LAVTA Celebrates Launch of Autonomous Vehicle Testing

LIVERMORE, CA, June 27, 2018 – The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) celebrated the launch of testing of its new Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAV) on June 22 at an event held at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station. Approximately 70 area business leaders, elected officials and project sponsors attended the event.

Vehicle testing will take place on public roads in the city of Dublin, California. Dublin Mayor and LAVTA Board member David Haubert welcomed those in attendance, saying “I’m very proud that the innovative City of Dublin has been chosen to develop the leading edge of autonomous vehicle travel. Working together with LAVTA, EasyMile staff and our other project partners, our city traffic engineers will be among the first in the country to link a rail station to last mile destinations by navigating complex stoplight and turning scenarios along public roads.”

Funding for the project was obtained through a grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Alameda County Supervisor and LAVTA Vice Chair Scott Haggerty, who secured the grant, noted that “providing a convenient and reliable first and last mile zero emission service will have a substantial environmental impact by reducing single occupancy vehicle trips to employment, retail and residential destinations located near the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station.”

LAVTA’s SAV project also received legislative support through the efforts of California State Assemblymember Catharine Baker. Baker sponsored Assembly Bill 1444, which gave LAVTA the authority to operate the autonomous vehicle on public roads during testing. Regarding the project, Baker said “This shuttle is not only going to make our area an innovation hub, but also make our lives easier by making great connections for folks in the East Bay.”
LAVTA’s partners on the SAV project include GoMentum Station, which will oversee the entire testing process and First Transit, which will provide staffing, maintenance and operation support for the project. Speaking to the testing process, Pleasanton Councilmember and LAVTA Chair Karla Brown told attendees “Before we will begin carrying passengers, the technology on our vehicle will need to be proven by passing more than 100 different testing scenarios. That process is expected to take two to three years.”

The tests will include infrastructure communication; interactions with others on the road such as vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians; and a variety of road and weather conditions. LAVTA’s SAV is a second generation EasyMile EZ10, which can operate in fixed route or on-demand mode. The vehicle weighs 3,500 pounds and has space for 12 passengers. Although capable of higher speeds, during testing the vehicle will operate at 15 miles per hour or less. An operator from First Transit will be onboard the vehicle at all times during the testing phase.

Michael Tree, Executive Director of LAVTA, sees Shared Autonomous Vehicles as an important piece of the overall mobility puzzle. He noted that “Transit agencies are facing growing public frustration with inadequate parking at major transit centers and a lack of reliable on-demand options for those all-important first and last mile connections. For example, in our service area, both the West Dublin/Pleasanton and the East Dublin/Pleasanton BART stations provide intercity and Transbay transit options for TriValley residents; however parking lots at both of these stations are typically full by 7:30 am. Traditional fixed route transit services are only an attractive option to choice riders if the route happens to travel within a reasonable walk distance of the commuter’s origin or
destination.”

Although LAVTA is a relatively small transit system, Tree feels that the agency must embrace and implement new technology and mobility opportunities to remain relevant. LAVTA’s fixed route bus service area covers 40 square miles including the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton in Alameda County, approximately 35 miles east of San Francisco. LAVTA contracts for the operation and maintenance of all fixed route and paratransit services, with 70 fixed route buses and 18 paratransit vehicles. Combined total fixed route and paratransit ridership is approximately 1.6 million annually. LAVTA’s entire administrative staff consists of just 14 employees. Further evidence of the agency’s commitment to new mobility approaches occurred in 2016, as part of a bus service redesign. LAVTA introduced an innovative partnership with ridesharing companies Uber, Lyft and DeSoto Cab to offer city of Dublin residents enhanced transportation options and flexibility, in an on-demand and real time format. LAVTA’s Go Dublin program was the first of its kind in the Bay Area and the first to partner with both Uber and Lyft. With the Go Dublin promotion, LAVTA pays for 50% of the shared ride fare, up to $5 per trip. To qualify for the discount, rideshare trips must both start and end within the Dublin city limits, which includes both BART stations. Implementation of this program coincided with the elimination of a fixed route in Dublin that had very low productivity. At the time of the service restructuring, the route was carrying only five passengers per hour with a per passenger subsidy of $15. The Go Dublin partnership provides a higher level of service to Dublin residents at a lower subsidy per rider to LAVTA. The pilot program is being funded through a $100,000 grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and another $100,000 from LAVTA. An
evaluation of the program will be completed by the end of the year.

