Face Coverings Now Optional on Wheels Buses

The federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) mandate requiring that face coverings be worn by all passengers riding on Wheels buses was rescinded on Monday April 18, 2022. As a result, face coverings are now optional when riding our services.

Wheels bus operators will continue to provide face coverings for passengers who forget to bring one.

 

Wheels Executive Director Michael Tree Leaving to Head Santa Cruz Transit System

Michael TreeMichael Tree, Executive Director of the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority since November 2014, has announced he will be leaving the agency effective April 22. On March 25, the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District approved the hiring of Tree as their new Chief Executive Officer/General Manager with a start date of April 25.

Tree is credited with inheriting a transit system that had experienced five consecutive years of ridership declines and turning it into an organization that was named North America’s Transit Agency of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association in 2020. As Executive Director at Wheels, Tree’s accomplishments include:

  • A major service restructuring in 2016 that improved productivity and increased ridership. The changes included: a new high frequency Rapid bus route, and greatly improved access to BART and ACE rail stations, Las Positas College, and other key destinations in the Tri-Valley. Systemwide ridership increased by over 8 percent over the next two years.
  • The introduction of Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAV) technology to the Tri-Valley. LAVTA’s SAV project kicked off in 2018 with a testing phase in an area adjacent to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station. LAVTA later became the first agency in California to operate an SAV in transit operation on public roads.
  • Serving as the first Executive Director of the Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority (Valley Link) for four years beginning in 2018 while continuing to serve as Executive Director of LAVTA. At Valley Link, Tree oversaw the completion of the Valley Link Project Feasibility Report, environmental work, and preliminary design, which identified alignment, stations and the system’s operating characteristics.

Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown, who serves as Chair of the LAVTA Board of Directors said, “On behalf of the LAVTA Board, I would like to thank Michael for having a vision that improved mobility options for the residents of the Tri-Valley. He came to a transit system that was in a state of decline and in just a few short years, he was able to reverse that trend and implement innovative programs that resulted in LAVTA being recognized as one of the premier transit agencies not just in California, but in all of North America.”

Reflecting on his time at LAVTA, Tree said “It’s been wonderful to be with LAVTA the past seven years. The agency has worked diligently to improve connectivity within the Tri-Valley, especially mobility for seniors and disabled passengers. The talented team at LAVTA has also worked to improve innovation in public transit with our Uber and Lyft partnerships and the agency’s shared autonomous vehicle project. As I leave my post with LAVTA and contemplate the board of directors, employees – including our great operators and support staff – and passengers, I’m confident in LAVTA’s bright future.”

 

Wheels Introduces the “Memorial Madden Cruiser”!

We are paying tribute to the late John Madden in a big way by wrapping an entire 40-foot Wheels bus and designating it as the “Memorial Madden Cruiser”. The bus made its debut public appearance at the “One More Monday Night in Oakland: A Celebration of John Madden” event on Monday February 14 at the RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland. It was parked next to the original Madden Cruiser in front of the entrance to the event.

Beginning yesterday, the “Memorial Madden Cruiser” was placed in regular service on Wheels and Rapid routes. The bus will be rotated between routes so residents throughout the Wheels service area of Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin will have an opportunity to see it.

No public funds were expended on this project. The images used were provided at no cost by the Las Vegas Raiders organization and our advertising sales contractor Lamar Transit Advertising provided the design, production, and installation of the wrap.

Wheels Receives Excellence in Financial Reporting Award for 25th Consecutive Year

For the 25th consecutive year, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) has earned the prestigious Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. This award was received for LAVTA’s excellence in financial reporting in their FY2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) established this award in 1945 to encourage state and local government agencies to exceed the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles in preparing their annual financial reports. The award program assesses whether the financial statements of participating agencies provide the detail necessary for users of the information to adequately evaluate the financial health of the organization.

Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown, who serves as Chair of the LAVTA Board of Directors, said “It is quite an honor for LAVTA to receive this award. To have won the award for 25 consecutive years is a testament to the LAVTA staff’s efforts to be effective stewards of the public trust and ensure that our precious tax dollars are accounted for in an exemplary manner.”

For a copy of LAVTA’s FY2020 financial report, visit the “Reports” section of our website, under the “About Us” tab. For more information on GFOA, visit www.gfoa.com.

Tri-Valley Hub Network Integration Study Approved by LAVTA Board

At their June 7, 2021 meeting the LAVTA Board approved the Tri-Valley Hub Network Integration Study and authorized LAVTA’s Executive Director to forward the report to the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), which had funded the study.

The goal of the Study was to provide the strategic and technical requirements to move forward toward initiating future regional transportation services via a hubbed model at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station and for the near-term evolution of that station into the Tri-Valley Hub as envisioned in the 2018 California State Rail Plan.

