Gael Rail – the after-hours shuttle service from Saint Mary's College to the Lafayette BART station, has experienced an impressive 15 percent increase in year-over-year ridership: 364 passengers made the trip in September 2009, compared with 316 riders in September 2008.

Introduced in March 2007, Gael Rail, Route 250 of the County Connection bus service, is a supplemental shuttle between the College and BART. The Gael Rail runs Thursdays, Fridays Saturdays and Sundays, after the regular County Connection service ends.

Gael Rails leave Saint Mary's campus on Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30 p.m. to 1:05a.m.; on Saturdays from 6:30 p.m. to 1:05 a.m.; and on Sundays from noon to 1:05 a.m.

The final shuttle of the evening from the BART station is after the last BART train arrives at 1:30 a.m.

Gael Rail is just one of the steps Saint Mary's has taken to provide safe alternatives to the automobile. It allows students – especially the 51 percent who live on campus and do not have a car – to leave and return safely on nights and weekends.

"Not having a car on campus would be deemed a difficult situation, for me to get out and fully experience what the Bay Area truly has to offer and to become enriched into the culture of san Francisco or Berkeley," says student Damaris Nielsen, a frequent Gael Rail rider. "Gael Rail has given me the opportunity to become immersed in San Francisco because I can come back after 10 p.m. without having a car. Not only does the Gael Rail give me the chance to broaden my horizons by being connected to BART, I feel safe and comfortable as well."

Gael Rail is underwritten by the College and is free to students. The public can ride the bus for the same fare as the regular County Connection, and this bus fare is returned to SMC.

In addition to the stops at BART and the campus, the shuttle offers "flag stops" to allow riders to get on or off anywhere along the route.

Gael Rail also has been an important for the College's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Other efforts include WeCar, a car-sharing program which offers students, faculty and staff the opportunity to rent a car at reasonable rates for hourly, daily or overnight excursions. The two WeCar vehicles are hybrid, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tim Farley

Office of College Communications

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