On March 3rd and 4th, 2018, SolTrans hosted their first Small Bus Roadeo at their Operations Facility in Vallejo.
“We were very excited to host the 2018 CalACT/ RTAP Small Bus Driver Safety Roadeo this year and everyone had so much fun. I can see us participating in future years,” said SolTrans General Services Manager Pat Carr.
This two-day event had bus safety and training incorporated into the programming, as well as competitive driving and wheelchair-securement skills, judging.
SolTrans reached out to the community for local judges, including Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan who by all accounts, and by looking at the pictures, had the best time. SolTrans staff and families had a great time cheering for their favorite drivers and celebrating Sunday at the end-of-day BBQ and awards ceremony.
The first-place driver received a scholarship to compete at the National Roadeo in Pittsburgh, PA this past summer and we are sure, win or lose, the driver had a great time!
Having your car break down can be a hassle. The convenience and freedom of being able to jump into your car and go is lost. So is the cost and problems that cars can create. Cars need fuel, oil, tires, brakes and many other items that need repair and replacement over time. You also have to register and insure them. It is a lot, financially and time-wise, to keep up with. We recently talked with one of our riders, Dennis Robinson, on why he made the switch to public transit and it is those very costs that caused him to make the change.
Dennis grew up in Vallejo in the late 50’s, in what many would describe as the golden age of the automobile in the United States. An Air Force brat, he moved to Vallejo when he was 8 with his family. He loved having his own car and the freedom it provided. When faced with the increasing cost of his vehicles upkeep, he decided to give the bus a try. Four years later he is glad about his decision. There is a trade-off of “cost for convenience” with taking public transit but Dennis says that it has been worth it. The bus stop near his home is only a block away, so it is only a short walk. He loves the SolTrans’ MyRide app for his phone. It allows him, and the rest of the SolTrans riders, to know how far away the bus is. Knowing when the bus will arrive at his stops saves him time by allowing him to leave at just the right time to be able to meet his bus and not have to waste a moment standing at the bus stop.
He also enjoys the drivers. “They are always so friendly to me,” Dennis reports, “and when you ride regularly it’s great to see the same drivers and have them remember you…that is important to me.” When asked what he enjoys the most, he cites: “the convenience and the cleanliness of the buses”. Dennis also served in the Air Force and he is a disabled veteran, which means that money is also a big factor. He notes that he is retired now and operating on a fixed income and that cost savings of taking public transportation is significant.
Dennis tells us; “I am able to get around all over Vallejo with the bus. I just check on the app to see when the next one is coming by and then I walk on down to the stop when I see that it is getting close. I take it to get to my doctor’s appointment, to go out and get something to eat, I take it to get out to do my shopping and do other things around town. I have even used it to connect to BART too. It gets me to where I need to go when I need to be there and it saves me money.”
That is what we strive to do for our riders. We want to get them where they need to go when they need to be there and we want it to be convenient, clean and cost-effective. We know that it may be easier to take your own car often times but we want our future riders to know what current riders already do. “The convenience of a car comes with a cost and often times public transportation is not only less expensive but just as convenient as driving yourself.” The entire team at SolTrans looks forward to getting you to where you need to go.
Stephanie has worked for National Express for the last 8 years. Coming from the UK, she held various operational roles in the transit business there, including managing one of NX’s largest operations of 550 drivers and 220 buses with revenues exceeding £32m. During her time in the UK she won the internal UK Garage of the Year competition in 2015, and won Young Manager of the Year at the Industry UK Bus awards in 2016.
Stephanie is passionate about utilizing new technologies to their full potential with a key emphasis on staff engagement and empowerment to move the industry forward. She moved to the US business, originally on a 1yr project, in June 2017 as a Process Improvement Manager based in our corporate head office in Lisle where she’s been focused on improving school bus billing. She loved it so much she decided to stay, but only if she was allowed to move back to an operational role! She is close to completing her MBA in business from a UK university, and is currently working on her final project about integrated transport systems in the US. She has embraced the US culture and has found a love for watching US sports, after supporting the Cubs in Chicago she’s still undecided about whether to root for the Athletics or the Giants!
On Wednesday, July 18, 2018, SolTrans celebrated their 7-year anniversary and the local community came out to commend the agency on a job well done.
SolTrans hosted the FilAm Chamber of Commerce Mixer and used this event to mark 7 years that they have been in operation. Local city officials and elected government leaders all came out to show their support.
There were a lot of prizes and great refreshments to mark this event and all that came had a great time!