Proposed Modifications to the Wheels Supplemental Routes in Dublin

As new residential developments continue to be completed in Dublin, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) has seen a substantial increase in the demand on its supplemental (school-focused) Wheels routes – especially between eastern Dublin and Dublin High School.

In order to be able to continue accommodating the increased demand in a planned fashion, LAVTA commissioned a small study in early 2018 with the purpose of gathering land-use and demographic data that could assist it with assessing capacity needs in Dublin over the near-term future. The study team also held outreach with local stakeholders and conducted an online survey with students and parents to gather additional input regarding the needs and priorities of the community.

Based on the findings of the study, the following modifications are being proposed for the Dublin supplemental service this coming fall 2018:

  • Extension of Route 502 to south Jordan Ranch, serving the easternmost part of Central Parkway and the surrounding subdivisions.
  • Discontinuation of portions of Route 503, including Wildwood Road, Dougherty Road, and the East Dublin/Pleasanton BART station; and discontinuation of the Route 503 late afternoon (5:03p) trip.
  • Implementation of a new service (Route 505) serving Positano Parkway – Gleason Drive – Tassajara Road – Central Parkway – Hacienda Drive – Dublin Boulevard – Village Parkway – Dublin High School. This line, which would partially overlap existing routes, would provide additional capacity in hotspot boarding areas as well as offer a faster travel option for students traveling to/from developments in the farthest eastern Dublin such as Positano Hill.
  • Addition of capacity – including overflow buses as necessary – consistent with the agency’s overflow load policy.

Further recommendations for the medium-term future include:

  • Potential realignment of mainline service such as Route 2.
  • Addition of a supplemental route dedicated to Fallon Middle School.
  • Expansion of service to the new developments off Palisades Drive.

LAVTA staff will finalize the short-term proposals into recommendations for approval by the Board of Directors at their June 4, 2018 meeting. Comments are welcome and will be received any time prior to that date by email at info@lavta.org.

SmartTrips Tri-Valley Program Begins May 2018!

Did you miss our SmartTrips team’s visit? If you received our ‘Sorry We Missed You’ door hanger but would still like to receive personalized transportation resources, fill out our quick participation form here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SmartTripsTri-Valley

The SmartTrips Tri-Valley team is in the neighborhood to help people try new ways of getting around, including riding the bus, carpooling, biking and walking instead of driving alone.

Our team is meeting with residents at their doorstep— and are in the process of visiting 4,000 households in proximity to the Rapid 30R route in Dublin and Livermore.

Taking a personalized door-to-door approach, the SmartTrips team will provide information and incentives for participants including transit schedules, a neighborhood map, a tote bag, and a Clipper Card with loaded value. SmartTrips team members wear a uniform and photo ID and will never ask to enter a resident’s household.

This project will be closely monitored to identify the impact on how residents travel.  Similar projects elsewhere have had great success, and typically see reductions in drive-alone travel of 5-15% by residents taking part, helping to tackle local traffic problems and reducing the environmental impacts of car trips.

SmartTrips Tri-Valley is a way to connect communities with rewarding benefits, and it will demonstrate a commitment to transportation choices for everyone. Help spread the word, and look for the SmartTrips team around Tri-Valley!

Questions? Call the SmartTrips Tri-Valley hotline at 925-339-6742 or email us at smarttrips@wheelsbus.com.

Dublin High School Student Develops Bus Tracking App

Dublin High School (DHS) sophomore Liam O’Flynn has made it easier for Tri-Valley residents to track the progress of Wheels and Rapid buses on their smartphones. Liam wrote and published the “Tri-Valley Buses” app shortly after he began attending DHS and had missed the bus a couple of times.

