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Z. Transportation

Menlo Park Council switches course on Caltrain grade separation design preference

Green Caltrain - Tue, 01/15/2019 - 22:24
Tonight: the Menlo Park City Council, with three newly elected members, reversed its previous preference regarding how to grade-separate the Caltrain tracks from local streets. The previous council had decided last year to favor an option separating only one street, Ravenswood, with an underpass. Tonight January 15, in a study session, the four council members who were present preferred to separate three streets (Ravenswood, Oak Grove and Glenwood) with a hybrid/berm, similar to the design in Belmont/San Carlos.

Mayor Mueller was out of town and not present, as his father had very recently passed away.

The council members present all favored the hybrid/berm option as their top choice. Some still wanted to continue studying a fully elevated viaduct, a design which is strongly supported and similarly strongly opposed by sets of residents.
Council Member Combs also wanted to keep studying trench and tunnel options, although he was skeptical of their financial feasibility. Mayor Mueller is on record as continuing to favor [update: studying] a tunnel, though it ls likely to cost $1-2 Billion or more, based on earlier estimates in Palo Alto and other corridor cities. Update: Council Member Mueller clarifies that he is interested in exploring a partnership with nearby cities about the possibility of a multi-city tunnel, and wants to see this assessment take place in a matter of months. There is no evidence that state/regional sources will be willing to pay extra, for a more expensive project version that provides no additional transportation value, and whose value is to hide the train from public view. Instead, the additional funding would logically need to come from local sources; and there is no evidence that the community has the appetite for thousands of additional annual dollars in local property taxes to support bonds for such a large project, plus large developments at the scale planned in San Francisco and San Jose, creating millions of square feet of office and thousands of homes, in 20-40+ story towers, to contribute local funds for a tunnel and underground station. Update: these funding mechanisms were mentioned in Palo Alto’s earlier financial assessment and the San Francisco and San Jose cases are reported on here. For disclosure, your blogger mentioned these funding concerns in public comment.

Tonight’s meeting was a study session, meaning that Council gave direction but did not take a vote. Following the Council’s direction tonight, the staff and consultants will come back in February with options for council to vote on; including going ahead with the hybrid/berm as the new preferred alternative, continuing to carry forward a Ravenswood underpass alternative for comparison, and optional additional choices for Council to keep on studying viaduct and trench/tunnel options. Palo Alto cost assessments for trench/tunnel options:
Categories: Z. Transportation

Palo Alto TMA takes shifts over 300 commuters away from driving at half the cost of new parking

Green Caltrain - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 11:53

This evening, the Palo Alto Transportation Management Association is presenting its annual report to City Council.  The data show that PATMA is shifting over 300 commuters away from driving solo, at half the annualized cost of a space in a parking garage, and comparable to the cost of other TDM programs. The majority of the budget is coming from a recent increase in the cost of full-price employee parking permits.

Using information from an annual survey of downtown workers, PATMA learned that low-income service workers drive at a much higher rate than higher-income tech workers. So programs are tailored for the needs of low-income service workers, including transit pass discounts, and an after-hours Lyft subsidy for low-income commuters living in nearby cities who commute before 6 AM and after 8 PM, times when transit options are limited.  The most popular transit pass is Caltrain, disproving earlier stereotypes that low-income workers wouldn’t want to or be able to take the train.

For the coming year, PATMA is considering program improvements including expansion to Cal Ave, bike pilot ideas, and shuttle services.

The program focusing on downtown workers – rather than large office park employees – is innovative in the region, and has benefits for traffic and parking reduction, and social equity by improving the commutes of low-income workers, with many happy customers (see the testimonials below).  Other downtowns have similar issues, and likely similar opportunities.

 

 

Categories: Z. Transportation

Thursday Jan 10 – Caltrain board considers land use policies

Green Caltrain - Wed, 01/09/2019 - 16:57

Tomorrow morning, Thursday January 10, the Caltrain board will be considering a set of land use policies in the context of the business plan.   The topics for consideration include policies for land that Caltrain owns, and for station areas where land use might be influenced by the station.

