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RE: Willow Overpass - Shuttle Service Plagued with Issues

From: Obeso, Angela R <"Obeso,>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2017 00:11:17 +0000

Hi Ms. Dollente,

Thank you again for letting us know about your concerns with the Caltrans Willow-101 construction shuttle service. The City is very concerned with the issues you’ve raised, and we’re committed to making sure that this Caltrans shuttle is meeting our community’s needs. City staff has met with Caltrans and the shuttle contractor and discussed each of your concerns. Here are some main points from that discussion:

The shuttle provider will be preparing a FAQ specific to our route to be distributed to all of the dispatchers and the drivers to ensure that they all have the same information all the time. The inconsistencies you have experienced may have been a result of shift changes in either dispatchers and/or drivers, so the shuttle operator will be providing consistent communications to all of their staff. This FAQ will include information such as: all shuttles have bike racks, all shuttles will assist mobility restricted riders (such as wheelchairs, crutches, etc.), all shuttles have lift equipment to assist riders onto the shuttle, locations of the shuttle stops, etc. If there is any other specific information you feel is important to be included, please let me know.

This route has been assigned the same group of drivers. Each driver handles an 8 hour shift. Your son’s experience with different drivers may have been the different shifts or different days. I have been assured by the shuttle operator that the only time a new driver may be on this route is if one of the drivers is on vacation or sick leave and one of the other regular drivers cannot fill in. This should be uncommon. One consistent driver is scheduled for the Monday-Friday morning shift and two consistent drivers are scheduled for the Monday-Friday afternoon shift. Hopefully the riders and drivers will begin to recognize and know each another.

We spoke quite a bit about the delay issues and ways to address delays. Typically, the same shuttle is located on the route at all times. Once a month, they bring out another shuttle so that the regular shuttle can be maintained. There is never to be a time when a shuttle is not in the route area. The delays experienced may have been due to breakdowns or traffic congestion on Willow Road. In any event, these delays are not acceptable. The shuttle operator understands the importance of meeting the response times required.

In the event of a breakdown, they send a backup shuttle from one of their yards, either San Francisco or Santa Clara, depending on the shortest commute, in order to get an operating shuttle here as soon as possible. During the time period you mentioned, there were two breakdowns, which is likely what your son experienced. My understanding is that these were on the extremely hot days we had, so the weather was likely a factor in the breakdowns. I have been assured by the shuttle operator that this is not typical and the monthly maintenance prevents most of the common issues.

Depending on the destination, another possible option for bike access during construction is the bicycle/pedestrian bridge at Ringwood Avenue. A map of this detour route can be found here: http://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/15471

Regarding the concern about the drivers assisting riders with putting bikes on the bike racks, the shuttle operator is looking into this further. The initial concern is from a liability standpoint; the drivers are instructed to not assist due to possible issues with injuries and property damage. However, Caltrans and the City are currently working with them on a solution that will enable them to assist riders with the bike racks. In the meantime, the rider can ask the driver to explain how to use the racks to make sure that they are placing and securing the bike(s) properly. The drivers have been instructed to do this.

We additionally discussed improvements in the signage on the streets and on the shuttle, so look for some improvements there as well. Again, if you have any suggestions about how to improve this communication, please let me know.

I truly appreciate you taking the time to let us know about these important concerns and I hope that this addresses them. Please do let me know if you continue to experience any of the concerns, have any other concerns and also if you see positive improvements as the shuttle service continues. The City, Caltrans and the shuttle operator are all very dedicated to making this service work for the community, so your feedback is very important.

Thank you,
Angela


Angela R. Obeso, PE, Senior Transportation Engineer
City of Menlo Park – Transportation Division
701 Laurel St. | Menlo Park, CA 94025
Direct 650-330-6739 | General 650-330-6740 | Fax 650-327-5497
ARObeso_at_(domainremoved)opark.org>
[City Logo NEW White Bkground Aug2014]

From: Maureen Dollente [mailto:mdollente_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2017 8:55 PM
To: _CCIN <councilmail_at_(domainremoved)
Cc: Thomas Dollente <tdollente_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Willow Overpass - Shuttle Service Plagued with Issues

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dear City Council,

My son rides his bike to school and has to cross the 101 Freeway on Willow. Since he started school after Labor Day, he has experienced the following issues over the past 2 weeks:

- Shuttle has broken down at least twice, causing over an hour delay and making my son late to school and/or after school activities.
- On multiple occasions, when he called for the shuttle, he was told that they did not have a bike rack and therefore he could not use the shuttle
- There seems to be a new driver on most days - apparently there is significant turnover of personnel - no consistency
- Multiple delays - the shuttle should not take more than 10-15 min to get over the freeway during non-peak hours when my son is going to school (his school starts at 9:30 am and finishes at 3:10 pm). When he has called for the shuttle, they don't come and he calls again, only to speak to a different person who doesn't know what's going on.
- If you are an elderly or disabled person and ride a bike, you cannot use the shuttle as the drivers say they are not allowed to help with lifting the bike onto the bike rack. Therefore, elderly and disabled persons are prevented from crossing the freeway over Willow. My son has low muscle tone and it is not easy for him to lift his bike and snap the straps which require considerable hand/finger strength. This seems like discrimination.

This poor level / lack of service is unacceptable, given bicyclists are not allowed to cross the freeway over Willow for this year and all of next year. The service is advertised as available 24x7 and available to transport bikes. Both my husband and I work, so it is not an option to drive our son to and from school.

Going forward, I have instructed my son to keep a detailed log of these incidents for reference.

Please let me know ASAP what your plan is to resolve these issues and when we can expect them to be resolved, given the hardship this situation presents to our family and our son who needs to get to and from school.


Regards,
Maureen Dollente
(650) 281-1099 mobile

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Received on Wed Sep 27 2017 - 17:16:39 PDT

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