Tri-Valley residents impacted by cuts to public transportation while sheltering in place will be able to get around easier when the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) service expands its newly rebranded Go Tri-Valley program at the end of the week.
Starting Friday, the rideshare program formerly known as Go Dublin will serve the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore in addition to its original namesake community.
The program’s expansion — made possible by a $260,000 grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District — was originally set for July, but LAVTA Board Chair David Haubert said, “We accelerated the launch of Go Tri-Valley in order to put in place a safety net mobility option as we reduce service on the Wheels bus system, or should we be forced to suspend all bus operations due to a lack of employees or by order of a local or state health organization.”
Wheels bus ridership has dropped dramatically since the coronavirus pandemic started — about 90% in some cases. LAVTA recently reduced bus service to around half of its normal service levels, and completely eliminated some routes altogether due to low ridership.
“The program provides an opportunity for shared ride travel to and from many areas that are currently unserved by LAVTA regular fixed routes,” the agency said in a press release.
Last year, LAVTA received the two-year grant so they could expand the program, which officials said “will follow the same subsidy model as Go Dublin, but will also permit trips between cities in LAVTA’s service area.”
Originally introduced three years ago as a pilot program, Go Tri-Valley offers discounted rideshare trips using Transportation Network Companies (TNC), Uber and Lyft. The original Go Dublin program paid for half of the cost of an UberPool or Lyft Line trip that started and ended within Dublin city limits, carrying around 1,500 passengers per month, according to LAVTA.
Tony McCaulay, LAVTA director of planning and marketing, told the Weekly that “after restrictions are lifted and the program matures, we would expect monthly program usage of about 2,500 to 3,000 (riders) per month.”
Social distancing concerns prompted Uber and Lyft to temporarily suspend their UberPool and Lyft Line shared ride services and, LAVTA said, “As a result, the Go Tri-Valley subsidy will initially be available on UberX and Lyft services until such time as the shared ride options resume operation.” Wheelchair accessible vehicles are also available through the Uber WAV program, which is eligible for the Go Tri-Valley discount. Dial-a-ride Paratransit and Para-Taxi services are also still available through LAVTA.
Go Tri-Valley passengers and drivers are still required by the Alameda County Public Health Department to wear face masks while using the program. LAVTA reminds the public that only essential travel is permitted at this time, including “performing tasks or activities essential to personal or family health and safety such as obtaining necessary services and supplies, including perishable goods, food and medical supplies.”
For more details about the Go Tri-Valley program, visit wheelsbus.com.
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