SamTrans Board of Directors Appoints April Chan as New GM/CEO:
In October, the San Mateo County Transit District (District) Board of Directors unanimously appointed April Chan to be its next General Manager/CEO, making her the first female to lead the agency in its history.
Chan is a 20-plus-year veteran of the Authority. She is succeeding Acting Executive Director Carter Mau, who is retiring after decades of work as a public servant helping to advance mobility options for people throughout the region.
In her new role, Chan also will serve as Executive Director of the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, which administers the Measure A and Measure W transportation sales taxes to fund transportation projects county-wide. She will be responsible for services provided by the District to both the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Authority, which owns and operates the Caltrain commuter railroad, and the San Mateo County Express Lanes Joint Powers Authority.
Chan has been an employee of the District since April 2000 in positions of increasing responsibility, rising through the ranks from Senior Planner, Capital Programming and Grants to Chief Officer, Planning, Grants and Transportation Authority and Acting Deputy General Manager.
Highlights of Chan’s tenure in the agency include:
- Providing executive leadership and oversight for the Reimagine SamTrans comprehensive operational analysis, which overhauled the entire bus route network.
- Collaborating with state, federal, and regional partner agencies, as well as private employers, to secure full funding ($550 million) for the San Mateo County U.S 101 Express Lanes project.
- Serving on the executive team that provided direction for the completion of the first-ever equity study in the SF Bay Area region for express lanes, resulting in a San Mateo County Express Lanes Equity Program that provides community benefits to eligible disadvantaged county residents with either fare or express lane subsidies.
- Leading the application process for a $647 million federal Core Capacity grant for the Caltrain Electrification Program, and working with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Caltrain's partners agencies to secure over $2 billion in funding for the project.
- Initiating a study of the Dumbarton Bridge corridor area to assess potential transbay transportation solutions to help alleviate extensive traffic congestion in an area of expanding growth.
New Bus Network Results in Ridership Gains:
The result of a three-year effort to refresh the bus system with the goal of improving service and responding to changing ridership in San Mateo County, Phase One of the new SamTrans route network, went into effect in August. Reimagine SamTrans streamlined the bus system with consolidated and more efficient services, new route numbers, and improved frequency for riders, while also advancing equity, customer experience and efficiency as guiding principles in the new SamTrans route system.
SamTrans continues to regain ridership as it recovers from the pandemic. In September 2022, SamTrans carried approximately 76.9% of the passengers carried in September 2019, showing how far SamTrans has come since the beginning of the pandemic.
SamTrans Approved the Purchase of 30 Zero-Emission Buses
The SamTrans Board of Directors voted to replace 30 diesel buses with 20 battery electric buses (BEB) and 10 Hydrogen-fuel cell electric buses (FCEB). SamTrans will be introducing a mix of BEBs and FCEBs to assess how the two technologies perform under different conditions, which can serve which routes better and what it would require to meet their infrastructure needs.
The purchases award a $13.9 million contract with New Flyer of America for the FCEBs and a $22.8 million contract with Gillig LLC of Livermore, California for the BEBs. The purchase is funded by a combination of federal, State and SamTrans sales tax funds. The new buses will replace the 2009 40-foot diesel buses, some of the oldest vehicles in the SamTrans fleet. The new 40-foot buses will be used throughout the SamTrans service area and can carry approximately 38 seated passengers with up to another 18 riders standing. Like all SamTrans buses, the new buses have priority seating for seniors and people with disabilities and exterior bike racks that can accommodate up to three bikes.
Free SamTrans Youth Unlimited Pass Became a Permanent Program
The SamTrans Board approved a program that will permanently give low-income students free rides on all SamTrans buses. The SamTrans Youth Unlimited Pass Program was designed in partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education. All students that are classified as Socioeconomically Disadvantaged (SED) by the California Department of Education are qualified for the Youth Unlimited Pass. SED students include students that are eligible for the Free and Reduced-Price Meal program, students experiencing homelessness, foster youth, migrant students or students whose parents did not graduate high school.
Participating students and parents received a survey in early April that provided SamTrans with information regarding the effectiveness of the program. More than 300 students or their parents/guardians participated in the survey. The overall goals of the pilot program were to reduce transportation costs for families with financial challenges, attract new and more frequent riders, and understand the potential operational impacts of providing free fares to a subset of youth riders.
El Camino Real Bus Speed and Reliability Study Aims to Keep the Peninsula Moving Forward
The SamTrans Board approved the El Camino Real Bus Speed and Reliability Study. The ECR Study analyzed the impact of traffic congestion on bus service on El Camino Real and identified recommended improvements to help achieve faster and more reliable bus service. Public outreach was conducted in spring 2022 and the community was asked to provide input on the draft improvements to inform the final report.
Route ECR is the backbone of the SamTrans bus network, serving a quarter of the agency’s riders along its 25-mile run through 13 cities. The study proposes potential improvements that would make that route, and others that use El Camino Real, more efficient, and reliable to improve the experience for both operators and riders, and to help attract new riders. Some of the recommended improvements include bus stop balancing and relocation, bus bulbs, queue jumps and bus-only lanes.
Hometown Holidays Holiday Bus
On Saturday, December 10, a custom decorated SamTrans holiday bus made its 11th appearance in downtown Redwood City for the annual Hometown Holidays Festival & Parade. The event featured a parade, live entertainment, carnival rides, photos with Santa in the History Museum, and a children’s carnival. SamTrans also had free SamTrans-branded Santa hats for attendees.
Art Takes a Bus Ride
SamTrans had the opportunity of hosting the annual county-wide student art competition Art Takes a Bus Ride. The awards ceremony also marked the beginning of Transit Month, which celebrates the role of transit in the Bay Area. The artists, who are in first through 12th grade, were asked to illustrate the theme “San Mateo County Reopens.” This was the 16th year that SamTrans has partnered with the San Mateo County Office of Education to sponsor the contest, which engages students in the classroom and emphasizes arts in the community. More than 150 submissions were received this year from schools throughout San Mateo County. A panel composed of members from the San Mateo County Arts Commission selected the winning contestants.
The students, accompanied by their families and teachers, were honored by SamTrans Board Chair Peter Ratto, and were then treated to the unveiling of two special SamTrans buses featuring the students’ works of art. The two wrapped buses will be operating in regular SamTrans service for the next year throughout San Mateo County. The winning artists received a framed copy of the bus ad card showcasing their art and SamTrans gifts. Their teachers received a gift certificate for arts supplies.
- SamTrans installed Wi-Fi on every vehicle in its bus fleet, allowing SamTrans riders to use the internet while on board.
- SamTrans successfully completed a pilot project for a cloud-based transit signal priority system (iTSP) in East Palo Alto that allowed bus riders to move through the high traffic corridor more easily and efficiently.
- The District reached an agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1574 for a new four-year contract that included three annual wage increases for SamTrans’ bus operators, utility workers, storekeepers, customer service representatives and receptionists.
In an effort to be inclusive and celebrate the diversity of the riders we serve, the SamTrans Board approved special recognition for African American History Month, Women’s HIstory Month, Arab American Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month, Filipino American History Month and Native American Heritage Month.
SamTrans launched its new “Next Stop: SamTrans E-Newsletter.” Next Stop will be released bi-monthly to inform and engage readers about the latest special projects, announcements, or service changes at SamTrans.