Living in a metropolitan region like the Tri-Valley or San Francisco Bay Area gives us innumerable benefits ranging from access to arts and culture to unrivaled employment options with world-class companies. Another benefit of residing in this particular metropolitan area is access to a number of commute options. If Hacienda is your destination, you're more fortunate than most commuters, since the business park is served by more transportation agencies than many other locations in the region.
BART service reaches all the way from Daly City through San Francisco to train lines that terminate in Richmond, Pittsburg, Fremont, and here in Dublin/Pleasanton, and a BART line to San Francisco International Airport will be opening in late 2002/early 2003 as well. The Dublin/Pleasanton BART station serves as one of the major hubs for public transit into and out of Hacienda. In fact the station, located at 5801 Owens Dr. in Pleasanton, is right at Hacienda's doorstep. BART rail service to Hacienda started back in 1997, and many bus service providers have demonstrated their support of BART by coordinating their schedules with train service. Transit lines that provide direct connections to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station include WHEELS, County Connection, San Joaquin Regional Transit District's SMART, the Modesto Area Express (MAX), and the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE). Hacienda's free WHEELS pass, discussed below, offers all Hacienda tenants and residents a free ride between the station and their office or home. For schedules, maps, and information about transit lines that connect to BART visit the BART web site at www.bart.gov or call (925) 676-2278.
ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) rail service from the San Joaquin Valley to Pleasanton began back in 1998 and offers a great alternative to those commuting over the Altamont Pass from San Joaquin County or for those traveling from Pleasanton to Santa Clara. The ACE service corridor stretches from Stockton in the North to San Jose at its southern point of termination. The service also has stations in Pleasanton, Lathrop/Manteca, Tracy, Vasco, Livermore, Fremont, and Santa Clara. West bound ACE trains arrive in Pleasanton on weekday mornings at 5:37 am, 6:46 am, and 7:52 am. East bound ACE trains leave Pleasanton at 5:09 pm, 6:19 pm, and 7:39 pm weekday evenings (holidays excluded). WHEELS buses meet each incoming train and transport tenants and residents throughout Hacienda as well as from the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station to and from ACE. For more information about ACE, visit the service's web site at www.acerail.com or call (800) 411-7245.
WHEELS offers a premier transit service in the Tri-Valley and beyond. WHEELS buses run throughout the Tri-Valley area to several locations in Hacienda, and WHEELS I-680 express bus service provides a direct link for people commuting from the Concord/Walnut Creek area to Hacienda. WHEELS buses also meet all incoming BART and ACE trains during the peak commute hours to shuttle Hacienda tenants and residents to their homes and businesses. During off-peak commute hours WHEELS DART service shuttles Hacienda tenants and residents to the BART station as well as other destinations on demand. The largest component of Hacienda's transportation program is a transit subsidy provided for the local WHEELS lines. The subsidy funds passes which are provided to park tenants and residents free of charge. When park tenants or residents board a WHEELS bus, they simply show the driver their pass to be granted free access. Pass holders can also travel on any of the lines to other locations. The passes are valid as long as the holder is a tenant or resident of Hacienda. Passes can be ordered online at www.hacienda.org for delivery within the park. For more information about WHEELS, visit the system's web site at www.wheelsbus.com or call (925) 455-7500.
County Connection buses provide transit service within central Contra Costa County. Formed in 1980, the County Connection has 131 wheelchair lift-equipped buses. County Connection provides fixed-route bus service and ADA paratransit service to nearly five million passengers annually throughout central Contra Costa County including Clayton, Concord, Danville, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, San Ramon, Walnut Creek, and unincorporated areas of central county. County Connection services the North I-680 corridor with a number of bus lines terminating at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. For more information visit www.cccta.org or call (925) 676-7500
The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (SJRTD) is the regional transit provider for San Joaquin County. It provides public transit services in the Stockton Metropolitan Area, as well as Intercity, Interregional, and Rural Transit Services countywide. SJRTD connects San Joaquin County to Sacramento, BART, and the Bay Area. If you live in San Joaquin County, a weekday subscription Interregional Commuter Service will take you to Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Sunnyvale, San Jose, and Sacramento, including a convenient feeder service to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station that's easily accessible to Hacienda tenants and residents. SJRTD's buses are all equipped with a system called SMARTTRAC, which uses a Global Positioning System to track its buses and provide passengers with real-time bus arrival information. You can call SMARTTRAC to find out when the bus will reach your stop based on the location of the bus at the time of your call. For more information on SJRTD's service visit www.sj-smart.com or call (209) 943-1111.
