San Pablo, California, Corridor Rapid Service: Planning and 10 Years of Operational Experience

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - bus/tram priority, infrastructure - traffic signals, mode - bus rapid transit, operations - reliability, place - north america, ridership - growth, land use - planning, planning - service improvement


Rapid bus service, ridership benefits, transit signal priority


The San Pablo, California, Rapid bus service was planned 17 years ago and was implemented 13 years ago. The Rapid service, which did not include exclusive lanes, was an upgrade of previous limited-stop bus service linking the East Bay communities of San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, and Oakland. The 13 years of service provide some lessons for other communities that are considering moderate (or less than full) service upgrades to bus rapid transit. The service was quick to implement and low in cost, but it has not provided the anticipated ridership benefits. The upgrades apparently were not significant enough to attract ridership increases. The transit signal priority element was not well maintained and thus has not provided the desired travel time and reliability benefits. AC Transit—which operates the service—and the corridor communities are currently reexamining further upgrades to the service. This Rapid service is well used, but more pronounced improvements are needed to fulfill ridership potential in the corridor. The lessons learned are that minor upgrades can be easily implemented, but noticeable changes are required to achieve significant ridership gains.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.