A public/private shuttle service making public transit work for commuters and residents in San Mateo County
The Commute.org Shuttle Program provides first/last mile transportation to commuters and residents in San Mateo County. The shuttles connect passengers to Caltrain, BART, and SF Bay Ferry stations throughout the county. The program is funded through grants received from the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) and C/CAG in combination with contributions from private and public sector entities. The public/private funding model allows passengers to ride for free, reducing the cost of commuting via public transit and encouraging people to not drive alone. If your organization is interested in participating in the Shuttle Program, please review the content on this page and contact us to get information specific to your location.
If you live or work in San Mateo County, you have likely seen Commute.org shuttles during peak commute hours. Commute.org currently manages over 20 routes and is responsible for route design, scheduling, customer service, and partnership development. The shuttles are operated by a third-party vendor on a contract basis with oversight provided by SamTrans. The San Mateo County commuter shuttle program is designed to provide first/last mile shuttle service to help connect residents and workers with public transit.
The San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA) and C/CAG of San Mateo County (C/CAG) conduct a biennial Shuttle Program Call for Projects which provides grants to partially fund shuttle routes in San Mateo County. Routes must be open to the public, connect with major public transit, meet specific cost and performance metrics, and provide bidirectional service. The current eligibility guidelines can be found here.
Applicants, such as Commute.org, must be public agencies and fund at least 25 percent of each route. These “matching funds” come from different sources depending on the route. In some cases, a single entity may serve as the funding partner for a route. For instance, the owner of a large office complex with multiple tenants might be the sole sponsor of a route. In most cases, a group of employers and property owners provide prorated share of the matching funds as members of a Shuttle Consortium. The consortium model is the preferred structure since it spreads the cost across more entities and provides service to a larger group of commuters.
Employers or properties that want to participate in the Shuttle Program must complete the following steps:
Organizations that are part of the Shuttle Program have an active role in ensuring that the program is successful. While every organization’s role will be slightly different, the actions described below are common for most members.
Shuttle Program membership allows an organization to provide a valuable transportation benefit to their employees and/or tenants at a much lower cost than a private shuttle. The public/private funding structure of each route ensures that the service is provided at the lowest possible cost. Members also have input into how a route is designed including service hours and stop locations.
No. One of the requirements for grant funding is that the grant cannot replace an existing source of funds; therefore, an existing service that is privately funded cannot be converted into a grant funded service.
Yes. There are a growing number of multi-family residential properties participating in the Commute.org Shuttle Program. Not only is it beneficial to the residents to have shuttle service to and from local transit stations, but it’s also a way for developers to comply with TDM requirements.
Not every Shuttle Program partner will have a stop directly outside their building. Stops are placed along each route at locations that will maximize ridership. Some stops may be located “on premise”; however, grant funders prefer stops to be located on public streets when possible.
Promoting the shuttle service to the employees and/or tenants of a participant is critical to the success of the program. Commute.org will provide new program participants with printed and electronic materials that can be distributed or placed in common areas like break rooms, lobbies, etc. Additionally, Commute.org publishes a quarterly electronic newsletter for program partners. We strongly encourage our partners to share relevant newsletter articles with their employees and/or tenants.
Some cities in San Mateo County require new developments to participate in the Commute.org Shuttle Program or provide a similar service through another program. There is no difference for members whose participation is mandated versus voluntary.
The Consortium Agreement is a legal document, so it should be signed by a corporate officer or someone with the authority to contractually bind an organization.
The Consortium Agreement is designed to be used as a standard legal agreement without the need for modifications.
Commute.org’s shuttle program is funded through grants received from the TA and contributions from private and public employers (shuttle consortium members). The revenue received from these sources passes through the Commute.org budget to pay the shuttle service vendor and other shuttle program-specific expenses.
Commute.org shuttles are operated by a third-party vendor who provides the service under a contract. The hourly rates and additional costs are negotiated as part of a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Additionally, Commute.org’s shuttle management costs are partially covered by a five percent fee that is charged on each route. Variables such as hours of service and vehicle size are also factors in the cost of each route.
Member contributions vary by the number members in the consortium and the amount of service provided. When multiple organizations are contributing to the same route, costs are allocated based on either employee count or property size. Costs also vary based on the grant’s matching funds requirements. The Shuttle Team will be able to provide an estimate after the initial consultation.
The current Shuttle Program Call for Projects (FY 2024&2025) set the minimum matching funds at 25 percent of the total operating expenses of a route. There is no maximum percentage and the average across all Commute.org managed routes is approximately 40 percent.
Program partners are billed biannually for their projected share of the operating costs. Bills are typically sent in December for the January-June operating period and in May for the July-December operating period. Members who join in the middle of an operating period will be billed a prorated amount. If contributions exceed the operating costs, then Commute.org will provide a credit to each contributing member in the following period. Invoices can be sent electronically and/or via mail and to the billing contact provided on your agreement.
No. Commute.org is a local government agency that provides service “at cost”. The shuttle operator is selected via a competitive RFP bid process. Funds from grants and program participants only cover the vendor’s costs plus a five percent fee that covers a portion of Commute.org’s costs to manage the program.
Shuttle administration and marketing services provided by Commute.org are paid for from the general funding sources and are supplemented by administrative and marketing services fees paid by consortium members, SamTrans, Caltrain, and the TA.
Commute.org is a local government agency. A copy of our most recent W-9 can be found here.
No. The Shuttle Program is designed as a shared service where multiple organizations join together to provide critical first/last mile transportation to their employees and/or tenants at a fraction of the cost of providing private door-to-door service. Routes and schedules must comply with the grant funders guidelines and are intended to provide the most direct and cost-efficient service possible.
No. Currently, MV Transportation (MV) is the contracted provider of shuttle services to the program. MV provides the shuttles, drivers, and dispatchers for the service. They also perform the vehicle maintenance and have a team of support staff that interfaces with Commute.org to manage the daily operations of the routes.
The Shuttle Program currently uses three different sized vehicles depending on the route. The largest carries 40 passengers, while the smallest carries 20 passengers. All vehicles are ADA accessible and are equipped with bike racks. Service hours also vary by route, but generally fall during peak commute hours from 6:00 to 10:00 AM and 3:00 to 7:00 PM. Please visit the Shuttle page for specific examples.
Commute.org’s Shuttle Team provides customer service between the hours of 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM, Monday to Friday. The shuttle vendor provides customer service to riders outside of the Commute.org service hours.