VINE buses delayed during BottleRock

Festival withdrew offer of added buses on long routes
2013-05-16T14:26:00Z 2014-05-01T14:37:40Z VINE buses delayed during BottleRockPETER JENSEN Napa Valley Register
May 16, 2013 2:26 pm  • 

The Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency’s staff could hear the music from last weekend’s BottleRock music festival just fine, given their proximity to the Napa Valley Expo at their location at the Soscol Gateway Transit Center.

The effects of the festival didn’t end there. Routes on NCTPA’s VINE bus system ran 15 to 30 minutes late because of the traffic flowing into the festival, but they were shorter delays than originally feared.

These delays led to problems for riders trying to connect to other routes, said NCTPA Executive Director Kate Miller.

Miller also expressed disappointment that the organizers of BottleRock, Gabe Meyers and Bob Vogt, backed out on a pledge to pay for additional bus service on NCTPA’s regional routes 10, 11 and 29, which run the length of the Napa Valley and were the most delayed by the festival.

“I had hoped that they could negotiate in good faith,” Miller said. “It’s unfortunate that the organizers made so many promises they couldn’t keep.”

NCTPA believed it would get six extra buses through BottleRock’s transportation contractor, Bauer, that would go to the 10, 11 and 29 routes. The agency would also add four of its own buses, depleting its fleet, to local VINE routes in the city of Napa.

Miller said the agency had attended meetings with BottleRock organizers that were facilitated by the city of Napa, and had contact with Bauer and an attorney. Organizers didn’t notify NCTPA they were pulling the offer of extra buses; NCTPA learned through Bauer, Miller said last week.

The extra buses were intended to target routes that were delayed in traffic snarls. Rather than waiting for a bus to work through the delay, a bus would be added to that route at other stops.

BottleRock spokesman Tom Fuller said last week that the organizers were paying for dedicated shuttle buses to get festivalgoers back and forth from outlying parking lots. The festival would have paid for the supplemental VINE buses if they felt they were needed, he said.

Fuller did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.

Miller said the transit agency spent $10,000 to put extra buses and drivers on routes to help keep them on time, as well as $8,000 on security for the transit center. The festivalgoers behaved themselves, she said.

“We had no vandalism,” Miller said. “There was no garbage anywhere. The unruly drunk crowds that everybody was talking about just didn’t materialize.”

Looking to next year’s festival, which Meyers and Vogt announced plans for Sunday, Miller said her agency will look to partner with local hotels to advertise the VINE’s services, and get a link to NCTPA onto the festival’s website.

She said she hopes the organizers won’t close one lane of Soscol Avenue near the fairgrounds next time, as that worsened the traffic and lengthened the bus systems’ delays.

She noted that BottleRock was the first major event at the fairgrounds that NCTPA has gone through since the transit center was moved from Pearl Street to Fourth and Burnell streets

“There’s probably a lot of lessons that were learned,” Miller said. “Staff had a blast because the sound system was phenomenal. They showed the town a really good time.”

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(8) Comments

  1. Native Daughter
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    Native Daughter - May 16, 2013 3:39 pm
    There needs to be a shuttle service within the city of Napa during the festival--especially during the hours local bus service ends for the day. I thought that I was doing "the right thing" by taking a city bus to BottleRock, but got stuck downtown (I just couldn't walk anymore!) with no way to get a cab home. (Minimum 1 hr. wait. My sister picked me up.) Or, of course, perhaps the Vine should just run until at least midnight during the festival. I looked all over the BottleRock website for information about transportation within the city to no avail. Apparently that's because there was no info to be had. And I just don't want to ride a bicycle home that late and so tired.
  2. LocalYocal
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    LocalYocal - May 16, 2013 5:29 pm
    Considering nobody rides VINE, yes this is tolerable.
  3. bluecollardoctor
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    bluecollardoctor - May 17, 2013 8:37 am
    In my experience the 10N is consistently 20min or more late so this seems consistent with standard operating procedure for the Vine. Why don't they just do what Amtrak does and pad their schedule so they can say they are on time.
    Also, adding more busses to a route is not going to make it take any less time to reach a destination unless they are so packed with riders that they turn some away. So i think BottleRock probably realized this and decided it was a waste of money.
  4. publiusa
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    publiusa - May 17, 2013 9:16 am
    The NCTPA can't even function when it come to running a few buses and helping out with traffic management. We need a new manager who can get out of the office, find the problems and act swiftly on her feet to solve transportation issues. Why else do we pay these people massive and outrageous salaries and benefits?
  5. NCTPA Staff
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    NCTPA Staff - May 17, 2013 9:38 am
    Since changes to the bus system in December the VINE has seen 5 consecutive months of double digit (20%-35%) ridership growth. We are grateful to all our riders and the patience they showed during the Bottle Rock event. The catch up buses deployed made a significant difference in minimizing delays on various routes and had Bottle Rock buses been added, the delays would have been further minimized. As it relates to Native Daughter's comment, because bus drivers can only drive a maximum number of hours per day, we could not run the buses later. Ironically, our original proposal to Bottle Rock was for them to promote locals riding the VINE to the event, then Bottle Rock use their buses to run our same routes after 7 PM until midnight so people could get home. This would have made the best use of existing resources, cost Bottle Rock less than running their own shuttles all day, and been a win-win. They rejected this idea. Next year? Tom Roberts-Manager of Public Transit
  6. Report Abuse
    - May 17, 2013 10:39 am
    Frankly the communication of city bus arrival times at bus stop locations did not jive with the Bottle Rock communications and I found Bottle Rockers waiting at bus stops for buses that arrived and were not going downtown. It is hilarious that Green Mary was operating in the area were additional buses are stored on 3rd and I found it interesting that there were 7 buses there, including the Trolleys that were supposedly sold? Absolutely supportive of telling some city people to get of their haunches and get their work kit together. Hey if you work for the city of Napa it is not yours to question the task but to get it done thats what you are paid for. Were does your employment contract say that your own boss resides in your own head and you listen to that board of bosses and not to the city of Napa or those who pay your wage.
  7. Report Abuse
    - May 17, 2013 10:42 am
    Last, should BRNV pay for everything that the city must do to host the event? Is it enough that BRNV is forking over 400,000$ to the city for city services?
  8. publiusa
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    publiusa - May 17, 2013 2:13 pm
    These comments from Mr. Roberts are right out of the play book of the incompetent bureaucrat. We don't care for your excuses Mr. Roberts. The public transit in this county is a tragic mess and you are the manager...fix it!. There are constant written complaints in this news paper about your service but always the excuses. You say there is a 20% to 35% increase in ridership?? That still is only one or two people more in hundreds of buses you run nearly empty all the time...then you buy new $500,000 buses because they save some fuel? Ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars. Go to Mexico and see what kind of buses they have...old beaters but full of riders. You could issue taxi scrip to all your riders and really do some good by eliminating a huge number of buses and drivers and certainly eliminate some unnecessary NCTPA staff, stop destroying the pavement, stop filling the air full of diesel and scrambling traffic.
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