The SolTrans buses of the future have arrived, and they’re here to get you across Solano County, Contra Costa County and beyond in clean and efficient comfort.
You might have noticed a new look to several of the SolanoExpresscommuter coaches, a new fleet of green, white and silver commuter buses with a sleek and ultramodern design. These new SolTrans commuter coach buses are here for the long haul, making the lengthy intercity trips across Solano County and to BART, the San Francisco Bay Ferry, Amtrak and downtown San Francisco.
The arrival of these new SolanoExpress commuter coaches was quickly followed by the unveiling of SolTrans’ zero-emission, all-electric buses at the groundbreaking of a fueling station facility that will help transition from diesel-fueled buses to buses that run on compressed natural gas. These new and improved buses are all part of SolTrans’ ongoing effort to upgrade its transit fleet to a cleaner, greener, more fuel-efficient ride.
You’ll notice these new taller, longer commuter coaches on Interstate 80 to Fairfield, crossing the Carquinez Bridge to El Cerrito del Norte, on the Benicia-Martinez Bridge to Pleasant Hill or Walnut Creek BART, and on the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. These are the SolanoExpress routes—the I-80 Express, the I-680 Express, the Fairfield Express and the late-night San Francisco Express. And they’re being upgraded with a spotless new batch of commuter coach vehicles that make trips of more than 30 miles—in style and with affordable fares.
The upgraded, modernized buses on the Route 85 Fairfield Expressconnect Vallejo and Fairfield, and run Monday through Saturday. With stops at the Serano Transit Center, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, the Solano Community College Fairfield campus and the Fairfield Transit Center, the Route 85 gets you between Fairfield and Vallejo in well under an hour at just $5 for a one-way fare.
The new modern buses are also found on the lines of the Route 80 I-80 Expressconnecting the Vallejo Transit Center to the upper East Bay with service to El Cerrito del Norte BART. Also just $5 for a one-way fare, the Route 80 runs seven days a week with additional stops at the Serano Transit Center and the Vallejo Transit Center’s Curtola Park & Ride.
For BART connections in central Contra Costa County, the Route 78 I-680 Express connects Vallejo and Benicia to both the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill BART stations. Additional stops include the Curtola Park & Ride and City Park in Benicia, with select routes stopping at Pleasant Hill’s Diablo Valley College.The Route 78 also runs seven days a week, with one-way trips just $5.
For late-night San Francisco Bay commuters, there’s a last-chance SolanoExpress option when you’ve missed or can’t make the last San Francisco Bay Ferry of the evening. The newly added Route 82 is a lifesaver, adding late-night service between Vallejo and downtown San Francisco on weeknights. Departing the Vallejo Transit Center at 9:25 p.m., the Route 82 arrives at the San Francisco Transbay Terminal at 10:18 p.m., then at 10:30 p.m. heads back toward the Vallejo Transit Center, with a final stop at the Sereno Transit Center at 11:38 p.m. Additional stops in both directions include the Curtola Park & Ride and El Cerrito del Norte BART station.
The new SolanoExpress commuter coaches are sleek, comfortable and super high-tech for your long trips from Solano County across the Bay Area. More of these modern commuter coaches will be added to the SolanoExpress fleet soon, and the zero-emission electric buses are beginning to arrive. Those silver, white and green buses are green in more ways than one, and money you’ll save on these intercity trips will go a long, long way.
Local artist Mark Eanes’ artwork on public display at SolTrans facility
The SolTrans public transit system, serving the southern Solano County communities of Vallejo, Benicia and beyond, is a transit agency that truly thinks globally but acts locally.
While SolTrans’ notable claim to fame may be its commitment to global sustainability through a fleet of hybrid buses and all-electric buses, one of its more recent contributions to the community has a very local focus—and is jam-packed with fascinating local history.
If you’ve recently popped into the front entrance of SolTrans’ Operation and Maintenance Facility in downtown Vallejo, you may have seen a 9-foot-long, jigsaw-shaped, multimedia mural that cleverly mixes photos and paintings of settings from the last hundred years of Vallejo and Benicia history.
The installation actually tells a very specific story.
It’s called “Wheel of Time,” and it’s the winner of SolTrans’ recent call to artists that solicited submissions of original artwork to embellish the entrance area. The winning submission was unveiled in late April at an art unveiling event at the facility, capping off a call-to-artists process that featured submissions from more than 20 local artists from within Solano County.
