New bus routes added to accommodate Peninsula students

Route 81 will serve students in Menlo Park, Palo Alto

Students returning back to school in Peninsula will now have an easier, more convenient way to get to and from school thanks to four new bus routes that launched Monday, the San Mateo County Transit District announced.

The newly launched SamTrans Routes 18, 56, 61 and 81 will all serve schools throughout the county and are scheduled to coincide with school start and finish times, SamTrans officials said.

Bus Route 18 will shuttle students traveling between Half Moon Bay and Granada, serving students at Manuel F. Cunha Intermediate School and Half Moon Bay High School.

Bus Route 56 will travel throughout the city of San Mateo and was designed to cater to students at Aragon High School and the College of San Mateo, according to SamTrans officials.

Route 61 will operate primarily in San Carlos, taking students who traveling to Tierra Linda Middle School and Carlmont High School. The line will depart daily in the morning from the San Carlos Caltrain Station, allowing students coming from other areas on Caltrain to make a connection.

Lastly, Route 81 will serve students in Menlo Park and Palo Alto and was created to take students to and from Menlo-Atherton High School, SamTrans officials said.

The new lines are an addition to the nearly 40 already existing bus lines that primarily serve peninsula area schools, according to SamTrans officials.

The newly created lines will not operate when school is not in session, including weekends, SamTrans officials said.

Schedule changes and adjustments for SamTrans lines take place about three times a year, as a way to keep up with changing traffic impacts, travel patterns and bus operator availability, according to SamTrans officials.

For a complete list of bus schedules, riders can visit

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12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2016 at 8:41 am

It seems that Sam Trans is doing a better job of catering to school commutes than VTA. Unfortunately being on the cusp between the two we are ignored here in Palo Alto. Public transit that doesn't cross county borders when people's every day lives cross county borders every day is a ludicrous situation.

13 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2016 at 10:05 am

We agree that VTA and SamTrans need to combine their services. There is absolutely no benefit to the public for having 2 disjointed bus services on the peninsula.

5 people like this
Posted by VTA vs SamTrans
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 10, 2016 at 10:52 am

VTA vs SamTrans is a registered user.

Ironic that while SamTrans is increasing its service to better serve San Mateo residents while VTA is reducing or eliminating service.

8 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 10, 2016 at 11:59 am

jh is a registered user.

Instead of spending millions to reduce El Camino from three lanes to two for one bus line that money would be better spent increasing routes and coverage, not reducing them. Until VTA makes it more convenient for more people to get used to taking buses using buses, and get into the habit of doing so, the car culture will not change. And even then there is the problem of the first and last mile or two, especially if very hot or raining. Hardy souls won't mind, but the convenience of a comfy car on those days will far outweigh taking the bus, unless the stop is close to home and work.

9 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 10, 2016 at 12:04 pm

jh is a registered user.

In the short term fares should not be expected to cover the cost, but that's the price of changing the car culture. If fares cost a lot more than the gas, that will also discourage using public transport, especially for all the low paid people working in the restaurants, shops, etc. Train fares are too high for those folks.

5 people like this
Posted by Nice try but...
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 10, 2016 at 12:05 pm

I appreciate the effort, but we need to do better. The new route 81 is idiotic.

1) It runs at 3 different times in the morning to accommodate different start times (zero period vs first period start and 'block' days) but only a SINGLE time (and perhaps only a single bus) departing MA at the end of the day. Any student who participates in sports or other after school activity is then stranded. Why not a later run too?

2) Look at the route and timetable. It is INSANE (BTW good luck finding it if you don't know it's there. Click here: Web Link) It drives around in CIRCLES on some of the blocks that are totally jammed with traffic at rush hour. Why not run straight through on middle routes and let people just walk a couple of extra blocks? As it is, the <4 mile run from the far end of route 81 to MA takes nearly an hour (50 minutes)

And we wonder why public transit doesn't work well for us and why people say it is only for people without another option?

7 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 10, 2016 at 12:12 pm

jh is a registered user.

Probably more fun for the VTA staff to work on a big construction project, and then buy shiny new buses, than just adding lines which do nothing to burnish a resume. No fun in that. Look at the huge fleet of buses a previous manager ordered, shiny new articulated buses for a ridership that unlikely to fill a regular size bus. And then, they have the great difficulty getting the parts to repair them so there are huge numbers of then sitting in lots unused. (I believe the parts have to come from Germany where the buses were manufacture). Great for his ego though.

4 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm

"Returning back"?

4 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Aug 12, 2016 at 6:52 am

jh says, "Train fares are too high...."

Totally agree. Three zones (Palo Alto to San Francisco and back) on Clipper for three people (wife, son, me) is $46.50 (6 x $7.75). Parking and gas is half that.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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