Among the Study’s conclusions:
• Move forward with implementing I-680 Express Bus service between Martinez and the Tri-Valley Hub, i.e. Dublin/Pleasanton BART
• Establish a governance structure
• Secure an operator and a funding source
• Work with operators at Dublin/Pleasanton BART to build consensus on improvements enhancing the facility’s ability to serve as a successful Tri-Valley Hub

To see the full Tri-Valley Hub Network Integration Study, click here.

What the California Reopening Plan Means for Wheels Riders

Tomorrow, June 15th, California is expected to fully reopen. The county tier system based on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy will no longer be in effect. Capacity and distancing restrictions will be lifted for most businesses and activities, including Wheels and Rapid buses.

However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirement that face coverings be worn at airports, on commercial aircraft, and on bus and rail systems such as Wheels remains in effect through September 13th.  Face coverings are also required while you are inside our downtown Livermore Transit Center building, but are no longer required while waiting outdoors at a bus stop. Our drivers and the staff at the Transit Center will continue to have masks available for anyone who forgets to bring one.

LAVTA’s Administrative Offices will reopen to the public on June 15. Face coverings will be required for all visitors.

We will continue to follow many protocols established during the COVID-19 pandemic including providing personal protective equipment, anti-viral fogging and cleaning and advanced HVAC system air filters across our fleet.

Wheels to Partially Restore Service to pre-COVID Levels

For almost fifteen months, we have been operating at a significantly reduced level of service as a result of decreased demand resulting from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the State of California planning to fully reopen the economy on June 15, we will be restoring some of those services.

Effective Monday June 14, weekday service will be reinstated to pre-COVID levels from approximately 6:00-9:00 am and 3:00-6:00 pm on Routes 1, 3, 8, 10R, 14, and 30R. Route 15 will return to all-day pre-COVID service levels. Service will continue to end at 11 pm.

Schedules for the revised service levels are available by clicking here.

Wheels Offers Free Rides to COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

Beginning Monday March 1, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) will provide free rides on existing Wheels, Rapid and Dial-a-Ride services to and from any COVID-19 vaccination site in Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin, including hospitals, pharmacies, and other immunization locations. This program will remain in effect until further notice.

To receive a free ride, passengers should be ready to show physical or digital confirmation of their same-day vaccine appointment to the bus operator at time of boarding. Dial-a-Ride paratransit riders should indicate that their trips are for the purpose of a COVID-19 vaccination when booking their reservations. Staff will then alert the Dial-a-Ride driver that the rider is not required to pay the fare. This effort is aimed at reducing transportation and cost barriers for Tri-Valley residents eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As an essential service, LAVTA has continued operations and has provided needed transportation to essential workers and the general public, many of whom have no other reliable form of transportation. Providing free rides to and from vaccination sites will help ensure that all persons have access to be vaccinated in a timely manner.” said Bob Woerner, Chair of the LAVTA Board of Directors.

LAVTA is one of more than 20 Bay Area transit agencies participating in a coordinated effort to keep essential transportation services available to the communities we serve through the Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan. The regional Healthy Transit Plan outlines action items for frequent cleaning, personal protective equipment, face coverings, social distancing, ventilation, and touchless fares in order to keep transit safe for all Bay Area residents and transit employees.

 

 

Low Income Wheels Riders Offered Reduced Fares

Low income riders on the Wheels bus system will become eligible for reduced fares beginning Monday January 25. Wheels is participating in a pilot program administered by the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) called Clipper START. The pilot will continue through the end of the year at a minimum.

Applicants to the pilot program can provide a copy of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card or Medi-Cal card, a county benefits eligibility letter, their Muni Lifeline card number or a copy of their last federal tax return to demonstrate their eligibility. Once approved, they will receive a personalized Clipper card that must be loaded with cash value before use.

The Clipper START discounts are automatically applied whenever the card is used. On Wheels buses, the discount is 20 percent off of the regular $2.00 one-way fare. Clipper START is not a transit pass — it is a program that offers discounts for single rides on 22 participating Bay Area transit systems.

Riders interested in Clipper START can learn more about the program and apply online at clipperstartcard.com. The website guides customers through the application process, details what documents customers need to upload, and will save applicants’ progress to allow them to return later to complete the application if necessary.

Cards can only be obtained through the Clipper website and are not available at the Livermore Transit Center, the Wheels Administrative Office or at any of the other Tri-Valley retail locations where Clipper Cards are available.

Income guidelines for the program are listed below.

Clipper Start Income Guidelines

Household size Household income up to
1 $25,520
2 $34,480
3 $43,440
4 $52,400
5 $61,360
6 $70,320
7 $79,280
8 $88,240

Add $8,960 for each additional household member over eight.