01/10/17 UPDATE: NVTA is hosting an Open House to discuss the Express Bus study survey results and take feedback from the community!
12/30/16 Update: The Express Bus Study survey resulted have been released. Click here to read the memo.
The Napa Valley Transportation Authority (NVTA) is conducting a study to determine if upgrading and expanding Vine Transit Express Bus service could better serve Napa County residents, visitors, and workers by providing faster, more efficient transit to key regional destinations on the county's main travel corridors (State Route 29, State Route 12, State Route 121 & Soscol Avenue). Those destinations could include:
● El Cerrito del Norte BART station
● Vallejo Ferry Terminal
● Capitol Corridor in Suisun/Fairfield
● Sonoma Plaza
● Future connections to the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART)
The study will identify solutions to optimize the express bus system, including: route alignments and destinations, stop locations, infrastructure enhancements to improve travel times, and fare structure. The goal of the final Vine Transit Express Bus Study is to identify the best strategic investments to improve the Vine Transit Express Bus system, encourage new ridership and reduce overall highway congestion in Napa County.
Bookmark this page for important updates, reports and other information as NVTA studies this ongoing initiative.
What is an Express Bus, and what exactly is NVTA studying?
Express Bus service offers faster speeds, shorter travel times and enhanced features. How does it work? NVTA is studying these options:
● Limited or "skip-stop" service, meaning buses make fewer stops along a route (especially during peak commute hours)
● "Queue jumps" and curb extensions (bulb-outs), with street and sidewalk configurations allowing buses to bypass stopped/slow traffic
● Bus signal priority, in which buses running behind schedule trigger shorter red and/or extended green traffic lights
● Using highway shoulders for buses to bypass slower traffic
● Low-floor or multiple door buses to allow quicker entries/exits
● Off-bus fare collection, allowing travelers to purchase tickets before they board a vehicle
● Improved stations with enhanced features, such as weather-protection shelters, extra & more comfortable seating and real-time bus locator information
I thought Vine Transit already had Express Routes?
Vine Transit currently offers three (weekday only) express routes: the Napa-Solano Express (Route 21); the Napa-Sonoma Express (Route 25); and the Express to BART (Route 29).
Vine Transit's current express routes offer some limited "skip-stop" service for buses to make fewer stops, but lacks other features common on express buses. Vine buses on the Route 29 Express to BART, for instance, must use the same lanes on SR-29 available to regular daily traffic. When Napa County residents were asked as part of a Community Based Transportation Study why they did not use transit, the highest number of respondents said the service takes too long compared with automobiles. A viable express bus system, often more affordable for commuters than driving a car, must also be faster, more efficient and convenient for users.
So is this Bus Rapid Transit?
No. Although a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system includes many of the characteristics of an Express Bus system, there are key differences. A typical BRT system mimics a light-rail system with more frequent routes, dedicated lanes for the entire fixed-route system and larger stations -- it's been described as a "surface subway" or a "subway on streets."
How can I get involved?
Your input is an integral piece of the planning process. As the project develops, we’ll be updating this website with information and provide a number of opportunities for feedback. The project is currently trying to understand the needs and opportunities for an improved Express Bus service. NVTA conducted a survey on commute patterns for Napa County residents and workers to help guide the Express Bus study, receiving 760 responses. This survey will allow NVTA to identify ways to best align Express Bus transit service with transportation needs. Download the Survey memo for detailed information about the results, and check out this infographic for a quick summary:
What are the next steps?
NVTA staff and the agency's consultants will bring various elements of the Express Bus Corridor Study before its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for review and feedback throughout the process, as well as conducting public outreach in the form of a survey, targeted communications, NVTA's online comment section and public meetings. As stated earlier, the goal of the final Express Bus Plan is to analyze the best strategic investments to improve the Vine express bus system, encourage new ridership and reduce overall highway congestion in Napa County.
For more information or questions about the project, email NVTA planner Alberto Esqueda at firstname.lastname@example.org.