SamTrans cuts peak Palo Alto-San Francisco bus service

An overhaul of SamTrans' system means less bus access from Palo Alto to San Francisco

A series of sweeping, system-wide changes for SamTrans means that Palo Alto residents now must hop-scotch through bus transfers and BART to get to and from San Francisco as of Sunday, Jan. 26.

SamTrans has changed every line in its service and is increasing the number of bus routes from 49 to 73. The overhaul represents the most comprehensive alteration of bus service on the Peninsula in more than a decade, according to SamTrans officials. The changes include altered bus stops, routes or schedules for almost all passengers.

Palo Alto riders now must make transfers using the ECR line, which runs about every 15 minutes on weekdays and 20 minutes on weekends along El Camino Real from the downtown Caltrain station to the Daly City BART station. Riders can then switch to BART trains to San Francisco.

SamTrans' "KX" bus line, which served both cities during peak hours, now excludes Palo Alto and operates between Redwood City and San Francisco on weekdays. Palo Alto passengers can reach the Redwood City station by taking the 296 bus from East Palo Alto and then transfer to Line 398 to the Daly City BART station. A limited route from the Palo Alto Transit Center to Redwood City, Line 297, runs from 3:45 a.m. to 12:22 p.m.

The only direct route remaining from Palo Alto to downtown San Francisco is Line 397, but that bus runs only from 12:48 a.m. to 4:54 a.m., according to SamTrans schedules.

Menlo Park riders will lose Line 295, which runs to San Mateo. The line will now travel between San Mateo and the San Carlos Caltrain Station. A new weekday route, 286, provides service between the Menlo Park Caltrain station and Sharon Park.

East Palo Alto riders will see changes to Line 281, with improved frequency to every 15 minutes on weekdays. But the route won't serve the Hamilton/Almanor/Ivy area. Instead, it will travel along Ringwood Avenue to reach Newbridge Street. The Line 280 schedule between East Palo Alto and Stanford Shopping Center will also be adjusted to avoid duplication with 281.

"It is critical that SamTrans make these changes for the long-term survival of the agency. After years of budget shortfalls and declining ridership, SamTrans must take action to more efficiently align its resources to meet demand and stabilize and grow its ridership," the agency said in a statement.

SamTrans began a bus rapid transit study in November that could improve service for the 26-mile El Camino Real corridor from Daly City to the Palo Alto Transit Center. Currently, there are 29,000 car trips along El Camino each day. With San Mateo County's population and job market projected to increase by 30 percent by 2040, congestion in this corridor is also expected to increase.

SamTrans will also consider adding dedicated bus lanes and improved transit stations in the long-term. Recommendations will be presented to the San Mateo County Transit District Board of Directors in spring or summer 2014.

The new bus schedules and routes are available at Customer assistance is available through 800-660-4287(TTY 650-508-6448).


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm

It is so short sighted to have all these different agencies around the Bay. We should have one system for bus, rail, ferry, and they should merge all their admin. It is service to the public and increasing options that would make a big difference to the traffic around the Bay.

I doubt very much they have considered getting rid of some administrators or shared routes with other services as options.

And, it is still impossible to find a regular bus service from downtown Palo Alto to SFO or SJC.

1 person likes this
Posted by Dumkopfen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

A really, really bad move on the part of SamTrans

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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 27, 2014 at 1:56 pm

The KX was the way to get to SFO from PA or MP.
Does anyone know why MP and PA City Councils have so little weight with SamTrans?
This is really terrible for us in MP and PA.
However, the disdain SamTrans has for any place south of Redwood City has been obvious for a long time, and city governments should have seen that and taken whatever steps they could have taken.
That said, SamTrans has done a terrible thing.

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Posted by wtf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm

the ''WTf''move of the day.

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Posted by JRG
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I agree with all of the above. Getting to SFO conveniently is impossible by public transport though Ca;Train does get one to SJC, To the City, CalTrain is the only way to go. I will miss the old KX. Bummer!

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I still think of that Samtrans line as the old 7F.

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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:52 am

If you call 1-800-660-4287, SamTrans's number, option 2 is for Caltrain. SamTrans and Caltrain aren't that separate, but jealousy got ignited. It wasn't simply that once the recovery came along, Caltrain bounced back and SamTrans didn't.
No, employers got Caltrain GO passes for their employees and SamTrans had no passes.
The GO pass, I'm convinced, is the thing that killed the KX... the wonderful old 7F.
But we should NOT let this happen. We should reverse it.

