Bus line to connect commuters

A new business-class bus route catering to East Bay commuters who work at several major tech companies on the Peninsula is set for a summer launch, and will come complete with reclining seats and wireless Internet service. Soy lattes, however, won’t be served on board.

Employees of Oracle, the Stanford Midpoint medical center and Sun Microsystems will be able to jump on AC Transit in Castro Valley or Hayward for a direct link across the San Mateo Bridge to office campuses beginning in August, according to AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson.

The new route, approved Wednesday by AC Transit board members, will continue on across the Dumbarton Bridge to Union City, also running in reverse.

Buses will depart every 30 minutes during the peak hours of 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 8 p.m., Johnson said. Peninsula stops include Metro Center in Foster City, the Hillsdale Caltrain station in San Mateo, Oracle, Stanford Midpoint and Sun Microsystems, according to AC Transit.

The route is the first in the Bay Area to cross two bridges and stands out as an example of how some Bay Area transit operators are looking to break down barriers, whether geographic- or fare-related, Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said.

More than two dozen AC Transit buses are already making 700 trips a day across the Bay Bridge, offering similar amenities to the Transbay Terminal, Johnson said.

MTC, in coordination with local transit agencies, has been a leader in implementing TransLink, a credit card-like ticket designed to allow transit riders to transfer between agencies by paying with one pass, Goodwin said. TransLink, currently in the limited-testing phase, is scheduled for systemwide launch by AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit in coming months, Goodwin said.

BART, Muni and Caltrain are tentatively scheduled to come on board by the end of the year, Goodwin said.

AC Transit decided to expand Peninsula service along U.S. Highway 101 to the various tech campuses after employees at Redwood Shores-based Oracle pointed out how many people would likely take the service if it stopped closer to campus, Johnson said.

Oracle estimates 800-1,000 of its employees live in the East Bay, 50 percent near Fremont. Stanford’s new medical campus, currently under construction, expects about 10 percent of its initial 200-500 employees — 8,000 are expected to work at the campus by 2009 — to take the services once it opens, Johnson said.

As more people move to the Bay Area and development begins to cluster around transit centers, more barriers are likely to come down improving interconnectivity, Goodwin said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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