a Bolinas and Stinson Beach Seniors' Group

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Notes on Transportation for Seniors Issues

Sausalito Shows the Way: Go to http://carss4you.org

read all the pages and think about it.

Notice the careful, thoughtful planning, implementation and graduated ambitions.

Revised Stagecoach Routes and Schedules (Dec. 2012)

There are now three routes serving West Marin: Route 61, "the South Route", between Bolinas and Marin City; Route 68, "the North Route", between Inverness and San Rafael; the seasonal Route 66 between Sausalito and Muir Woods. All of the maps and schedules are too voluminous for this page but can be readily accessed by using these links:
           Stagecoach System Map    Route 61 Schedules    Route 68 Schedules    Route 66 Schedules

Handbooks and Forms for TRIPtrans

West Marin Senior Services (WMSS) has received a federal grant through Marin Transit to provide a $.35/mile reimbursement to volunteer drivers who take seniors to medical appointments, errands, and activities.    All you need to do is complete an application, submit monthly reimbursement forms, and WMSS will reimburse the rider, who will pass the money on to the driver. Please call Chloe Cook at 415 663-8148 for more information about West Marin TRIPtrans

The Handbooks explain the process and the forms are needed to register and file claims. You should download them to your computer and then print what you need ( the forms, certainly).

The Rider Handbook    The Volunteer Driver Handbook

The Rider Application Form    Mileage Reimbursement Form   Volunteer Information Form


 Marin Transit District Website

The MTD website is loaded with pertinent information for our members. Under paratransit there are links to Whistlestop's new site and a Paratransit Rider's Guide which is recommended reading even though most of it doesn't pertain to us. It gives you an idea of the rules and regulations involved, how the game is played.

Marin Transit's Website

Marin Transit is pleased to announce our new website is now available at:  http://www.marintransit.org.   The site features interactive maps that allow you to zoom to your service area and click on route numbers to view schedules. The site also includes trip planning, language translation, and information in accessible formats.

You can:

View Board Meetings : http://www.marintransit.org/boardmeetings.html

Select a Schedule: http://www.marintransit.org/mapsskeds.html

Get Paratransit Information: http://www.marintransit.org/routes/paratransit.html

Get Fare Information: http://www.marintransit.org/fares.html


New Marin Transit Passes are Now Available

On Monday, July 1, 2009, Marin Transit launched new 1 Day, 7 Day, and 31 Day passes. These passes are good on all Marin Transit and Golden Gate Transit routes within Marin County. Day passes can be purchased on the vehicles while 7 Day and 31 Day passes are available on line, over the phone or at local venders. Weekly passes are available at Cafe Salute at the San Rafael Transit Center.

More Fare Information | New Pass Information

Marin Transit District Reports

Readers of this page should occasionally visit the Marin Transit District's site to see what the County's transit status and plans are.

Presently there is at least one  item of interest to West Marinites and to West Marin's seniors: Draft Short Range Transit Plan 2008-09 (SRTP).

Correction to What's Wrong with the Stagecoach Item Below

We received this in an email from Valerie Taylor:

I was reading your story on the Whitecaps web page, where you made this statement:

"The Stagecoach is subsidized with money from the Americans with Disabilities Act (which is why you have to be qualified under ADA to ask for the extra service). In other words, they are using ADA money with no real expectation of having to provide extra services for seniors - we are subsidizing the commuters, high school kids, visitors and able locals."

Actually, public transit systems do not receive any money at all to run ADA programs. They are mandated by law to serve areas 3/4 of a mile from their regular fixed route to pick up people who are unable to get to the regular route. They do this because the the ADA mandates it, but there is not one dime coming form the Federal or state government to support local transit systems in providing ADA transportation.

The reason you have to qualify under ADA to get ADA service is because it's terribly expensive,so they don't want a lot of able-bodied people who just don't feel like walking the 1/2 mile to the bus stop to use the service.

You can call any public transit system in the country and ask their management if they are receiving any funding to support ADA operations. You really ought to do that, just to satisfy your own curiosity. It's really not fair to say things like that about Marin Transit when they aren't true.

- A Marin Resident

What's WRONG with the Stagecoach?

