The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority recently announced several new advancements in its services to Tri-Valley passengers.
The agency, which operates the Wheels bus system, spotlighted these developments that include the consolidation of its paratransit resources with County Connection, the return of Try Transit to School and the national recognition of LAVTA's financial operations.
"The intention behind consolidating the two paratransit services was to operate more efficiently by reducing duplication of certain functions of service delivery," said Tony McCaulay, LAVTA director of marketing and planning.
Founded in 1985, LAVTA serves the cities of Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore with a variety of buses, vans and public transit vehicles. The announcements aim to encourage passenger satisfaction and ridership. The Central Costa County Transit Authority, also known as County Connection, is a transportation agency that supplies fixed-route services in neighboring Contra Costa County.
The paratransit consolidation was previously approved by boards of both agencies.
According to McCaulay, the merger will upgrade such tasks as "reservation taking, scheduling, dispatch and operations -- primarily to improve the passenger experience."
Transportation services once operated independently of each other by the separate organizations, they have now joined together in an attempt to better meet the needs of the public, as well as encourage efficiency with funding and resources. The integration of the two organizations hopes to increase customer satisfaction and passenger comfortability, according to officials.
Previously, users of Wheels and County Connection were required to change services and vehicles when traveling through different counties.
"With the consolidation, the passenger can now book a 'one-seat ride' and no longer needs to transfer between systems," McCaulay said.
In addition to the transit service consolidation, Wheels announced a returning initiative to provide Tri-Valley school-aged children and youth with rides through the next several weeks.
The program, Try Transit to School, has existed in the community for almost 20 years. Its return will offer middle and high school students free rides systemwide from now until Sept. 5.
"The promotion encourages students to try our services as an option for transportation to school and other locations as well," McCaulay said. "We hope that students get comfortable with the process of using public transit and continue that habit as they move into adulthood."
The free rides are not just limited to school transportation -- rides can be used during freetime, weekends and for non-school related activities. To use the service, students simply board and ride, no pass is required.
In other news, LAVTA announced the organization's recent national recognition for its finance management and operation.
LAVTA was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government of Finance Officers Association (GFOA), their 26th consecutive year receiving the prize.
"LAVTA operates with a very small executive and administrative staff," McCaulay said. "To have won the GFOA award for 26 consecutive years recognizes the diligent efforts of the two-person LAVTA Finance and Accounting staff. As for the marketing awards, LAVTA's marketing staff currently consists of the director of planning and marketing and a marketing intern."
The transit organization was also the recipient of two first place AdWheel awards, a national competition aimed at highlighting transit systems across the country.
"Many of the agencies we compete against in the AdWheel competition have a much larger marketing staff," McCaulay said. "We were especially gratified to be recognized for the 'Memorial Madden Cruiser,' a project that went from an in-house concept to completion in less than six weeks and was done without any expenditure of public funds."
LAVTA's Memorial Madden Cruiser is an advertising project that honors the late Raiders football coach, John Madden, on Wheels vehicles.
To find out more information about the transit agency, plan trips or receive route alerts, visit wheelsbus.com.