ANTIOCH (KPIX) – Ever since the new e-BART station in Antioch opened, the tiny parking lot has been filled by 6:30 every morning, making it essentially a drop-off only train station. BART seems OK with that but the local communities are not, so they’re trying something different.
Monday morning, Tri Delta Transit kicked off an app-based bus service called, Tri My Ride that will pick people up at their homes in neighborhoods within about 2 miles of the Antioch and Pittsburg BART stations.
The shuttle service works similar to Uber with riders posting an online request for a lift to or from BART and a few nearby shopping areas.
“This is basically on-demand transit,” said Tri Delta Transit Marketing Manager, Maria Korbay. “It’s really a unique offering where you can order a bus from your smart phone like you can order everything else, right?”
The small shuttles can operate in residential areas that would be too narrow for full-size buses. An algorithm processes the requests as they come in to create the most efficient pickup schedule and the app can track the location of the bus in real-time.
The cost of Tri My Ride is only 2 dollars, less than a parking space at many BART stations. Although it may boost ridership on the trains, BART is not contributing anything to establish the new service.
“No, this is not a BART endeavor,” Korbay said. “This is us meeting our community…the community’s demands.”
Local officials in suburban areas have long been frustrated by BART’s unwillingness to provide adequate parking in areas that don’t have the frequent bus service of urban cities. It has created intense competition just to find a place to park.
“I think it’s become the new norm to get to the BART station an hour and a half before your train,” said Korbay, “and that’s part of your commute. It happens here every day.”
Antioch City Councilmember Monica Wilson says BART operates its suburban stations as if they were in the middle of a big city.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said, “when you have a BART board member that says, ‘oh, well, people can bike to the BART station.’ Well, ok, the person lives 5 miles from the BART station…they’re going to ride 5 miles?”
Tri My Ride is designed to give people a better experience getting to and from the stations, a concept known in transportation circles as “first mile/last mile.” By improving that, they hope to change the minds of suburban drivers who have given up on public transportation.
On Monday, the service was brand new and not well known, so they only had one rider all morning. Transit officials don’t know what the demand will be, but they have four shuttles ready to put into service as demand grows.
The service is currently part of a 6-month pilot program and operates Monday through Friday, 5 am to 8 pm.