Unlike BART and VTA, which combined own over 400 acres of land near stations, mostly as big parking lots, Caltrain does not own nearly as large swaths of land, although it does own some notable land, including parking lots that Mountain View may be looking to build on.  And Caltrain is in the process of assessing how much of the land that it owns will be needed for transportation purposes, and how much could be used for buildings.

Even so, there are important decisions to make regarding land that Caltrain does own, as well policies to consider for station areas.

Two big important areas, the Diridon Station Area where Caltrain owns large parking lots where San Jose plans to allow building, and the 4th and King railyards, where Caltrain has usage rights for train storage and maintenance and San Francisco may want to allow buildings instead, will be addressed separately at the next board meeting in February.

For land that Caltrain owns, the board is considering goals including maximizing density, and encouraging walking, biking, and other modes over driving and parking.   For station areas, the board is considering whether to advocate for transit-supportive uses and higher densities, and actively support station access and vehicle trip reduction; and whether to support transit-oriented development with policies that are advancing at the state level.

In recent years, the BART board has actively developed TOD policies, with goals to build 20,000 homes and 4.5 million square feet of commercial space on land it owns by 2040, with a target of 35% affordable housing across all its properties, and an average density of at least 75 dwelling units per acre.

In the past, Caltrain has not had assertive policies, relying on the policies of cities, and delegating decisions to private developers, as occurred with the San Carlos Transit Village.   In that case, local supporters of transit-oriented development wanted more affordable housing, the private developer did not want to provide it, and opponents were successful in getting the project to be built with fewer homes.

What do you think? Should Caltrain have goals for land that it owns and support policies for land near its stations?  Should there be goals for density, affordable housing, station access?

Send your thoughts toboard@caltrain.com, businessplan@caltrain.com. And if you can attend in person, the agenda item will be up for discussion between 9am and 10am, at 1250 San Carlos Avenue in San Carlos.

Diridon Parking Lot

 

 

Categories: Z. Transportation

Ballot measure? Fare increase? Options to address Caltrain funding gap with governance implications

Green Caltrain - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:48

With budget challenges looming in the 3-year window before electric service starts, the Caltrain board discussed funding options at a board workshop on December 14, including the ⅛ cent sales tax option approved by the legislature in 2017, and the potential to once again increase fares.   Options to address the funding gap raise important consequences for governance, equity, and climate.

An ⅛ cent sales tax would raise $94 million per year to provide stable funding for operations and maintenance.  While riders have been paying over 70% of the annual operating budget in fares, the bulk of the remaining public funding comes from the three county partners.

The contribution of Joint Powers Board members included 25.8 million in operating funding (17% of the total) and 22.6 million in ordinary capital spending (keeping trains in good repair, station upkeep, etc, not counting electrification construction).  Operating expenses are expected to increase, with greater payments to train operating staff, including to run the positive train control system, and greater fuel costs before electric service starts.

Fare increase, and equity questions

The board members discussed the possibility of a fare increase to help close the budget gap before electrification. Caltrain’s rider base has a very high income, and Caltrain’s fare study suggests that increasing fares will not lose many riders. But Caltrain’s relatively high fares and high income rider population become a self-perpetuating feedback loop. Low and moderate income riders are priced out, and increasing fares prices the service even further out of reach.

Currently, Caltrain’s deepest discounts go to its high income riders with the GoPass, which is available only to full-time employees of large corporations, and is not available to large numbers of contractors who work for outsourcing vendors at the sites of major corporations. Nor is it available to employees covered by Transportation Management Associations that manage transportation benefits for smaller companies.

Caltrain is increasing the price of the GoPass by 20% this month (January 2019), but that still leaves GoPass riders paying less per trip than other customers.  To raise revenue and improve equity, Caltrain could likely increase the GoPass price further. And especially, Caltrain could extend the GoPass to cover outsourcing contractors and workers whose benefits are managed by Transportation Management Associations.