The Modesto Area Express (MAX) is the city of Modesto's transit service, providing bus transportation in and around the city. The Modesto ACE Express bus provides three trips in the morning from Modesto's Vintage Faire Mall Park & Ride lot non-stop to the Lathrop/Manteca ACE train station, and three return trips in the evening. The MAX Route 34 bus provides daily service to the Amtrak station on Parker Rd. in Modesto, and the Modesto BART Express bus provides two trips in the morning from Modesto's Vintage Faire Mall Park & Ride lot non-stop to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, and two return trips in the evening that can be used by those commuting to and from Hacienda. In addition to MAX, the City of Modesto provides a transportation service called Dial-A-Ride seven days a week, every day of the year for people with disabilities, and those aged 65 and older. The general public can also ride at specific times, although the Dial-A-Ride service is intended for individuals whose disability prevents the use of MAX. For more information about MAX and Dial-A-Ride visit www.modestoareaexpress.com or call (209) 521-1274.
Because Hacienda is located at a major hub of interconnected transit operations, a number of other transit lines also provide service to the park. AMTRAK, for example, has bus routes from rail stations in the central valley to destinations within Hacienda as well as bus service to Stockton. Both Greyhound and CalTrain have bus stops within Hacienda as well. No matter where you live in the Bay Area or Tri-Valley Area, if Hacienda is your destination, you probably have more than one transit option that will get you there. All of these options, however, can tend to be a bit challenging to figure out. Fortunately, there are quite a few means by which you can find the best way to travel to and from Hacienda. You can check out the web sites for the various transit agencies given in this article or you can obtain information from the resources given on the Hacienda web site at www.hacienda.org. Alternately, the Metropolitan Transit Commission ( www.mtc.ca.gov ) offers a number of informational resources that can speed you on your way when you leave the car at home. These include the TravInfo information line at 817-1717 (soon to be replaced by 511-see the article in this issue), which is available throughout the Bay Area's nine counties and six regional area codes (415, 650, 408, 510, 925, 707) and the TakeTransit Trip Planner available online at www.transitinfo.org/cgi-bin/taketransit (see the article in this issue). With all of these commute choices, you are certain to find alternatives that save you time and money and preserve your peace of mind.
Interested in making your transit dollars go further? How about riding transit at a reduced rate? The Commuter Choice Tax Benefit could be just the ticket. This tax benefit is a valuable addition to any benefits package. Unlike employee benefits such as health care or vacation plans, employees can use this benefit every day. The program is based on Section 132(f) of the Federal tax code, which allows employers to offer employees a variety of financial incentives for the use of alternative commute modes, including buses, trains, and vanpools.
Employers and employees save money, employees save time, and the program is easy to implement. Employers can offer the benefit in one of three ways: in addition to compensation, in lieu of compensation (allowing employees to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for the transit or vanpool costs), or as a combination of these two methods (employers subsidize part of the commuting cost and allow employees to pay for the remainder of the cost, up to the monthly limit, with pre-tax dollars). The current federal limit for the transit/vanpool benefit is $100 a month per employee, ($1,200 a year). These benefits are exempt from the usual restrictions and reporting requirements that accompany other pre-tax programs allowed by the IRS. There are no plan filings or forms for the employer to fill out, no irrevocable elections, and no mandatory enrollment dates. It is not subject to the regulations governing cafeteria plans - and, in fact, cannot be offered as part of a cafeteria plan. For more information about participating in the Commuter Choice Tax Benefit visit www.CommuterChoice.com .
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