The county Commission on Aging held it’s monthly meeting in American Canyon’s Senior Multi-use Center Monday. Among other agenda topics was one constant concern to senior’s: transportation.
Keith Caldwell, District 5 supervisor and chairman of the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency, brought news of changes in the county’s bus service, the VINE, beginning Dec. 3.
Caldwell unveiled a plan for new bus routes and schedules — mostly in Napa — in conjunction with the new Napa Transit Center and changes to special services at the county.
In general, VINE routes will be shorter and more frequent. One change that affects American Canyon, the north-south route from Calistoga to Vallejo, VINE Route 10, will be split into two routes: Calistoga to Napa and Napa to Vallejo. The change will help keep the busses on schedule, Caldwell said.
Caldwell said, because of federal funding requirements, service on Vine Go, a transportation service many seniors rely on, would be changed to eliminate standing reservations for rides.
In the past, some riders have made standing reservations for weeks or months out, Caldwell said, a violation of federal funding restrictions.
Nonprofit groups providing services to seniors will not be able to book rides.
“The easiest way to explain it is, under law Vine Go provides door-to-door service for those unable to ride the regular bus. It’s not for institutions or charter service,” said Tom Roberts, manager of public transit for the county, in a phone interview.
In order to supplement the Vine Go service, as of last summer groups and institutions that have transportation needs can get special charter rates, or even borrow a vehicle from the transportation agency.
Roberts said many people are unaware of the door-to-door service provided by American Canyon Transit.
“Don’t forget American Canyon Transit,” said Roberts. “People call up for VINE Go and when we ask if they’ve used American Canyon Transit, they say ‘what’s that?’” Roberts said American Canyon Transit buses deviate off regular routes for those needing door-to-door service.
According to Caldwell, ridership on American Canyon Transit is up 19 percent this year.
Caldwell explained the VINE has also instituted a Transit Ambassador Program which provides a “travel buddy” to teach people how to ride the bus. The ambassador will meet an individual and ride with him or her until that person feels comfortable.
Another innovation is the “Where’s My Bus?” application. Thanks to global positioning devices installed on Vine buses, the feature allows you to use your computer, smart phone or other web enabled portable device to see exactly when your bus will arrive at any bus stop in the system.
In other business, commissioners honored senior advocate Yvonne Baginski and Napa City Councilman Peter Mott for organizing last month’s Celebrating Seniors event in Napa.
The last time the Commission on Aging met in American Canyon was October 2011.
For information on VINE scheduling, VINE Go, the Transit Ambassador program and more, visit ridethevine.com website or call 707 251-2800.