“Wheel of Time” was created by Mark Eanes, a painter, printmaker and photographer who combined all three of those facets into this one fascinating piece of art. Eanes describes the work as “a historical narrative of South Solano County’s mass transit program for over a century,” and combined a number of snapshots of buses, vehicles and cars in Solano County from the early 1900s to the modern day.
But “Wheel of Time” embellishes this photographic historical narrative with Eanes’ signature mixed-media abstractions of painting and printmaking to create a visually striking work of art that can be seen here.
The work was created with additional help and resources from the Vallejo Naval Historical Museum and the Benicia Historical Museum, and explores the history of connecting those two communities dating back to the early 20th century and the establishment of the Vallejo Bus Company and the Benicia-Vallejo Stage Line.
The call to artists focused on soliciting submissions specifically from Vallejo and Benicia artists, a sign of SolTrans’ investment and focus on the two primary municipalities the transit system serves.
Winning artist Mark Eanes has been living and painting in Benicia for more than 20 years, and his work has been shown nationally and internationally. An associate professor of art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Eanes also has a 25-foot mural on display at the new wing of Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo and is a former president and current board member of the nonprofit Arts Benicia.
Eanes’ “Wheel Of Time” isn’t the only work of locally produced art on display at the SolTrans Operation and Maintenance Facility. SolTrans also commissioned Vallejo-based painter Jeff Snell to create a painting in honor of SolTrans’employee of the year in maintenance, Rigo Ortega. Snell’s painting depicts Ortega at work in the maintenance facility, a recognition of the behind-the-scenes labor and toil that goes into keeping SolTrans operating smoothly and a noteworthy display of SolTrans’ acknowledgements to its staff and its hometown community.
Head on down to the SolTrans Operation and Maintenance Facility on Broadway Street in Vallejo to see these remarkable works of art in person, and appreciate their homage to SolTrans’ hardworking employees and the hardworking communities that SolTrans serves.
And then hitch a ride around Vallejo, Benicia and all points of interest in southern Solano on the SolTrans, a modern-day transit system with a long and storied history that has Solano County transportation down to an art form.
Explore the unique communities of Vallejo and Benicia on these popular SolTrans routes, where SolTrans delivers safe, reliable and efficient transportation services that effectively link people, jobs and their communities.
Thanks to a new app that launched in June, SolTrans commuters in Solano County now have all the smartphone convenience of an Uber or Lyft—yet still only pay a fraction of the fare. Now, public transit riders in Vallejo, Benicia and beyond can get real-time locations and arrival times of every SolTrans bus in operation thanks to the MyRide app for iOS and Android. Just like the other rideshare apps, MyRide tells you exactly where and when your bus will arrive, so you know how long your wait time will be at any particular stop.
But the powerful MyRide app does more than just provide real-time bus locations and arrival/departure times. MyRide can also help you plan the route for your trip with SolTrans route maps right on your phone. It can also send you text alerts when your bus is close to arriving, and lists the closest bus stops complete with walking directions from wherever you are.
The MyRide app is free for both iOS and Android, and SolTrans still maintains its same low fares. With SolTrans and MyRide, you get the perfect mix of high tech and low cost.
If you want a sneak preview of how MyRide works, you can try MyRide on your computer to see exactly what it does. Using MyRide on your desktop requires no signup or registration, and is also very handy when trying to schedule your commute to or from work.
Simply click on the MyRide SolTrans link and you’ll see an interactive map of Solano County with every Soltrans route listed on the left-hand side. Clicking on any route will display that route’s map, the location of each bus in operation and each stop that bus makes. And when you click on the bus stop, you’ll see real-time displays of when that bus will arrive at that particular stop.
Feel free to test out the other MyRide features on your computer as well, like the Trip Planner that helps you set the exact course of your trip or the Set Alert feature that sends you an email alert before your bus’s arrival.
However, using the free MyRide app right on your smartphone does all this and more. Once you download MyRide, just click on “SolTrans” and MyRide displays every bus route on the SolTrans system. Click on a route and you get a route map showing the location of each bus and bus stop, just like on a desktop. Click on the bus and you see how many people are on board. Click on the stop and you get the exact time at which the bus will be arriving/departing from that stop.
The MyRide app also displays all of the SolTrans stops closest to you (along with the next arrival/departure time), a Trip Planner that plans your trip from door to door, and alerts that will send you handy departure-time push notifications with however much advance notice you prefer.
MyRide was developed by Avail Technologies. Avail Technologies has been around for more than 15 years and is dedicated to public transit solutions. And unlike most rideshare apps, MyRide actually offers a customer support telephone number in addition to email customer support.