Before going into the present discussion, a little background is in order. As explained elsewhere, transportation has been a topic of concern and discussion for many years. When I was on the board of West Marin Senior Services I was appointed a committee of one to try to do something, anything to improve the transportation problems. After a year I had accomplished absolutely nothing and told the other members the best contribution I could make was to resign. Not long after, Phil Binley took up the lonely task. He came up with the idea of setting up a demonstration project for a fixed route system, lasting three to six months, to see if such a system were feasible and would be used. He went before the Board of Supervisors to try for twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars support for the experiment. Steve Kinsey saw an opportunity to provide some public transit for all of West Marin and he and the Marin Transit District's John Loll did all the dreary work getting through a half dozen agencies', federal, state and local, requirements. A group of us acted as an advisory committee on such matters as bus-design, routes, schedules, even decoration for the buses. Allowing for the usual settling-in things have gone rather well ever since.

After the demonstration mentioned in the News section Marilyn Schauf sat down with a group of our members and asked why they don't use the Stagecoach service. The answers mostly settled around the word "fear". For instance, fear was expressed over being stranded, missing the bus or finding it already filled. The word was used in conjunction with the drop-off points (want to get to downtown, the Depot, in Mill Valley)  , availability of toilets, getting on with heavy groceries, transferring to other services and so on. Some of these fears are not based in fact and some are easily addressed and some could be managed but take some effort.

There is one problem that is universal and difficult to answer - how do you get to the bus stop and on returning, how do you get home?

On the Stagecoach website, on the page called Other Information we find this:

Route Deviations

ADA eligible riders may schedule deviations (off-route pickup and dropoffs) within 3/4 miles of bus route by calling (415) 526-3239.

No deviations will be made on weekends on the South Route 61. Instead, call Whistlestop Wheels at (415) 454-0964 for weekend paratransit service.

Stagecoach service may not meet every transportation need, so please call (415) 526-3239 regarding any other mobility problems or to let us know how you can help us to improve this service.

Now, as the Hippies used to say, they're just shuckin' and jivin' on this deviation business. Supposing I am returning on the bus and at the Mesa Road stop sign on the Olema Road I ask the driver to "deviate" to my house on Mesa at Overlook - how does he/she know whether that is within the 3/4 mile limit? Is there a map? If so, why isn't it made public? (Trust me - there isn't one.) Same question if I call in and try to book a deviation to pick me up at my house - is there a map for whoever it is that answers the phone? To give you an idea of what a map might reveal I've used Google's driving instructions to show a few limits, how far 3/4 of a mile reaches - and they are very revealing. First, are two maps for Bolinas showing the reach from the Mesa-Olema branch point and the other from the terminal stop at Wharf and Brighton:

As you can see, neither route gets you near more than a few houses - so all the others living on the gridded mesa would still have to find some sort of transportation to get to the pickup point. The situation in Stinson Beach is just the opposite.

As you can see a 3/4 mile deviation from Highway 1 and Arroyo takes you past the Seadrift entrance. In other words, all the homes in the Calles are within reach. Starting from the Calle Del Mar bus stop all but some houses at the crest are within reach. This suggests a way we might force the transit district to pay attention to this problem. I'll bring it up at the next Whitecaps meeting.

So what is this all about? Why do they publish this stuff about deviations when they clearly have no expectation of fulfilling it?
Well, it's the usual - money. The Stagecoach is subsidized with money from the Americans with Disabilities Act (which is why you have to be qualified under ADA to ask for the extra service). In other words, they are using ADA money with no real expectation of having to provide extra services for seniors - we are subsidizing the commuters, high school kids, visitors and able locals. (NB: See the correction to this statement at the top of the page - ED.)

As if to rub our noses in it, they add that last piece flummery: Whistlestop does not provide service in West Marin, certainly not on weekends - who the hell do they think they're kidding?

Roger Kovach

Post Script: There is a related problem in using the deviation service. Buses are very strictly regulated as to where they can pull over and stop for loading or unloading purposes. Lillian Letter made the mistake of using the Stagecoach once and the driver wouldn't let her out at the top of her driveway on the Olema Road, took her several hundred feet down the road to the big clearing and dumped her there - this in observance of safety rules mind you! If it hadn't been for a Highway Patrol officer who observed the whole thing and was decent enough to pick her up and drop her at her door she might have expired out there.

Mobility in Marin: Then, Now and Beyond

By Andrea Feit-Dougan, Commissioner, District 3 and

Pat Wall, Program Coordinator, Division of Aging and Adult Services

Andrea Feit-Dougan has a disability, and is in need of assistance getting in and out of vehicles. When she arrived in Marin County 25 years ago, Feit-Dougan recalls encountering a public transportation system that was not accommodating to older adults or people with disabilities. "Not so today," states Feit-Dougan.

