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Sonoma County Airport Express restarting bus service to San Francisco and Oakland airports

One more signal that things are starting to return to normal will take place at 3:45 a.m. Monday, when a Sonoma County Airport Express bus leaves Charles M. Schulz—Sonoma County Airport for San Francisco International Airport.

The trip will mark a limited return to business for the Santa Rosa-based shuttle service that carried 800 daily passengers before the pandemic. They ranged from those jetting off to Europe to United Airlines employees to security workers at San Francisco airport.

The company’s last trip was the night of March 22, 2020, then travel effectively halted after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

With more people resuming airline travel, the airport express operator decided this would be the right time to restart service, with nine daily round trips to San Francisco compared with the 19 before the pandemic, said Anthony Geraldi, general operations manager.

There will be seven daily round trips to Oakland International Airport, which is a reduction from the pre-pandemic nine round trips. The standard fares for adult one-way trips to either airport is $38 per person from any of the four stops in Sonoma County.

“With airport express buses back on the roadways, it’s pretty much a good indication in my mind this pandemic is winding down,” Geraldi said. “As soon as demand dictates it, we will be increasing our frequency of service.”

Among the company’s employees, 48 of the 52 on the team before the temporary shutdown are returning, Geraldi said. One of the four workers not coming back died of complications from the coronavirus.

The team includes Tom Maybury, a driver for eight years after previously working for Santa Rosa School District and before that driving trucks.

“This is the last job I want to have going into retirement,” Maybury said. “Drivers are lifers here.”

Jon Stout, manager of the county airport, said he was pleased the airport express bus service is restarting, even though the vast majority of the passengers will be heading to San Francisco or Oakland airports rather than to the local airport in Santa Rosa.

The county airport benefits from the shuttle service on the rare occasions when a mechanical issue or weather event threatens to delay a planned airplane departure out of Santa Rosa, Stout said. The airlines can react and get passengers on a flight the same day out of San Francisco or Oakland via the shuttle service without having them worry about staying overnight.

“That’s an advantage we have over a lot of smaller airports,” said Stout, who noted that option helps visitors not have bad memories of a trip to the county keep them from coming back. “It’s a big help.”

Staff Writer Bill Swindell can be reached at 707-521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com.

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