Ballot measure, partner pullout, and governance implications

Partners – VTA in particular, which is facing serious budget challenges, are talking about taking advantage of the sales tax to reduce or eliminate funding for Caltrain.

From minutes of the December 14 special board meeting, “Director Chavez expressed concern regarding VTA’s ability to invest in Caltrain in the future and stated the current funding asks should be reformatted with a “must have/nice to have” approach.”

If the ballot measure is used to *replace* the contributions of the current county partners, that may raises questions for voters.  And it raises bigger strategic questions about how Caltrain will and should be governed in the age of electrification.

Questions about voter value and governance implications

If the funding partners pull out when the ballot measure passes, that would leave less than half of the new funding for improved customer service and capital improvements that voters would notice.

We’re wondering if this strategy would raise concerns for voters, who might expect that new Caltrain taxes would be devoted to notable improvements to service and congestion relief, rather than being devoted to helping VTA, SamTrans, and SF with other budget needs.  Voters are going to need a compelling vision of how this ballot measure – as part of bigger strategy – will improve service, alleviate congestion, fight climate change.

And if funding partners decide to pull out, that also raises larger governance questions regarding how Caltrain should be structured and who should be in charge of setting direction for the service.   When the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board took responsibility for running Peninsula Corridor service in 1992 from the State of California, board logically consisted of representatives of the three county agencies that contributed most of the annual public funding: the City and County of San Francisco, the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).

Governance and strategy for great service

Caltrain’s business plan process, and the big transition to electric service, is already a logical opportunity for fresh thinking about how Caltrain should be governed.  To think about this touchy subject, it is helpful to consider the strategic questions – what are the medium and longterm goas, and what governance structure will help it reach those goals?
Integrated service.  One of Caltrain’s goals in the business plan is providing regionally integrated service.  This need will become even greater in the future, when BART is extended to San Jose Diridon station, when the Downtown Extension connects the Caltrain tracks to downtown SF.  Even more regional and megaregional integration will be needed when/if Dumbarton Rail service brings passengers to and from the East Bay and Central Valley.

Fundraising to increase ridership.   As readers will know, Caltrain’s ridership analysis for the business plan concludes that Caltrain could increase ridership by nearly 4x, to ~250,000 riders, by increasing service and improving infrastructure.  Global examples suggest that increasing service might result in even stronger financial performance than Caltrain’s 70% farebox recovery. Infrastructure improvements will be needed to increase ridership, including longer trains, level boarding, and station improvements. The funding from the SB797 ballot measure is a good first step but additional funding will be needed for those investments.

There are several logical options that would address the needs.

  • Make Caltrain a special district.  The complicated multi-agency process needed to put a sales tax on the ballot highlights the fact that unlike BART, Caltrain doesn’t have the powers of a special district that can raise funding.  State legislation could create a special district allowing the agency to raise funding in the future. With less contribution from county partners, it would make logical sense for the board composition to change. Since 70% of revenues come from riders, it might make sense to have board representation from major employers that contribute many riders; and perhaps from other groups representing riders.  The latter option would be similar to the SFMTA board, which has had representatives from transit/livable streets/active transportation advocacy groups appointed. Since Caltrain is an increasingly important corridor for the state, it might be relevant to have a State representative.
  • Combine Caltrain with BART.  In the 1960s, Santa Clara County and San Mateo County decided not to join the BART district; Santa Clara because they wanted to focus on the County Expressway system, and San Mateo County because local leaders feared connections to ethnically diverse parts of the bay. These historically unfortunate decisions could be repaired by extending the BART district to San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, adding board representation for the new counties.  A combined agency could treat the services as a single service, with an integrated schedule and single fare system.
  • Combine with other regional rail services. ACE and Capitol Corridor both use standard gauge tracks and have more technically in common with Caltrain.  However, these services have much lower ridership, so combination might help less to provide funding and seamless customer experiences.
  • Establish a Bay Area “transport federation” that could require integrated fares and schedules around the region. This has the potential to significantly improve transit user experience in the Bay Area. However, the change would be at a larger scale and outside of Caltrain’s control.