"Marin Transit, which operates the local bus system, provides buses and shuttles which ‘kneel’ for those who cannot easily climb up onto the buses. Buses are also equipped with lifts to accommodate wheelchair users," elaborates Feit-Dougan. She explains that drivers have been trained to help older adults and the disabled to not only get on the bus, but also to disembark at their destination. "All this at a discounted price," says Feit-Dougan.

For those who cannot ride the public transit bus or shuttle, a paratransit van from Whistlestop Wheels may be an option. Riders must apply to the program and meet the qualification criteria. Whistlestop operates across county lines and will therefore take riders to destinations in neighboring counties. Scheduling hours for Whistlestop Wheels mirror those of the local bus system.

New accessible taxis have recently been added to the fleet of taxis in Marin, thanks to the transit tax passed in the county several years ago. Marin Transit contracted with local taxi companies to operate these vehicles. Riders may contact North Bay Taxi or Marin Yellow Cab to get this service. Novato residents may also call Radio Cab, which operates accessible taxis that are not part of the Marin Transit subsidized fleet. Rates are the same as with any taxi ride. Weekday hours are longer than weekend hours of operation. This new program continues to evolve and improvements are constantly being made.

Increasing the mobility of older adults and people with disabilities continues to be a major priority in Marin County. At the meeting of the Commission on Aging in December, Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey stated that "the vision is to increase mobility in Marin while using approaches that respect climate change responsibility and land use. Services will be targeted to the needs of users." Supervisor Kinsey considers increasing the walkability of neighborhoods a part of this strategy. At this meeting, Marin County Transportation District General Manager David Rzepinski announced plans to hire a Mobility Manager to act as a liaison to the community. The Mobility Manager will attend meetings and use the information gathered from the ground to plan and develop services that are responsive to the mobility needs of the community.

Other planning efforts are underway to improve transportation for older adults in the county. The Division of Aging and Adult Services and the Commission on Aging are jointly studying the transportation patterns of older adults and others in retirement communities, assisted living facilities and affordable housing developments to determine their needs and assess whether these needs are being met. A later study will develop an action and implementation plan to address the transportation needs of older persons. Funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, this study will explore transportation options for older adults, as this area is one of the biggest needs confronted by the elderly when they give up their car keys. Many find few alternatives available to them, especially if they live independently in the community. Residents of retirement communities, the first study found, have vans available to them from the facility to schedule trips for shopping, doctor’s appointments, entertainment and religious services.

Although Marin has come a long way in addressing the mobility needs of its residents, much work still needs to be done. Improving the transportation system and considering various approaches to expand mobility options in Marin are ongoing efforts. If you would like to give your input about these issues, please call Pat Wall at 499-7007. Contact information for the transportation services mentioned previously is as follows:

• Marin Transit (scheduling): 226-0862

• Marin Yellow Cab: 383-6050

• North Bay Taxi: 332-2200

• Radio Cab (Novato): 485-1234

• Whistlestop Wheels: 454-0965

Some Observations from a West Marin Viewpoint

Did you notice? Did you notice there is no mention of West Marin? Not even the name of The Stagecoach which is a pride and joy fo the Marin Transit District.

There usually are two reasons, taken either singly or together, we aren't included in discussions such as this.

East Marinites tend to forget we exist; there aren't enough of us to be noticeable despite the fact that we occupy two-thirds of the geography. So, this is simply an error of omission.

Politicians and bureaucrats overlook us because they can affect more people per buck spent in any East Marin burg - more people means more votes. This is the commission of an error of  by omission.

We have two distinct seniors' transportation problems out here. First is the over-the-hill case. All the hospitals and all of the medical specialists are in East Marin and most of the big shopping stores and centers. That problem is well known and, as we have said elsewhere in this site, not solved by the Stagecoach and, of course, Whistlestop does not provide service out here.

The other seniors' transportation problem has gotten little or no notice: transportation within our own communities to get to stores, post offices, community centers and other in-town places. In towns with steep hills such as the Stinson Beach highland and Inverness or those with rough roads such as the Bolinas mesa our elders are trapped, dependent on friends and neighbors for routine errands and all other requirements.

A subsidized taxi or jitney service is exactly what is needed in just about every township in West Marin. It could not use existing taxi companies (except, perhaps, for John Posadas' taxi in Stinson Beach) with their properly licensed drivers and vehicles so it would require a different basis - but that shouldn't be all that difficult to solve. All it takes is a little political will, especially by our own politicians, and a modest amount of financing.