SamTrans hopes to attract more transit riders after combining its popular 390 and 391 bus routes into a single route, called ECR, that now runs the length of San Mateo County along El Camino Real with more frequent and reliable service. The ECR runs every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends between Daly City and Palo Alto, between about 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. the next morning.
The old 391 route used to run between Daly City and downtown San Francisco, a service that SamTrans no longer provides. “By eliminating the lower-performing San Francisco portion from the ECR line, SamTrans is able to invest more heavily in its Peninsula service,” the agency said earlier this month. On an average weekday, about 400 riders used the 391 to access downtown San Francisco, a small portion of the 11,600 passenger total ridership of 390 and 391 combined.
The ECR service replaced the old routes on August 12, and public officials marked the occasion at the Redwood City Transit Center last Friday. “This is for more reliable public transportation, a critical issue for us,” said Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre. “As our community grows, we need better transportation.”
Since most of San Mateo County’s population and employment centers are concentrated along a narrow strip of land near El Camino Real, bus service along the corridor is exceedingly important. Routes 390 and 391 together accounted for more than 25 percent of SamTrans’ total weekday ridership in 2011, according to the agency’s 2013 service plan.
The new service clarifies what used to be two confusing, overlapping routes. The 390 bus ran between Daly City BART and Palo Alto Caltrain, while route 391 ran between San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal and Redwood City Caltrain during weekday commute hours and between Daly City and Redwood City Caltrain at all other times. Even between Daly City and Redwood City, where the two buses overlapped, the routes didn’t make all the same stops — Route 390 skipped San Bruno BART while Route 391 skipped Daly City BART.
“The bus drivers often had to explain to riders waiting at the stops where they were going,” said SamTrans spokesperson Christine Dunn.