It is with great sadness that SolTrans and National
Express Transit announces the passing of Keith O. Ward Jr. He has been part of
the team with SolTrans and National Express, helping to provide public
transportation in Vallejo and Benicia, for over a decade. Keith started with
the team as a driver and has transitioned from Analyst to Scheduler, during his
Keith was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1953 but grew
up in nearby Minnesota, where he developed a love for playing hockey. He
attended both Bob Jones University and the University of Minnesota. He had a
diverse background before joining the SolTrans team, which included working in
his uncle’s butcher shop, selling men’s clothing, driving a Trailways bus,
managing a lumber yard, and owning his own construction business. Whatever he
did, Keith did it passionately and loved coming to work every day.
Keith’s commitment to his job showed and he was
well regarded and respected by his co-workers and the public for his enthusiasm
to whatever task he was given. He will be long remembered for his kindness,
generosity, humor, and thoughtfulness to those around him and will be dearly missed
by his family, his friends and his co-workers. Keith leaves behind his parents,
his sister and two daughters.
SolTrans is excited to announce that they will join with other public transportation systems nationwide to participate in National Get On Board Day on Thursday, April 25.
Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the 2019 National Get On Board Day is a day that encourages people to support public transportation and showcases the benefits it brings to communities. Each weekday in the U.S., 34 million people board public transportation.
“Our riders are very important to us and we want to encourage everyone to ride with us on April 25 and join the millions of people across the nation celebrate their local public transportation. Our staff works hard to make our riders comfortable and safe and we will continue to strive to go that extra mile for them.” SolTrans Executive Director Beth Kranda said.
Public transportation is a cornerstone of local economies in urban, suburban, and rural communities. In fact, public transportation helps to make a community economically prosperous and competitive. Every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns, powering community growth and revitalization.
For complete SolTrans bus routes and schedules please visit soltransride.com or call (707) 648-4666.
Q: John, everyone is anxious to meet you and find out more so why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in the East Bay, in Albany, and went to college at City College of San Francisco and then SF State. I started out studying graphic design, before switching my major to political science. I mostly listen to Classic Rock now, and some Heavy Metal, but in the early-mid-nineties, I was a huge U2 fan. I live in Richmond. I’m married with two dogs and a cat. In my free time, I like exploring the East Bay hills, cooking, and woodworking.
Q: We know you came from transit, but where and how does it compare to SolTrans?
A: Before SolTrans I worked at SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit) for a number of years, and at the San Francisco Paratransit broker’s office before that. Each agency has its own unique culture and way of doing things. In general, at a smaller agency you work on a wide variety of tasks and at a larger one, you specialize a bit more. For me, that makes it much more interesting to work for a smaller agency like SolTrans. There is also a big difference in perspective between the public agency and private contractor sides of the industry, both of which I’ve experienced. I think both sides bring something valuable to the table, and it’s important to understand and engage with both viewpoints, to get the best results.
Q: Why SolTrans?
A: When the opportunity to work at SolTrans came across my radar, it just looked too good to pass up. It’s exciting to be working for an agency where I feel like the things I do can have a real impact. SolTrans is obviously a very young agency, but I think we’re ready to take some big steps in a number of interesting areas. We’re small enough to be nimble, which presents some fun possibilities, and we’re very lucky to have a Board of Directors who are forward-thinking and supportive of our trying new things. We also have a fantastic staff, and a great partnership with our contractor, so I think we’re well positioned to do some amazing things in the near future. I’m really looking forward to seeing what SolTrans becomes over the next few years and being a part of that.
Q: What are some of your goals for your tenure here at SolTrans?
A: I hope to help SolTrans as it modernizes and grows into itself a bit. Being a very small agency, and a young one, a lot of our processes are still being defined. I generally take a result-oriented but process-focused approach to things – I’m interested in how well the process supports the desired result, and look for any areas that can be streamlined or simplified. Overall, I think SolTrans basically does a good job, given the resources we have available. I’d like to help SolTrans get to the next level by updating a few of our policies and procedures, seeing that they’re aligned with our overall goals, and making sure our team is well equipped to be successful at whatever we do. I’d also like to strengthen SolTrans’ ties to the rest of the Bay Area transit scene, both to bring back good ideas and to share whatever we learn along the way.
Q: Any other thoughts you want to share about the goals and changes you plan to do?
A: Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built to last. The public transit industry is changing quickly – by public transit industry standards. I think now is an important time to look hard at “the way we’ve always done it” and determine as objectively as possible if we’re doing it the right way, or at least in the best way available to us now. It’s important to remember that what comes next requires both motivation and patience. Lasting change often feels painfully slow, but you can’t always see the full effect until you look back toward where you started. I think the real test of our success now will be to look back in a few years and see the progress that SolTrans has made from today.