Caltrain strategy, funding and climate

A recent report from the California Air Resources Board concluded that even if electric vehicle market share increased tenfold by 2030,  California needs to reduce driving miles by 25% to reach the state’s Climate Goals. And a recent United Nations Climate Report indicated that the planet has a dozen years to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent severe consequences of global warming.

Caltrain’s board needs to be prudent about its budget in the next few years before electric service starts and before a ballot measure providing dedicated funding. That said, the improvements to Caltrain service and infrastructure that would remove a couple of hundred thousand cars of the highways seems like a “must have” rather than a “nice to have.”

What do you think?

Should Caltrain strengthen its governance to be able to grow to meet pent up demand and climate goals?  Which of the sets of choices would do the best job to help reach the goals?

In the age of electrification, how should we think about fares?  Should Caltrain – as part of the region – work toward moderately priced integrated fares that do the best job of competing with driving and taking hundreds of thousands cars off the road?  Should Caltrain position itself as a luxury niche product, for a select set of customers?

Share your thoughts in comments, and to Caltrain at businessplan@caltrain.com. Feel free to copy adina.levin@friendsofcaltrain.com

Categories: Z. Transportation

Caltrain to Sacramento? BART considering standard-gauge rail for 2nd Bay Crossing but Downtown Extension on hold for governance review

Green Caltrain - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 11:24

In November, BART announced the next steps to explore a second Transbay rail crossing. The news that you might have seen is that the study, starting in mid-2019, will compare options for the broad-gauge tracks that only BART uses in the state, and the standard-gauge tracks used by Caltrain, Amtrak/Capitol Corridor, and High Speed Rail.

A benefit of the standard gauge option would be providing a one seat ride from San Francisco, the Peninsula and Silicon Valley to Sacramento and the Central Valley, and get more use from the state’s investments in a statewide rail network.   Benefits of a BART option would be providing greater redundancy and reliability in case of service disruption and increasing maintenance windows.

Meanwhile, though, San Francisco’s key components of a potential future megaregional rail connection are on hold.  Following the discovery of cracks in a steel beam in the Transbay Terminal,the terminal has been closed since the cracks were discovered in September, and there is no schedule yet to reopen while the cause of the structural problem is being reviewed.

And the next phase of the project to provide train service to the terminal – more detailed design of the Downtown Extension Pennsylvania Ave tunnel – have been put on on pause by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority pending a review of the project’s governance and best practices for project delivery.  That study is scheduled to wrap up in May.

Is this the right study to fix the Transbay/Downtown Extension project?

But the scope of this study seems both too big and too small to address the issues with the Transbay and Downtown Extension project.  On the one hand, the management and board of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority were both changed after long delays in the Phase 1 project to create the terminal. The management and board leading the TJPA are not the same crew that made the decisions regarding the construction of the terminal.  On the other hand, any study that’s looking at how to fix a one-off agency working on a single megaproject may be looking at the problem at too small a scale. The Transbay Terminal/DTX project is only one of many megaprojects in the Bay Area that consistently run into trouble with cost over runs and delays.

An SF Chronicle Op-Ed by Gabe Metcalf and Ratna Amin of SPUR suggests that the solution to the problems in delivering big capital projects is larger than the City and County of San Francisco can take on by itself. Because of the fragmentation in the Bay Area’s transportation system, each big project is taken on with a one-off organization, and the region as a whole doesn’t build expertise to manage megaprojects.

