Public Transit Options in Walnut Creek
BART, local buses, and express buses all serve Walnut Creek, and the Walnut Creek BART Station is a regional transit hub for Central Contra Costa County. On an average weekday, over 10,000 people use buses and BART to travel to, from, and within Walnut Creek. The community of Rossmoor also provides shuttle services for its residents to key destinations in the city. When transit services are direct and frequent, they are well-utilized by people traveling to, from, and within Walnut Creek.
Bus and Shuttle Service in Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek is served by ten County Connection local routes and five County Connection express routes. Additionally, Wheels Express Route 70X provides service between the Walnut Creek BART Station and the City of Dublin, and SolTrans Yellow Line provides express bus service between the Vallejo Transit Center and the Walnut Creek BART Station. The following map shows the locations of these routes and their frequencies. In addition to these routes, Rossmoor provides shuttles for its residents within the community, as well as to downtown and the BART station. The map below shows the bus routes serving Walnut Creek according to their frequency. The most frequent routes arrive every 15 minutes and are shown in dark orange. The least frequent routes arrive once an hour (or less in some cases), and are shown in dark blue.
Routes 4, 5, and 7 have the highest number of average weekday boardings. This is due in large part to the following: these routes are free, they connect higher density residential, commercial, and employment areas to BART, and they provide relatively frequent, direct service.
There are relatively low frequencies on many bus routes and limited pedestrian connectivity around some bus stops. As a result, the places to which one may travel via public buses and walking within 15 to 30 minutes is limited. The following maps show where one may travel by bus transit and walking within 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes. Both bus frequency and travel time are accounted for.
Travel distances by bus and walking from Kaiser Medical Center within 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes
Source: Remix and Fehr & Peers, 2018
Travel distances by bus and walking from downtown Walnut Creek within 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes
Source: Remix and Fehr & Peers, 2018
Walnut Creek is served by two BART stations: the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Stations. At the Walnut Creek Station, nearly 7,000 people per day ride BART on weekdays, and between 2,000 and 3,000 ride BART on weekends. Nearly 80 percent of people are traveling to work on weekdays,1 and most (about 60 percent) of them are exiting at stations in San Francisco.2
The Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre and Walnut Creek Stations have the highest ridership on the Pittsburg Baypoint (now Antioch) BART line. Ridership at both stations has grown continuously over the past ten years, although ridership at the Walnut Creek Station has recently dropped.
Walnut Creek residents make up the majority of BART riders entering the Walnut Creek Station during the week, and a little less than half the riders at the Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Station.
About half of riders are driving from home to the Walnut Creek BART station on weekdays, about a third are dropped off, and less than 20 percent bike or walk. The percentage of riders who bike or walk to the Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre Station is higher.
Almost half of those traveling to Walnut Creek from elsewhere walk to their final destination from BART. About 20 percent are picked up in a vehicle, and 16 percent use a bus or shuttle to reach their final destination.
Many people who live outside Walnut Creek use BART to travel to the city (or other destinations outside Walnut Creek) for work and other types of trips. While the majority of this travel is work-related, 24 percent of BART riders traveling to Walnut Creek come for shopping, dining, and other social or recreational trips.
Needs, Opportunities, and Challenges
When transit service is frequent, direct, and low-cost, people use it. This is particularly apparent with County Connection Routes 4, 5, and 7, all of which are free, frequent, and among the highest-ridership routes in the entire system. Increasing frequency on existing routes or expanding free transit services to other areas could shift some automobile trips to transit. However, additional funding will be needed to accomplish this. In addition, employer-provided transit subsidies or parking cash-out programs for employees who use transit instead of drive and park could further increase transit ridership.
Walnut Creek has strong and successful agency partnerships, including one with County Connection. Both the City and transit agency can continue to build on this relationship to provide bus transit service that meets the needs of the City and County Connection, and to secure additional resources for improved frequencies and/or additional public transit service to new development. Partnering to enhance bus shelters and transit support facilities is another way to improve the transit riding experience and encourage people to use transit.
There is a need to improve bicycling and pedestrian access to BART. More people are walking and bicycling to the Walnut Creek BART station than they were in 2008, when BART last conducted a survey of its passengers. However, there are opportunities to further increase the number of people walking and bicycling to the station by improving bicycle and pedestrian access. Providing direct pedestrian and cycling routes to the BART station which are both safe and inviting will enable more people to walk and bicycle to the station, as well as from the station to downtown and other nearby destinations.
Additionally, shared mobility options such as Lime Bike have the potential to further support access to BART via active transportation modes. Data from the City’s pilot with Lime Bike have shown that the BART station is a popular origin/destination. Shared mobility partnerships and improvements to walking and biking infrastructure both hold promise for improving first- and last-mile connections to transit; however, each has its own implementation complexities that require careful planning and balancing of competing needs.