2 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Just Fly San Jose

An absolutely stupid move by Sam Trans.
Public Transit should be encouraging people to leave their cars HOME.

To do that, there needs to be service WHERE TO and WHEN people need it.

FWIW When we went on out Honeymoon to the UK, we rode the good old '7F' to and from the Airport (3 weeks later) No parking 'worries' or fees.

We need true REGIONAL transit. Not just for those with commuter passes which allow a bus ride from the train.
Train Stations and Airports need to be Public Transit Hubs. By a singe ticket to get HOME

Wait! The Taxi and Limo drivers oppose Public transit.
Wait! SF (SFO) would lose all those EXPENSIVE Airport Permit FEES that Taxis,Limos and private buses pay

SHAME on you city hall

1 person likes this
Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:18 am

How true it is that there should just be one system.
And no petty jealousy - Caltrain recovered and we didn't - none of that.
Another point: transit agencies should know how people hate having to transfer. Going to the airport, and all the airport/air travel involves, is terribly stressful. Now we have to add in the stressful need to transfer.
Most likely, what people will have to do is take the train to Millbrae and BART to SFO. That is so complicated and so expensive.
KX also took us to a good place in San Francisco, not Daly City as the SamTrans ECR does, and not the place the train reaches.
Meanwhile, I don't want to hear a word about "green" until this bus is brought back.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:51 am

No Caltrain early enough for those first flights out of SJC in the morning. Always fun to ride the VTA 22 in the pre-dawn hour, betting everything on the 5:19 Airport Flyer connection at Santa Clara.

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Posted by Amazed
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

What a shame that each city (officials, companies and riders) and SamTrans decision makers did not communicate, so everyone would be on the same page. Why would a decision like this come out of the blue? It looks bad.

Furthermore, there is always talk of losing a car lane on El Camino Real, a state highway, giving it over to buses, at the expense of drivers. Then we have the Association of Bay Area Governments requiring nearby cities to build more and more housing on El Camino Real, because it would be close to transport.

It appears as if everyone has their own agenda and decision makers are not in communication with each other, with policy makers or with the public, that pays the price for poor decisions, all the way around.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:17 am

This is a serious development. KX is my preferred way to get to & from SFO, and before that the old 7F. Losing it is going to be a real pain, putting my car back on the road with a single driver and incurring significant parking costs.
I guess I can explore the Caltrain/BART SFO extension but that is going to be less convenient and more expensive. I usually took an early morning KX and there were always some riders by the time it stopped for me next to MA Shell. I'm not sure how SamTrans can ignore this obvious need. Does it really cost that much more to have the KX connect to the Palo Alto transit center?

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Posted by City Council take note
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

This is the public transportation system around which we optimistically build dense housing. Back in your cars, everyone!

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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm

What Dumb****s.

1 person likes this
Posted by Bloated bureaucracies make bad decisions
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

The bloated bureaucracies of these multiple transit authorities need to be completely restructured. Lots of heads would have to roll, and they don't want that. Their first job, as they see it, is to protect engineering jobs. Their second job is to occasionally take care of transit issues when they are not busy accumulating funds and power to maintain control their individual feifdoms. Caltrain, Caltrans, HSRA, VTA MTC--What a tangled mess. They don't collaborate. They work at cross purposes and WORSE, they don't really have much interest in serving the needs of "outlying" (Yes. That's what they call us.) communities like Palo Alto.

We need ONE transit authority for all of the Bay area. It can't operate like VTA, controlled by a County Board of Supervisors that gives most of the votes (power) to one city (in their case, San Jose). There needs to be a controlling authority that provides a VOICE for all users. That may mean they need to be directly elected.

2 people like this
Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Business Decision wrote "Most likely, what people will have to do is take the train to Millbrae and BART to SFO. That is so complicated and so expensive."

I totally agree. And when CalTrain is running late, AND then one has to sit in a BART train at Millbrae for up to 20 minutes, AND then get on a SkyTrain at SFO, it's very easy to land up in the middle of the crowds going through Security and almost miss one's plane. I speak from direct experience.

This area is in the Stone Age as far as public transit is concerned--it's truly pathetic. The "Old World" is so much more progressive and enlightened--and egalitarian.