We believe that one of the problems that underlie the Bay Area’s repeated failures of project delivery is the fact that so many public agencies mobilize to deliver a single project. San Francisco Muni is building its first subway in 40 years. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission rebuilt a span of the Bay Bridge one time. Caltrain is electrifying its system once. And in the case at hand, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority was set up to deliver just one piece of infrastructure. These are all great projects. But the many, many lessons that each of these agencies learns the hard way through its experience are not getting translated into improved performance in project delivery next time because there is no next time.

We hope that the study of the challenges with the Transbay Terminal project can provide impetus to look at the bigger problems with Bay Area megaprojects, while making recommendations allowing this important project to keep moving forward in the meantime.

Categories: Z. Transportation

Facing financial and identity crisis, VTA board commits to questioning capital plans

Green Caltrain - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 13:50

On Thursday December 6, while making decisions to address a $25M operating deficit and underlying structural problems, the VTA board chose to look at an elephant in the room, clearly examining capital projects that could benefit or harm long-term financial sustainability.

Tactical first steps

The VTA board took several recommended tactical steps to close the budget gap in the coming year, including reducing proposed Next Network service hour increases from ~10% to ~2%, to index fares to inflation, and providing voluntary incentives for workers to take early retirement.

Sharpening recommendations to revisit capital program to speed transit, identify obsolete projects

The VTA board decided to sharpen recommendations to address the role of capital spending in addressing the structural deficit.  Director Larry Carr of Morgan Hill, summarized the conclusion to bring issues to the Capital Programs committee that he chairs:  “we will look at whether we have capital projects on the books that will deepen the operating hole, and we will look to projects that will improve operating efficiency” (enabling more service and more riders per dollar).”   Carr’s summary followed comments by Director Bruins, who chaired the Financial Sustainability Committee, Director McAlister from Mountain View, and persistent questioning from Director Peralez of San Jose.

The sharpened recommendation to look at the capital program complements the board’s direction to increase emphasis on real estate development on land that VTA owns, and to contemplate support for legislation to allow denser zoning in station areas. Transit-supportive land use could help VTA’s finances and ridership – and VTA can use land use to assess whether old projects on the books are still worth doing.

Identity crisis – are we in the public transportation business?

Director Cindy Chavez raised the alarm that the structural deficit was a symptom of fundamental questions about transit in Santa Clara County.  Said Chavez,we have a decision to make – continuing to run public transit, or handing the business over to private sector players such as Lyft and Uber. We need to think about process to take on these big issues.  Incorporating Chavez’ comments, VTA staff will come forward with an explicit work plan to deal with these strategic concerns.

This direction a step forward wasn’t as comprehensive as SPUR’s recommendation for VTA to develop a long-term Business Plan by May 2020. SPUR’s recommendation included:  “a visioning process for future service levels and product types, the development of a business model, the development of strategies to improve operations and reduce their costs, a strategic plan for VTA’s network expansion (that considers costs, benefits and workforce implications).”

Also, the board didn’t address some financial recommendations from labor-backed policy nonprofit Working Partnerships to conduct a top-to-bottom review of its contracting practices specifically focused on long-term contracts, repeat contracts, and contract delays and failures. These were sharper than the staff report’s recommendation to “conduct a comparative study to identify opportunities for contracting in and out”

However, an explicit work plan to address VTA’s strategy and processes can provide more opportunities to advocate for stronger steps.

Caltrain funding recommendation raises governance questions

The board’s recommendations also included examining agreements to contribute funding to partner transit agencies, explicitly calling out Caltrain.   When discussing future Caltrain funding, Santa Clara County board members have repeatedly suggested that if Caltrain passes a ballot measure for dedicated funding, this should replace the current county-based funding and get Santa Clara County off the hook from contributing to Caltrain.  This option raises some logical questions about how Caltrain should be governed if the county transit agencies are no longer the main contributors of public funding. Watch for an upcoming blog post for more on the topic.

Which routes will get cut?

The tactical recommendations approved by the board also included shifting service focus to 90% frequent service designed to support higher ridership and 10% coverage service from 83/17.  It’s not clear how VTA will handle outreach regarding lower ridership routes that would be on the chopping block. 

