Regional express bus services can be an important and cost-effective travel mode for peak-hour commuters, but rarely receive sustained attention in the transportation planning process. In 2003, the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC) entered into an innovative partnership with San Francisco Bay Area public transit agencies, Caltrans District 4, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to develop a Bay Area System Plan for Regional Express Bus Service.

The first phase of this study examined the nearly 300 express buses already in operation in the San Francisco Bay Area, providing feeder services to rail stations, direct suburb-to-CBD service, and limited stop crosstown express service, mostly center city neighborhoods to CBD. UCTC conducted on-board surveys of express bus riders; park and ride surveys from major lots along freeways and at multimodal transfer stations; and focus groups with bus users, carpoolers, and solo drivers in express bus and rail corridors. We also examined the equity implications of current fare structures. The presentation will discuss the findings of this study, where plans for a Regional Express Bus system in the Bay Area appear to be headed, and how the case illustrates key issues that have been arising in numerous large urban areas where express bus and rail services are key components of the transportation system.

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