Rejuvenating & Reinventing For the Community We Serve

The Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA), a joint powers agency, has been providing services to the Redding area since 1981 and operates 14 fixed routes and ADA paratransit demand response service. Since its creation, RABA has operated primarily loop routes, at 60 minutes or greater, connecting Anderson, Shasta Lake and Redding together with limited commuter services to the foothills and unincorporated areas of Shasta County.

By John Andoh | 7/21/2023

John Andoh
Transit General Manager, Redding Area Bus Authority
Redding, CA

NOW, THOUGH, THE AGENCY IS WELL underway toward changing how it operates—evolving from a traditional bus transit agency into a “mobility agency.” The public transit industry is one of sharing and collaboration, and RABA is pleased to share how we are rejuvenating and reinventing to better serve our community.

RABA Ridership at one time had a high of 1 million passenger trips, but with the pandemic and other factors, ridership declined to 330,000 passenger trips in FY 21/22. Farebox recovery ratio declined from a high 20 percent to just under 10 percent in FY 21/22. With the environment and demographics changing, the RABA Board of Directors, as well as the city manager of the City of Redding, felt it was time to make a change to operating practices and do something different, that is bold and radical; that can spur economic development; create, enhance and maintain jobs; and better serve Shasta County residents.

In 2022, RABA started its rejuvenation process. Dedicated staff were hired to focus on managing, growing and improving operations. Previously, RABA relied on the City of Redding’s Public Works for administrative oversight, which split its time between RABA and its other duties for Redding. LSC Transportation Consultants was brought on board to develop a Short-Range Transit Plan (SRTP), with a focus on mobility management, multimodal opportunities and new service concepts different from what had been operated for the past 42 years. It is now entering into the development process to lay out what the new RABA system could look like.

“It was time to make a change to operating practices and do something different, that is bold and radical; that can spur economic development; create, enhance and maintain jobs; and better serve Shasta County residents.”

In 2023, I was hired as RABA’s first dedicated general manager since the system’s inception to implement many of the successful mobility programs that I was able to launch at The COMET in Columbia, SC, and Hele-On in Hawai’i County, HI. Later this year, three additional support positions will join the current two RABA employees to allow for further implementation of the upcoming enhancements. The SRTP is due to be completed in October.

What is anticipated to come is a new fixed-route network that connects Shasta Lake, Anderson and Redding, together with improved on-time performance and more frequency common for a small urban area, connectivity to newer areas like the regional airport, veterans home and VA clinic, a network of microtransit zones in neighborhood areas that can provide more responsive localized transportation, subsidy programs with Redding Bikeshare, Uber for addressing first-mile/last mile connections, launch of a vanpool program, increased weekend services (including Sunday service as a microtransit service), enhanced and cost-effective rural services such as flex routes, microtransit and volunteer mileage reimbursement programs.

Many of these services would be delivered through partnerships that RABA has, including Transdev (for the past 25 years), Uber, Enterprise, Shasta Living Streets and the MPO the Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA). RABA hopes that many of these initiatives will increase passenger miles traveled, thus increasing FTA funding to the Redding urbanized area as well as being eligible for Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) Program incentives. (RABA has never received these funds).

The SRTP is also re-evaluating RABA’s fare structure so that it is easy to understand and can utilize open fare payment opportunities that Cal-ITP has developed for transit operators in California.

A robust marketing plan will re-engage the community to be active with RABA, including enhanced branding, a tagline, perhaps a name for the bus (previously RABA was known as “The Ride”), travel training and increased outreach.

The capital plan takes into consideration a recently adopted Zero Emissions Bus Plan that will transition RABA from a gasoline and diesel-powered large bus and cutaway fleet to a balanced battery-electric and hydrogen small bus (30/35 foot), cutaways and vans—to right size the operation with the present and anticipated demand by 2040. RABA and SRTA are working together to implement the first hydrogen station on the I-5 corridor north of Sacramento to fund a future hydrogen-powered fleet using a grant awarded to SRTA in the amount of $9 million and extra property owned by RABA.

Additional capital improvements include enhancements to the downtown transit center; adding automated vehicle annunciators and automated passenger counters; purchasing new paratransit, microtransit and non-emergency medical transportation software; purchasing transit planning software; adding transit signal priority to vehicles to improve on-time performance; and updating vehicle tracking software so that passengers can have Wi-FSi on the buses and the ability to track all fixed routes in real time through Transit and Moovit apps, Google, Apple and Bing maps.

Public transit agencies, regardless of size, mode or geographic location, can learn from one another and, more importantly, from the communities they serve, to adapt to the needs of the customers of today—and tomorrow. By making fundamental business decisions to be different from what it was originally created to do in 1976 and engaging operating partners to deliver mobility solutions, RABA is reinventing itself for the residents of Shasta County. Learn more at