Categories: Z. Transportation

Thursday December 5 – VTA addresses budget crisis, ignores elephants

Green Caltrain - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 18:22

On Thursday, the VTA board is reviewing recommendations to address their financial deficit.  VTA is proposing smaller service reductions than expected, but the solution isn’t strong enough, because VTA is ignoring some elephants in the room.  Read on to see how you can help….

Thankfully, since voters rejected Prop 6 cuts to state transportation funding and the courts upheld Measure B Santa Clara County transportation funding, VTA now has a smaller budget hole to fill. To fill the gap, VTA is proposing to reduce the service growth they approved in 2017 with the Next Network plan redesigning service to improve frequency and boost ridership on key routes.

According to this week’s “financial sustainability” proposal before the board, service would still increase from today’s level, but the increase would not be enough to keep up with population growth. Part of the problem causing less service per person is that buses and light rail vehicles get stuck in car traffic and have gotten slower over time.

While VTA is making cuts to expected service, they are still leaving planned capital expansions untouched.  There are transit and roadway expansion projects that have been on the books for decades, some of which might not be the best fit for today’s travel patterns, land use, and climate goals.  Today, VTA can barely afford to run the service it has, and yet they are still planning future projects that could generate low ridership and dig the hole deeper in the future.

Fortunately, VTA is also going ahead with a study of rapid transit corridors, starting next year. This will take a fresh look at old projects and new ideas.   The VTA board should connect the dots and resolve to use new information to rethink old projects.

Also, VTA has projects in the queue to make transit faster, such as signal prioritization and queue jumps, and all-door boarding.  VTA can accelerate a package of these projects, to make transit more time-competitive, to attract more riders, and to provide more passenger service for the dollars they spend.

You can help improve these decisions at VTA’s board decision on Thursday, December 5, by speaking at the board meeting, or by writing if you can’t come in person.

  • Tell VTA to review the transit and highway projects on the books and question spending on projects that no longer meet current and future needs.

  • Feel free to name specific projects that you think deserve questioning – some examples are:

    • building a new Santa Clara BART station right next to Caltrain, that would require spending double the money to operate duplicate service

    • the Vasona Light Rail extension which would run through low-density single-family neighborhoods.

    • capacity increases to Montague Expressway that no longer meet the City of San Jose’s goals for transit-oriented development and greenhouse gas reductions.

    • It’s helpful to name more than one project, so the supporters of that project don’t feel singled out.

  • Urge VTA to accelerate a set of projects that will make buses and light rail faster and more efficient, so we can get more passenger service for the money


Some board members have mentioned in meetings that they want to confront the elephant in the room of projects that may not be justified anymore, but the board needs encouragement to take the politically awkward step. Every obsolete project has some fans, so it will take strength to admit that some projects might be obsolete.

The board meeting is at 70 West Hedding, San Jose, CA, starting at 5:30pm. The discussion will be early in the meeting, likely before 6pm, so please get there close to on-time.   Please let me know if you can come, at adina.levin@friendsofcaltrain.com, so we can coordinate comments.

If you can’t come in person, please send a note to board.secretary@vta.org  and feel free to copy friends@friendsofcaltrain.com

Thanks to you for speaking up for better transit and sustainable transportation in Santa Clara County and the Bay Area.

Categories: Z. Transportation

Show thanks for sustainable transportation wins on #Giving Tuesday

Green Caltrain - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 15:44

The narrow victory on Measure W, and 2/3 Bay Area margin to defeat Prop 6 were pushed forward with a big coalition grass-roots effort with participation from TransFormSVBCSan Francisco Transit RidersYouth Leadership InstituteMenlo SparkUrban Habitat; and more partners in the regional coalition to NixProp6, without which a local county measure wouldn’t go very far.

