Ridership for the more-frequent ECR service was up by 3% in October over the combined 390/391 routes that served El Camino Real in the previous year, according to the staff report for today’s SamTrans board meeting. The new service doubled the frequency of these routes to every 30 minutes.
Overall SamTrans ridership was up 2.3% to 46,070, after many months of declining ridership. If we are calculating correctly, the El Camino line accounted for about 30% of SamTrans ridership and about 40% of ridership growth.
In October, SamTrans kicked off a study of ways to improve the speed of El Camino as well, to meet the needs of a population expected to grow by 30% by 2040. The study will cover a range of potential improvements, such as limited service and bus signal priority – which would create a “Rapid” service like VTA’s 522 line – or potentially more substantial changes such as station ticketing machines and dedicated bus lanes, which would create an even faster “Bus Rapid Transit” system.
While El Camino Real runs parallel to Caltrain and is close by for the southern portion of San Mateo County – they diverge past easy walking distance in the City of San Mateo – the buses tend to serve shorter trips, with an average distance of about 5 miles, compared to over 20 miles for Caltrain.
Have you had a chance to ride the ECR since it was introduced? Does the increased frequency make it more appealing? Would you use the bus if it was faster?