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Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:03 pm

As others have said, the loss of the KX line from PA to SFO (and on to San Francisco) is a great loss. When we are trying to reduce traffic, the city should be working hard with county governments and Caltrain to provide efficient mass transit between our cities. My ride to SFO on the KX cost only $4 -- $2 for the VTA#22 to the PA transit center and then $2 to SFO. Why was this practically a secret? I used the 7F and then the KX for 20+ years but I NEVER saw anything in our local news that publicized this efficient and cheap way to get to SFO and I rarely saw SFO travelers on the bus. The City needs to work with Samtrans to reinstate a route from PA transit center to SFO. Perhaps the City of PA needs to contribute. Then we need to publicize the benefits (less smog, relax and read while traveling, cheaper, no driving in traffic, no asking favors of neighbors for a lift to the airport, no airport parking fees, etc., etc.).

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Posted by JoAnn
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:44 am

Paratransit is just as badly managed. Each county has its own service so to go to San Francisco in a wheelchair requires three different agencies. And did I mention that they're always late, so you have to allow a big window for each transfer? Needless to say, I will never try this.

They also have various stupid rules that I'm convinced are designed to drive away customers. For instance, the only transfer point from Santa Clara's Outreach to or from San Mateo's Rediwheels is at Stanford Hospital, that low-traffic transit hub. And while Rediwheels vehicles bring their people all over Palo Alto, Outreach will not cross the county line. I'm convinced VTA wants to drive off all the customers -- after all, regular buses have ramps now, right? -- and absorb the budget back to their own uses.

This is all a ridiculous mess in an era in which we need more and better public transportation, not less.

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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:52 am

SamTrans 397 "owl"
leave Palo Alto 2:48 a.m. arrive SFO 4:02 a.m.
This service is at 1st and Mission at 4:52
leave SFO at 2, 3, 4, or 5 a.m., get to PA at 22 minutes past the hour
leave at 2, get there 3:22
leave Mission and 1st at 1:09 a.m., get to PA 3:22
that's it, folks

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Posted by Marko
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I have kept sending messages to Sam Trans' customer service and asked them to keep the KX line. But one person is not enough. Please contact them as well. I thought they would keep the peak period both ways but hell: they have 3 northbound buses in the morning and 3 southbound in the afternoon - only on weekdays. What a joke.

The relatively low ridership on KX is a result of unbelievable policy:
that KX bus - on the paper - did not allow the big luggage - what is the point to provide public transit to the airport? And BART is so corrupted, overpriced and financially mismanaged, that I assume that managements went hand in hand for this "great" deal.

I am going to contact Metropolitan Transportation Authority about this. Please join me as well. Effective public transit is a must for highly populated bay area and for climate protection.

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Posted by Public Transit
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2014 at 12:01 pm

There's a huge disconnect between planning and reality. There weren't enough riders so the bus lines were changed. We're building higher density housing that relies on public transportation. But public transportation doesn't go where people want to go. All the trains are effectively "north-south". El Camino and Cal Train are viewed as primary routes. Yet most people need to go
"east west". We'll never build enough affordable housing to meet near unlimited demand. So if people are living inland towards the east, how will they make it to Palo Alto? They won't. So we ought to stop planning our land use based on a fallacy of "functional" public transportation.

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Posted by jo g
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2014 at 11:10 am

Change in schedule is a bummer! I have spent hours trying to figure out a reasonable way from PA to SFO. I've ended up with shuttles - expensive - or a convoluted Caltrain-Bart or bus combination. Bring back the old KX - 7F. Admit you erred and move back!

2 people like this
Posted by Mike G.
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 6, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Cutting the KX from Palo ALto to SFO was a very inconvenient bad move. No wonder public transit is so mess up in this area. So short sighted. Make money for Bart in the short term. Now south bay riders have to run around Bart stations to get to SFO.

2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 7, 2014 at 10:53 am

I talked to a teacher at a function last night who lives up the peninsula and teaches at San Jose State. If they take public transportation it would be a two hour trip bouncing through CALTRAIN and Lite Rail. BART does not intersect for their purposes. So the car is the only way to get from point A to Point B is a less than reasonable manner. End result is that the teacher will take a job at a start-up in SF. So much for public transportation - it is great if it goes where you want to go but most places require some other function to get to the destination. Urbanization A to urbanization B does not connect.

3 people like this
Posted by Dumas
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Stupidest thing SamTrans has ever done!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Southgate

on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:18 am

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