And MyRide isn’t just for SolTrans. MyRide has integrations with Petaluma Transit, Napa VTA and Santa Rosa CityBus for when you’re getting around outside Solano County.
MyRide eliminates the need for transit maps, timetables and advance planning, because MyRide delivers all of this information right to your smartphone screen. Download the MyRide app today for a digital GPS transit tracking service that even the biggest Silicon Valley cities can’t offer. You won’t miss a bus again, and you sure won’t miss waiting around wondering when the next bus is coming.
With the MyRide app, you’ll never be late or lost again (well, not in Solano County, at least), and you’ll learn to better app-reciate the full SolTrans experience.
Everything you need to knowto begin your SolTrans journey today
With commuting costs adding up and Bay Area traffic getting worse, smart commuters and travelers are always looking for ways to ease the hassle of getting around.
Solano County commuters have a particularly modern and convenient option in SolTrans, a shining fleet of clean-energy buses that has connected Benicia, Vallejo and beyond for more than five years. SolTrans trips are affordable, and the eco-friendly bus rides all accomodate Clipper card users while leaving the driving to someone else.
The name SolTrans is not a reference to solar power—though SolTrans employs a number of green-energy hybrid buses and is adding a number of pure-electric buses this summer. Instead, the “Sol” stands for Solano, the northeast Bay Area county where SolTrans connects the cities of Vallejo, Benicia and Fairfield.
SolTrans also offers connections to the downtown San Francisco Ferry Building and to the greater Bay Area by connecting to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). What’s more, SolTrans connects to other regional transit services like Oakland’s AC Transit, Marin and Sonoma counties’ Golden Gate Transit, and Napa’s Vine—providing hassle-free, affordable access to the whole San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
The SolTrans Advantage
There are numerous advantages of riding SolTrans instead of driving. We’ll start with the obvious benefit of cost. As gas prices in the Bay Area continue to fluctuate, and with the hassles of finding and paying for parking climbing, SolTrans lets you travel the East Bay at a fraction of the total fee of driving.
In the increasingly traffic-congested Bay Area, SolTrans offers time management and convenience that traveling by automobile cannot afford. SolTrans riders can read, catch up on emails and get things done on the bus, with WiFi service on all SolTrans buses launching soon and more energy-efficient and fully electric buses on the way.
SolTrans is also an exceptionally safe method of transportation, winning national recognition for an exceptionally low incidence of accidents or injury. SolTrans buses are also bike-friendly, with bicycle storage on each bus.
Anyone who uses any form of Bay Area transit is familiar with the Clipper card, the all-in-one public transit smart card used by many Bay Area transit agencies. SolTrans is one of them, even offering a fare credit when transferring from SolTrans to the Vallejo-San Francisco Bay Ferry.
Summer Slice Promo for the Kids
SolTrans sizzles for kids and youth this summer, with a Summer Slice promotion that slices fares for ages 6 to 18. Through Aug. 31, kids get a Youth Local Day Pass for just $1. Yup, that’s all-day riding in one zone for just a dollar! Even better, a Youth Local 31-Day Pass is just $15, giving kids unlimited SolTrans transit in one zone for less than 50 cents a day.
If a SolTrans stop is not conveniently located for you, you can even schedule a Dial-A-Ride bus service (within the city of Benicia) for direct pickup at home and drop-off at your destination.
Much like a ride-sharing service (except much more affordable), Dial-A-Ride is the ideal option for ADA riders or anyone pressed for time. And there is no application process necessary; just phone one to three days in advance of your trip. ADA Paratransit-certified residents can also use the Solano County Intercity Taxi Scrip Program for same-day, curb-to-curb transportation on SolTrans offered at a reduced cost.
Real-time bus locations and estimates on SolTrans arrival times are available right on your smartphone via the MyRide app. And for drive-to-ride connections, 24-hour parking is available by the day or by the month at the Curtola Park & Ride Hub in Vallejo, allowing you to conveniently park your car and then enjoy the savings of SolTrans for the remainder of your trip. Additionally, as a bonus, Curtola currently allows you to charge your parked electric cars for free.
As the Bay Area gets ever more crowded and challenging to navigate, SolTrans provides an easier, greener and more affordable way to get around conveniently. With connections to most regional transit services, the greater Bay Area is just a SolTrans ride away.
SolTrans delivers safe, reliable and efficient transportation services that effectively link people, jobs and our communities. For more information, visit soltransride.com.