On-demand service from County Express offers Uber-like transportation.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna On-demand, is County Express’ new service to the public. It connects passengers to their next destination and with the community.

Created on Aug.

9, the service offers transportation within an hour of scheduling a ride. The application is available Mondays through Fridays from 6 a.m.- 6 p.m., with the charge of £1 for adults, and at a discounted price for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities riders for £0.75. Regina Valentine, Transportation Planner for San Benito County Express said On-Demand is only available within the City of Hollister.

She said during September, 544 rides were completed for 25.9 passengers daily. This month, daily riders have increased to 26.8 per day.  Residents can schedule a trip with a mobile app or call dispatch.

Through the application, riders now can select their own pick up and drop off locations.The app works by adjusting the bus driver’s route with passenger availability and pick-up location. Valentine added that the ride is approximately no longer than 40 minutes. The new program is different from County Express’s Dial-In-A-Ride services which requires a day in advance request, and negotiating with the driver about time and location to pick up travelers from out of town, San Juan Bautista and Tres Pino for £2.

Valentine said drivers had to regulate the number of passengers due to COVID protocols, and it was not fair for the customers. Now the application can register the passengers to the capacity of the bus. She said she received concerns from the public using Dial-In-A-Ride, in that there is no shade or benches available at bus stops.

Now with the app, the bus driver is picking up passengers at their preferred location. “It’s fun to not worry about driving, and [I] get a chance to get to know the drivers and passengers to even exchange phone numbers,” said Veronica Lezama, Transportation Planner from County Express. Since early August, Lezama has been without a car and uses On-Demand transportation.

She noticed her neighbor utilizes the app as well and gets a chance to ride along with her. She said it is easy to book a ride, “It is like Uber,” Lezama said and added that she gets to work 10 minutes early with the service and does not have to worry about using a car anymore since gas prices have increased.

Maria Gonzales is a driver at County Express for five years. She told BenitoLink how several passengers enjoy the new service more than Dial-In-A-Ride. “It’s quicker than Dial-In-A-Ride, and there’s regular passengers who ride the bus”, Gonzales said she gets to drop off middle school and highschool students in the mornings. The students are always in pairs when they’re picked up.

During the midday she takes adult passengers to their appointments, workplace, and grocery shopping. Hollister resident, Marlene Fabian, said her ride to work is 15 minutes long. The service is another kind of transportation besides cars, she said “It helps me get to places I need to be in times of struggle.”

The BenitoLink Internship Program is a paid, skill-building program that prepares local youth for a professional career. This program is supported by Monterey Peninsula Foundation AT&T Golf Tour, United Way, Taylor Farms and the Emma Bowen Foundation.         On-demand service from County Express offers Uber-like transportation.            On-demand service from County Express offers Uber-like transportation.On-demand service from County Express offers Uber-like transportation.

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