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) already had a bus tracking application on its website, but it was not easily used on mobile devices. Liam was able to use LAVTA’s General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) Realtime data to develop his app. The same GTFS data from LAVTA and other US transit systems is used by Google maps for the transit service option on its mapping program.

The Tri-Valley Buses app is available for free download on iOS or Android devices. The app is designed to use very little data, battery or memory on mobile devices and does not track the user’s activities in any way or contain any kind of advertising. The user selects which Wheels or Rapid route they want to track and a map displays every bus stop along the route along with the precise location of every bus on the route. When the bus icon is tapped, the app shows vehicle number, direction of travel and on-time status. (See screenshot below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) was created in 1985 by the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton and Alameda County to serve area transit needs. LAVTA serves nearly 2 million passengers a year on our Wheels bus and paratransit services.

LAVTA supports environmental sustainability by reducing vehicle trips and traffic congestion on local streets and improving air quality in the Tri-Valley region. In addition to passenger fares, the agency is supported financially by federal, state and local agencies, including the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s Measure B and BB.

Follow LAVTA on Facebook at facebook.com/wheelsbus and on Twitter @wheelsbus

 

New Wheels Buses Sport New Design

As you may have noticed, we have begun rolling out 18 brand new buses into service on Wheels routes throughout the Tri-Valley. The buses were built at the Gillig manufacturing facility, located right here in Livermore.

These Wheels buses feature a brand new exterior look and logo. The buses still carry the familiar red, white and blue Wheels colors, but the design has been modernized and the look and logo are now complementary to the design of LAVTA’s Rapid buses.

 

First Meeting Of The Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority On January 17, 2018

The first meeting of the newly created Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority has been set for Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at the Robert Livermore Community Center in the Palo Verde Room at 4444 East Street in Livermore.  The meeting will begin at 2pm.  The agenda and Board Packet can be found at www.acetobart.org.

The Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority was created by AB 758 (Eggman/Baker), which was signed into law in 2017.  The mission of the new Authority is to plan and deliver a cost-effective and responsive rail connection between the ACE rail system and BART in the Tri-Valley.  For more information, contact Michael Tree, Executive Director, at 925-455-7564.

Donations to Wheels “Stuff-A-Bus Bingo” Food Drive Top 2,400 Pounds

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), operator of the Wheels and Rapid bus services, hosted another “Stuff-A-Bus” holiday food drive on Saturday November 18. The event took place at the Lucky Supermarket in Pleasanton.

Several hundred Tri-Valley residents stopped by to help the Open Heart Kitchen and Tri-Valley Haven stock their food pantries for the holiday season. Individual donations ranged from a single can to hundreds of pounds. The total weight of donated items exceeded 2,400 pounds. In addition, cash and gift card donations totaled over $450.

LAVTA developed a “Stuff-a-Bus Bingo” theme for this year’s food drive. Game cards listed the items most in need by the two food banks receiving the donations. Prizes ranged from small promotional items to four pairs of San Jose Sharks tickets, donated by radio station 101.7 KKIQ, which broadcast live from the event.

Alameda County Supervisor and LAVTA Board Vice-Chair Scott Haggerty (standing far right) donates four shopping carts full of needed items. Joining Supervisor Haggerty in the photo are (standing l to r): Tony McCaulay, LAVTA Marketing Manager, Ann King, Tri-Valley Haven Executive Director and Clare Gomes, Open Heart Kitchen Operations Manager. Kneeling in the photo are two employees from the Lucky store who assisted Supervisor Haggerty during his shopping trip.

Bus filled with 2,400 pounds of donations.

About the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) was created in 1985 by the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton and Alameda County to serve area transit needs. LAVTA serves nearly 2 million passengers a year on our Wheels bus and paratransit services.

LAVTA supports environmental sustainability by reducing vehicle trips and traffic congestion on local streets and improving air quality in the Tri-Valley region. In addition to passenger fares, the agency is supported financially by federal, state and local agencies, including the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s Measure B and BB.

