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article imageEl Camino Real now has a bus to call its own Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 24, 2013 in Lifestyle
San Carlos - One of the oldest roads in the nation, the El Camino Real, which dates back to the late 1700's when Spanish explorers traversed up and down California, now has a bus all its own.
The new ECR route for SamTrans made its debut along El Camino Real on August 12. While the new route only covers San Mateo County and not the entire span of the old "Kings Highway," commuters and bus-riders are pleased.
Speaking on behalf of the local transit agency which serves all of San Mateo County, public information officer Christine Dunn said "passengers don't have to carry a bus schedule (anymore). Because, the bus will arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays, (every 20 minutes on weekends) and it will be the right one."
The Peninsula Progress called SamTrans to inquire about the results of the new ECR route. When speaking to this reporter while on assignment for the Peninsula Progress, Dunn said that when she and transit officials were out and about to see how the people were responding to the new route-system, that Monday. "People were well aware and seemed pleased with the new system." SamTrans has been announcing the changes for months and worked diligently to prepare riders for the changes.
The San Bruno Patch reported that, San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom had the honor of officially changing the head-sign on a SamTrans bus to read "ECR" when a commemorating launch celebration was held on August 16 at the Transit Center in Redwood City. The ECR route replaces the 390 and 391 bus routes that traveled along El Camino Real. "The two bus lines were a point of confusion for some riders," she said. Dunn explained that riders were often perplexed by the two buses. "One would go into the City, the other did not. One would go all the way to Palo Alto, the other did not; and drivers/operators also had problems timing the two buses," she said.
Now with the 390 and the 391 combined into one route called the ECR (El Camino Real) passengers are much better served. This one route allows for more flexibility. While the new ECR will not go into San Francisco; to get to The City, passengers can still take the 292 line, or transfer to Caltrain, Muni or BART to complete their trips.
Dunn also pointed out that with the debut of the ECR, SamTrans service will continue to improve.
"The ECR is part of an extensive overhaul of the entire SamTrans system," said Dunn. Referred to officially as the SamTrans Service Plan, the transit system which stretches from Daly City to Palo Alto and over to the Coastside is working to revamp its outreach." Over the past two years SamTrans held over 40 community meetings, collected data and input from customers and residents from all over the county," she said. Feedback on the changes was gathered from more than 1,800 stakeholders.
This route renovation is the first major service upgrade in more than a decade. The SamTrans Service Plan (SSP), is an initiative carried out by the San Mateo County Transit District to reinvent the bus system.
"SamTrans’ new ECR service achieves two important goals: improving the riding experience for current customers and providing a new service we believe will help increase rider ship," said Chuck Harvey, SamTrans deputy CEO of Operations, Construction and Engineering. "This new route line is a proven success on the weekends, showing consistent ridership growth each month. This new ECR route service is one of the key improvements to come out of the SamTrans Service Plan," he said.
Since 1976 SamTrans has been serving the residents and commuters of San Mateo County and adjacent parts of San Francisco and Santa Clara. With the establishment of the new Service Plan, SamTrans consolidated service provided by 11 different cities.
As one of the most-busiest transportation corridors of the Bay Area, the service SamTrans provides along El Camino Real is vital. SamTrans connects residents and commuters to San Francisco and to Santa Clara County, which includes, of course, the ever-expanding Silicon Valley.
Even with the ever-present preference for cars as a major mode of transportation by Americans, "most SamTrans riders are transit dependent," said Dunn. At $2.00 for an adult fare, riders on SamTrans can go from one end of the Peninsula to the other; and all the spots in between. Mission Street at Goethe Street and Evergreen Avenue in Daly City are the route's northernmost point, noted the San Francisco Examiner. And, the ECR goes all the way south to Palo Alto to the Transit Center on University Avenue, where commuters can connect to CalTrans station.
Drivers and operators on each and every route strive to be efficient, safety conscious, customer service friendly and on time. "We are very proud of our service," said Dunn. For more information about the ECR route and all other bus routes for San Mateo County, California, visit the SamTrans web site.
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