One of Vallejo’s newer residents is also one of SolTrans newest riders. Courtney Rucker moved to Vallejo in 2017 from San Diego to take biology classes at Solano Community College (SCC), She would like to become a surgical oncologist. Attracted to SCC’s program and having family in Vallejo helped make her decision to move here much easier. Not having her own car presented an opportunity and SolTrans offered the solution for her to get to and from SCC, around Solano county, and the Bay Area.
SolTrans is particularly attractive for SCC students because they are able to access the various bus systems in Solano county via an SCC program that pays for their fares via their student fees, therefore they are able to ride for no additional costs. SolTrans allows Courtney to get to school and to work with nothing more than her student ID. Which is a great incentive to take public transportation for all of the SCC student body. So, far the SolTrans has been a great way for her to get around and she likes the MyStop mobile phone application that allows her to see where the bus is in real time.
While SolTrans is a great way for her to get around, Courtney does have some suggestions for us. She would like to see the buses run later and more frequently. SolTrans is already hard at work on both of those suggestions. Later service hours and redesigning routes for more efficient service proposals are currently out for public comment for summer 2019 changes . Courtney will be graduating this spring so she will not be able to enjoy those changes to get to and from SCC but hopefully, she will be able to ride the New Red Line as she continues her education at UC Berkley this fall.
Keep up the hard work Courtney and SolTrans will keep working hard for you and the rest of the Vallejo/Benicia communities.
Today, SolTrans’ Route 80 runs between the Vallejo Transit Center (VTC) and the El Cerrito del Norte BART station, and Route 85 runs between VTC and Fairfield. This summer Routes 80 and 85 will merge to form the new Red Line, which will provide service between Fairfield/Suisun and El Cerrito del Norte BART via VTC hourly and will continue to provide service between VTC and El Cerrito del Norte BART more frequently during commute hours.
After the change, patrons will be able to take a one-seat, single-fare ride from El Cerrito del Norte BART to Fairfield. Stops along the Route will include Curtola Park and Ride, VTC, Six Flags Crest Via Hwy 37, Solano Community College, Fairfield Transportation Center, Suisun Amtrak Station and Solano Town Center Mall.
The new Red Line service will begin operating between El Cerrito del Norte BART and VTC on Sunday, June 30. Service from El Cerrito del Norte BART to Fairfield will begin on Monday, July 1.
On Monday, January 21, 2019 SolTrans released the Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA): Proposed Local Route and Service Changes with a request for public comments. The proposed changes affect Routes 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 and 20, as well as Benicia General Public Dial-A-Ride and include a proposal to increase service hours on local routes until 9:00 p.m. weekdays.
The route and service proposals are the result of a comprehensive study that began in July 2018. The proposed changes are a result of three working papers that began with a study of the demographics of Benicia and Vallejo, an analysis of the productivity of current local service with public input gathered from various meetings held last summer, and a proposal of service alternatives.
SolTrans would like to invite the public to comment on the proposed route and service changes during the public comment period between January 21st and March 21st, 2019. Information about the proposed changes can be found by clicking COA: Proposed Route and Service Change, Request for Public Comment from the SolTrans website homepage. A summary is available in print from the Vallejo Transit Center Ticket office at 311 Sacramento Street, Vallejo.
To learn about and comment on the proposed changes, attend a Community Meeting workshop at fixed meeting locations within Benicia and Vallejo or talk with staff on the bus during one of the many Bus Town Hall rides. A list of available workshops can be found from the Community Meetings link from the website page mentioned above. Information about the changes may be obtained, or comments submitted, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling Customer Service at 707-648-4666, or by completing the comment form at the bottom of each page of the website.
Effective July 1, 2018, SolTrans welcomed the new Yellow Line, updated fare structure including the newly reduced Solano County Express Travel fare, and minor adjustments to the Route 80 and Route 85.
The Yellow Line replaced Route 78. The Yellow Line service was developed in partnership with the Solano Transportation Authority, to implement revisions that will simplify service, reduce duplication, meet performance standards and connect Solano cities and beyond even better than before. For schedule and maps visit the SolTrans website.
SolTrans has updated the current fare structure, including a newly Reduced 31-Day Express Pass and the new Solano County Travel Fare which will allow you to travel on the Route 85 for a reduced price. Please visit the SolTrans website for the new updated fare table.
The minor adjustments to the last two weekday evening buses, Route 80 and Route 85, allow for better transfers and connection to BART. All July 1st service change information can be found on the SolTrans homepage.
Also, in partnership with the Solano Transportation Authority, FAST, City Coach and Solano Community College, SolTrans will offer free rides to Solano Community College students (with a valid student ID) on all SolTrans Local Routes, locally on the Yellow Line and Route 85. Solano Community College has campuses in Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville.
“This is a really exciting time of the year for students; SolTrans is happy to help with transportation to and from school,” said SolTrans Executive Director Beth Kranda.