Follow LAVTA on Facebook at facebook.com/wheelsbus and on Twitter @wheelsbus or visit our website wheelsbus.com for more information on Wheels bus and paratransit services as well as our Go Dublin! promotion with Uber, Lyft and Desoto Cab and our redesigned bus services offering convenient access to BART stations in the Tri-Valley. Coming soon look for information about our exciting plans for a shared autonomous vehicle demonstration project.

 

Feedback Sought on Tri-Valley Paratransit Alternatives

In early 2017, the Livermore Amador Valley Transportation Authority (LAVTA) and the City of Pleasanton launched a comprehensive study of paratransit services throughout the Tri-Valley called Mobility Forward: Tri-Valley Paratransit Assessment. Paratransit services in the region are currently operated by the City of Pleasanton and LAVTA/Wheels and the parties have coordinated on this study to ensure Tri-Valley residents continue to have quality access to transportation services and other amenities.

The study began with an analysis of operational data and policies from both LAVTA and the City of Pleasanton. A public engagement process conducted throughout the Tri-Valley included three public meetings and a survey designed to learn about existing awareness of services, to understand needs and travel patterns, and to understand where gaps in services exist. After compiling the results of the public outreach and gathering input from other Tri-Valley stakeholders, the Mobility Forward study team has been busy analyzing alternatives and is ready to collect feedback on those alternatives. Potential alternatives will be presented at a series of public meetings in mid-November.

Dates/times/locations of the public meetings and input opportunities are below:

1)         November 15th, 10a-12p, Dublin Senior Center, 7600 Amador Valley Boulevard, Dublin. A special shuttle to/from BART will be provided for this meeting.

2)         November 16th, 10a-12p, Pleasanton Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Boulevard, Pleasanton. Wheels Route 8 provides service to the Pleasanton Senior Center.

3)         November 16th, 2-4p, Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Avenue, Livermore. Wheels Route 30R provides service to the Livermore Community Center.

The study team will be gathering public input throughout the end of the year and will be presenting draft recommendations to the LAVTA Board and Pleasanton City Council the first quarter of 2018. For more information, visit the website at https://www.wheelsbus.com/mobility-forward-tri-valley-paratransit-assessment-study/or contact:

 About the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) was created in 1985 by the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton and Alameda County to serve area transit needs. LAVTA serves nearly 2 million passengers a year on our Wheels bus and paratransit services.

LAVTA supports environmental sustainability by reducing vehicle trips and traffic congestion on local streets and improving air quality in the Tri-Valley region. In addition to passenger fares, the agency is supported financially by federal, state and local agencies, including the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s Measure B and BB.

LAVTA Receives Excellence in Financial Reporting Award

For the 21st consecutive year, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) has earned the prestigious Certificate of Achievement for Excellence Award in Financial Reporting. This award was received for LAVTA’s excellence in financial reporting in their 2016 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.

For a copy of LAVTA’s 2016 financial report, click here . For more information on GFOA, visit www.gfoa.com.

About the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) was created in 1985 by the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton and Alameda County to serve area transit needs. LAVTA serves nearly 2 million passengers a year on our Wheels bus and paratransit services.

 LAVTA supports environmental sustainability by reducing vehicle trips and traffic congestion on local streets and improving air quality in the Tri-Valley region. In addition to passenger fares, the agency is supported financially by federal, state and local agencies, including the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s Measure B and BB.

LAVTA Passes Annual California Highway Patrol Inspection

For the 14th consecutive year, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has inspected the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority’s (LAVTA) operations and maintenance facility. LAVTA received the highest rating available, with no safety violations found.  The random inspection included a detailed check of the condition of Wheels and Rapid buses, maintenance records and preventive maintenance practices on the maintenance side. On the bus operations side, the records inspection included an examination of the licensing, training and testing of bus operators, compliance with regulations governing drivers’ hours of service and records required by statute or regulation.

“This signifies a major achievement in providing Wheels and Rapid customers the highest and most consistent level of safety.  Our contractor and valued partner, MV Transportation, has trained and developed staff over the past 14 years to maintain this high standard,” said Michael Tree, LAVTA Executive Director.