Ride The S News - Summer 2023

StanRTA News, Summer 2023, version 4

Free Rides July

Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority (The S), Merced County Transit (The Bus), and the City of Turlock (Turlock Transit) provided free rides on all fixed-route, commuter, and ADA paratransit buses during July 2023 as part of a joint free-ride promotion. Providing free ride opportunities significantly improves public transit in various ways, as it encourages more people to use public transportation and creates a range of positive effects for the transit systems, passengers, and the community as a whole.

Funding for the joint free-ride promotion was made possible through a grant from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) under the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) and federal transit funding. 

By eliminating the cost barrier, free rides in July attracted new passengers who might have previously opted for other modes of transportation or stayed at home. The influx of new riders in July increased overall ridership, which leads to more efficient use of transit resources. StanRTA experienced a 33 percent increase in ridership from July 2022 to July 2023 on its regular fixed routes, an 11 percent increase over the same time period for its commuter routes, and a 35 percent increase for Demand Response services such as ADA paratransit. 

11% increase in Commuter Ridership, 33% increase in Fixed-route ridership, 35% increase for DR rider

The area transit systems are proud of the environmental benefits resulting from Free Rides July. With more people using public transit, we can assume there was a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. The S, The Bus, and Turlock Transit have a lower carbon footprint than private vehicles, so increased ridership due to free rides can be seen as a positive contribution to environmental sustainability efforts.

Free Rides July also ensured that low-income individuals and families could access public transportation without financial burden. This promotes social equity and enables individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in community life, access education, and seek employment opportunities.

The three systems look forward to Free Rides July in future years as it produces a positive image of and creates public support for transit. It also allows a fantastic opportunity for collaboration amongst all three agencies. All free ride opportunities demonstrate a commitment to sustainable and inclusive transportation policies. This can enhance the public’s perception of the transit system and generate greater support for future improvements and funding.

The regional transit operators have also used LCTOP grant funds to provide other free-ride promotional opportunities such as Go Green Weeks in March, Earth Day in April, and Dump the Pump Day in June. Riders can prepare for more free rides coming in just a few short months! All services will be free to everyone October 1st – 7th, 2023 for Rideshare Week as well as the entire month of December 2023.

Back to School – Youth Ride Free

StanRTA offers free rides to youth ages 18 and under in addition to Modesto Junior College students with a valid student ID and current semester sticker at absolutely no cost. Recent service changes have expanded transportation for students across the county. Youth riders benefit from free public transportation during the school year in several ways, positively impacting their education, well-being, and communities.

  • Improved Access to Education: Free rides on The S allow students to attend school regularly and punctually. Many young people need help accessing education due to financial constraints or lack of transportation options. Students can make it to school more easily by eliminating transportation costs, thereby reducing absenteeism and increasing their chances of academic success. Gregori High and MJC are just a few of the schools benefiting from service changes made in March and July of this year.
  • Financial Relief for Families: Free rides on The S eases the financial burden on families. Parents or guardians often have to bear the cost of transporting their children to and from school, which can be a significant expense for low-income households. The S is happy that families can allocate their funds to other essential needs, such as housing, food, and educational resources.
  • Promoting Independence and Responsibility: Youth riders on The S learn valuable life skills when using public transportation independently. They become more responsible for managing their time while learning to understand transit schedules, planning routes, and navigating the city. These skills foster a sense of independence and self-reliance, preparing them for future challenges.
  • Increased Social Opportunities: Free rides on The S allow students to participate in extracurricular activities, after-school programs, and community events without worrying about transportation costs. This increased accessibility to social opportunities fosters a sense of community engagement and enhances their overall well-being.
  • Equitable Access to Opportunities: Free rides on The S help level the playing field for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It ensures that all youth, regardless of socioeconomic status, have equal access to educational opportunities, internships, job fairs, and other community resources that might be far from their homes.
  • Encouraging Lifelong Transit Use: When youth riders become accustomed to using public transportation from a young age, they are more likely to continue using it as they age. This helps build a culture of public transit usage, benefiting the environment and easing the strain on traffic infrastructure in the long run.

Providing free transportation for youth riders on The S creates a positive domino effect, benefiting students, families, communities, and the environment. It fosters a more inclusive and sustainable society by ensuring that young people have the means to access education and opportunities that will shape their future. Click here to plan your free route to school today!

July 30 Service Changes & BART Weekender service launch with free rides through October

Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority (StanRTA) launched service changes on July 30, 2023. The service changes better align routes and add NEW services for increased access to all.

