hill Road stop along Interstate 680 near Cordelia Villages would be added.
Also, Route 40 could run some trips east to Davis.
Another goal is to improve service between Solano Community College’s Fairfield and Vacaville campuses. The proposal establishes a bus station at Suisun Parkway and Kaiser Drive in Fairfield near the college, creating a stop that fits in with the idea of keeping the express buses moving on main roads.
Still another idea is to have express route bus stops within the Interstate 80 freeway right of way, with exclusive areas for buses to slow down, stop and accelerate. This has been done in Seattle and for the El Monte Busway in Los Angeles, a Solano Transportation Authority report said. The idea is to keep buses from spending time traveling on surface streets and stopping at intersections.
Whether such a freeway stop could be created for the Fairfield Transportation Center remains to be seen. The Transportation Center is near the eastbound I-80 offramp for West Texas Street, though buses must presently take surface streets to reach it. Possibly, the center could be reconfigured to handle the buses in a different manner.
Westbound I-80 poses a bigger challenge. The Transportation Center and its parking places border neither westbound lanes nor offramps.
The Solano Transportation Authority has yet to present details of how a freeway stop for the Fairfield center could be accomplished.
“I think it needs a lot of fleshing out,” Fairfield Assistant Public Works Director for Transportation Wayne Lewis said Tuesday.
A proposed timeline calls for changing the express bus routes in about two years. Major capital projects such as a reconfigured West Texas Street offramp are to be completed by July 2019.
Two other express bus service change options exist. One calls for more modest changes and the other is a variation of the so-called “BART-like” trunk system that transportation leaders seem to favor.
The Solano Transportation Authority Technical Advisory Committee is to discuss the issue Wednesday. This meeting of local public works leaders is open to the public and will begin at 1:30 p.m. at One Harbor Center in Suisun City.
If the committee deems the proposals worth further study, it will forward the matter to the Solano Transportation Authority board of directors.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.