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.”