  • Route 10 - This is now an express route serving CSU Stanislaus. New bus stops have been installed at CSU Stanislaus. The bus travels through Turlock along Monte Vista Ave to Del’s Lane, ending at the Turlock Transit Center. Use Route 15 for bus service on Countryside Drive. Hourly service Monday-Saturday ending at 10:34 p.m. on weeknights and 8:34 p.m. on Saturday evenings.
  • Route 24 - The route now circles the Crossroads Shopping Center in Riverbank instead of going into the center and crossing the parking lot. There is also a new stop at the Riverbank Target. 
  • Route 29 - On weekdays, an additional round trip was added departing the Modesto Transit Center at 5:15 a.m.
  • Route 45 - On weekdays, a final outbound trip leaves the Turlock Transit Center at 8:30 p.m., arriving at its final stop at 9:37 p.m. at Driskell Ave & Amy Dr in Newman.
  • Route 48 - This route was realigned between Stoddard and Dale roads. It now will also serve Gregori High School on both weekdays and weekends.
  • Route 60 - On weekdays, a new inbound trip was added departing the Maag St and F St stop in Oakdale at 5:05 a.m.
  • Route 61 - On Saturday and Sunday, the route will begin and end at the Modesto Transit Center. The schedule has been updated to better reflect the timing between stops.
  • NEW BART Weekender - On Saturdays, there are three morning and three afternoon trips between Modesto and the Pleasanton BART Station. On Sundays, there are two morning and two afternoon trips between Modesto and the Pleasanton BART Station. The BART Commuter will be absolutely free for everyone every day through October 31, 2023.

Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority Honored with CTF Transportation Award

StanRTA StaffStanRTA is pleased to announce its remarkable achievement in winning the prestigious CTF Award for Rural Bus Transit Project of the Year. The California Transportation Foundation’s CTF Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in public transportation throughout the state. The Rural Bus Transit Project of the Year category recognizes outstanding achievements in improving transit systems, ensuring that residents in these areas can access reliable transportation options.

This year, the CTF acknowledged the innovative initiatives undertaken by StanRTA to design meaningful service improvements that would enhance the quality of life through public transportation throughout Stanislaus County. Through collaborative partnerships and strategic planning, StanRTA has consistently demonstrated its dedication to providing safe, reliable, and efficient transportation options that connect residents to vital resources, employment opportunities, healthcare services, and recreational destinations.

StanRTA's winning project showcased a comprehensive approach to improving transit services, focusing on critical areas such as accessibility, sustainability, and community engagement. By implementing state-of-the-art technology, StanRTA has optimized its operations, including real-time tracking, automated fare collection systems, and passenger information displays, thereby ensuring an enhanced rider experience. Furthermore, StanRTA's commitment to sustainability is evident through integrating low-emission vehicles into its fleet, reducing the environmental impact of public transportation while promoting cleaner air and a greener future for the region. The agency's efforts in fostering multimodal transportation options, such as bike racks and connecting services, have also contributed to reducing traffic congestion and improving overall transportation efficiency.

StanRTA's success in engaging the local community and gathering valuable input from stakeholders was pivotal in developing and implementing its bus transit projects. Through open forums, public meetings, and collaborative partnerships with community organizations, StanRTA has ensured that its services are tailored to meet the unique needs and preferences of the residents it serves.

Extreme Heat and Cooling Center Rides

The S and Turlock Transit are proud to provide free rides to cooling centers during times of extreme heat in the Valley. This initiative is a lifesaving measure for vulnerable populations. When heatwaves strike, especially in areas with limited access to air conditioning, the risk of heat-related illnesses and fatalities increases significantly, particularly among the elderly, homeless individuals, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Those in need of access to a cooling center should inform The S or Turlock Transit bus driver and a free trip will be provided.

Cooling centers are designated facilities equipped with air conditioning and cooling resources to relieve extreme heat. Buses and the Modesto Transit Center are cooling spaces, but the systems provide access to additional safe spaces that are less congested to escape dangerous outdoor temperatures. Click here for a list of all available cooling centers.

Extreme heat can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. A free ride on The S and Turlock Transit can help prevent heat-related illnesses by allowing individuals to seek refuge and cool down when needed by facilitating easy access to cooling centers. A free ride on The S or Turlock Transit can reduce the number of heat-related fatalities, especially among vulnerable populations with limited mobility or financial resources to access cooling centers independently.

 During heatwaves, vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, disabled, and homeless, are at higher risk due to their limited ability to cope with extreme temperatures. Free transportation to a cooling center on The S and Turlock Transit ensures that these populations have equitable access to help, improving their chances of surviving extreme heat events. This will also assist our emergency response teams who are often stretched thin dealing with heat-related emergencies. By providing free transportation to cooling centers, The S and Turlock Transit can contribute to community resilience and assist emergency responders by alleviating some of the heat-related demands on the healthcare system.

If you or your loved ones are in need of assistance in accessing relief during extreme heat, please contact 209.527.4900 (The S) or 209.668.5600 (Turlock) for assistance in getting to a cooling center.