The Dec. 16 meeting of transit leaders from Vallejo and Benicia may have seemed like just another bureaucratic confab, but it was far from ordinary.
Instead, the first meeting of the new Solano County Transit agency was a look into the future of public transportation in Solano and, if its efforts are successful, the future of transit and paratransit services in areas beyond California’s major cities.
Soltrans ostensibly was formed to run the combined Vallejo Transit and Benicia Breeze transportation systems, which link the two cities to other Solano County communities and funnel passengers to Contra Costa County and to BART, the regional transit line.
But there is little doubt that officials expect Soltrans to eventually encompass the eight transit agencies that currently operate independently in the county.
Combined agencies should be able to dramatically reduce costs — many of which are overlapping — in a time of falling budgets.
“We were all universally excited about the first county consolidated transit program,” Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson told the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper after the Thursday afternoon meeting at Benicia City Hall.
“Our excitement was because this is an opportunity to grow transit services for our riders,” she said.
But this is not the future, this is now, so most of the meeting was devoted to bureaucratic matters.
The new agency’s board of directors — two representatives from Vallejo, two from Benicia and one from the Solano Transportation Agency — elected Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis as chair and Patterson as vice-chair, and discussed how to choose an executive director.
Directors decided to use personnel experts offered by the Solano County city of Vacaville to conduct a search for qualified candidates, Patterson told the newpaper.
Patterson said the new agency would attempt to complete the merger of Vallejo Transit and Benicia Breeze by July, if possible.
“We definitely want to have milestones reached by July,” she said.
But first things first, this still being a bureaucracy.
Board members appointed a subcommittee to help design a logo for the new agency.