Yuba-Sutter Transit now operates a wide range of services with a fleet of 51 buses ranging in seated capacity from 16 to 57 passengers. In FY 2017, approximately 56 percent of the operation will be provided as urban fixed route service. The local fixed route system provides service every 30 to 60 minutes on six routes with 14 buses in all day service Monday through Friday (12 on Saturdays) in Yuba City, Marysville, Linda and Olivehurst. Local fixed route service is provided each weekday from approximately 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
Following the reintroduction of local fixed route service in 1993, ridership grew rapidly on this system with a 47 percent increase in FY 1996 followed by annual increases of 28, 17 and 18 percent through FY 1999. After slowing to 4 percent growth in FY 2000 due in part to capacity constraints, ridership increased by 10 percent in FY 2001 and 13 percent in FY 2002 following the introduction of half hour weekday service on Routes 1 and 3 and the addition of Route 5 in April 2001. Ridership continued to grow at an average annual rate of more than 5 percent despite only minor service changes through FY 2006. After the October 2006 addition of Route 6 and half hour Saturday service on Routes 1 and 3, ridership jumped by 13 percent in 2007 and by another 15 percent in FY 2008. With the introduction of half hour weekday service on Route 2 in January 2009, ridership increased another 11 percent to 823,000 passenger trips in FY 2009. Even without further service increases, local fixed route ridership increased to a high of 1,067,000 passenger boardings in FY 2015 before dropping to 971,600 boardings in FY 2016.
This strong long term growth trend in local fixed route ridership is a reflection of the successful implementation of many improvements over the years. In addition to the service changes that are noted above, these improvements included the introduction of larger and more easily identified fixed route buses along with a Marysville route (Route 4) in 1995; the expansion of that route and the start of Saturday fixed route service in 1998; the introduction of modern low floor buses in 2009; the placement of bus stop benches and shelters at key stops; the installation of bike racks on all buses; and, the highly successful discount monthly pass programs for area youth, seniors and persons with disabilities.
The local Dial-A-Ride service accounts for approximately 27 percent of the operation. This service is provided only within the urban area during regular weekday and Saturday fixed route service hours and weekday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Except for the weekday evening service which is open to the general public without restriction, Dial-A-Ride service is available only to seniors age 64 and over and persons with disabilities. Dial-A-Ride is also Yuba-Sutter Transit’s complimentary paratransit service as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Dial-A-Ride carried just over 70,000 passenger trips in FY 2016.
Fifteen percent of the operation is provided as service between Marysville/Yuba City and downtown Sacramento primarily in peak hour weekday commuter service. Beginning in 1990 with two 15-passenger buses, the Sacramento commuter service now provides nine morning and ten afternoon peak hour schedules with another three midday schedules. This service is provided with a fleet of 13 specially equipped 41 and 57 passenger buses. The midday schedules are used by many daily or occasional commuters, but they are also popular with those traveling to and from Sacramento for medical, school and other non-work purposes. The combined Sacramento services provided a high of 158,200 passenger trips in FY 2014, but ridership has since fallen to 144,300 trips in FY 2016.
Limited route deviation services to the Yuba County foothills and the Cities of Live Oak and Wheatland account for the remaining operation. The Foothill Route provides two round trips every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between selected foothill communities from Brownsville to Marysville. The Live Oak Route provides two round trips each weekday into Yuba City and Marysville. The Wheatland Route offers one round trip each weekday to Marysville. The Live Oak and Wheatland Routes operate under a fully allocated cost reimbursement agreement with those cities since they are not members of the Authority.
In FY 2016, Yuba-Sutter Transit operated 93,147 vehicle service hours systemwide – a 6 percent increase since FY 2011. During the same five year period, despite the recent drop, systemwide ridership is still up more than 5 percent to nearly 1.2 million passenger boardings. For a long-term perspective, systemwide ridership has increased by nearly 550 percent since FY 1993 following the reintroduction of fixed route service while systemwide service hours have increased by less than 190 percent over the same 23 year period during which time systemwide ridership increased in all but two years.
The long term trend in passenger fare revenue has been very positive even with the recent reduction in ridership even though the last fare increase was on the Sacramento service in July 2010. Since September 2005, the regular $15 monthly youth pass has been deeply discounted using a series of grants from the Feather River Air Quality Management District (FRAQMD) to off-set the lost fare revenue. A similarly discounted monthly pass program for seniors (now age 64 and over) began in April 2013 and a third program for persons with disabilities began in January 2014. All three of these programs were combined in January 2015 and will now continue at least through December 2017 at the current rate of $5 per pass per month.