If you’re taking #GivingTuesday to be thankful, please consider donating to Friends of Caltrain and to donating to other coalition partners who contributed to the #NixOn6 and #YesOnW victories and continue to support sustainable transportation.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the grassroots efforts to support sustainable transportation on the Peninsula Corridor and around the bay with time, encouragement and funding.

Categories: Z. Transportation

A narrow win for SMC Measure W, a big win for sustainable transportation

Green Caltrain - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 15:33

A few more votes remain to be counted as of afternoon November 27, but passage of San Mateo County Measure W is a mathematical certainty.  As of this writing, the measure has 66.85% of the votes cast, and there are about 500 votes outstanding according to the office of the Registrar of Voters. In the unlikely event that all of those voters had voted no, there would still be enough yes votes for passage.

The passage of Measure W will enable improvements to bus and rail service, and safe infrastructure for walking and bicycling – 65% of the measure’s spending will go directly toward transit and active transportation.

Plus, the roadway spending categories will have a “complete streets” requirement that will make streets and highways safer for people walking and bicycling in addition to driving; and can be used for programs to move more people in fewer cars.  And community stakeholders will participate in the process of finalizing the rules for those principles to apply to the spending of funds raised by the ballot measure.

The spending plan’s strengths in transit and active transportation were shaped by a diverse coalition of stakeholders, with groups focusing sustainable transportation, social equity; and the grassroots coalition generated well over 100 volunteers who reached tens of thousands of voters during the later weeks of the campaign, likely contributing to the wave of Measure W supporters among late voters.

The grassroots efforts complemented a campaign supported by many San Mateo County political leaders and business leaders.

 

The Measure W victory along with the resounding defeat of Proposition 6 – and the coalitions that supported them – are a great foundation for next steps to secure stable funding for Caltrain in the coming years, and potentially to craft and pass a regional “Megameasure” on the scale of Seattle and LA to dramatically improve an integrated Bay Area regional transit network.

Stay tuned for information about more opportunities to participate.

Categories: Z. Transportation

This week: Santa Clara considers car parking, El Camino Real vision

Green Caltrain - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 12:35

This week, there are two events in Santa Clara providing education about opportunities for better sustainable transportation, in a city that has historically been one of the most car-centered on the Peninsula Corridor.

Tuesday evening: Santa Clara Planning Commission Parking Study Session

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara Planning Commission is hosting a study session on parking.  Santa Clara’s parking standards currently reflect the city’s car-centric transportation heritage, and the city is working on updating its parking policies in the coming year, and there are several new Planning Commissioners who are getting up to speed on transportation policies.

So come if you are interested in learning about where Santa Clara is today, to learn about parking policies and practices elsewhere in the area, to share thoughts you may have on the connections between parking and sustainable transportation.

Speakers include:

  • Pratyush Bhatia, Senior Engineer, Public Works
  • C.J. Gabbe, Urban Planner and Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University
  • Adina Levin, Executive Director Friends of Caltrain (your blogger)

The planning commission meeting starts at 7pm at Santa Clara City Hall, 1500 Warburton.

Thursday: Greenbelt Alliance panel on “A smart future for El Camino Real”

On Thursday, Greenbelt Alliance is hosting an educational discussion of the El Camino Real Specific Plan in Santa Clara.

Local experts will speak about transportation, housing, and design, and participants will have opportunities to discuss your ideal vision for the future of Santa Clara, and to get involved in transforming and revitalizing this important corridor.

Panelists:
Emma Shlaes, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
David Meyer, SV@Home
David Pape, Grand Boulevard Initiative
Jason Su, San Jose Downtown Association

Thursday, November 29, 2018
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Santa Clara Senior Center
1303 Fremont St., Santa Clara, CA

Click here to register

Categories: Z. Transportation

Treasure Island decongestion pricing to fuel comprehensive transit and equity program

Green Caltrain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 23:20

On Tuesday, November 27th, the members of the Treasure Island Mobility Management Agency Committee will review the latest steps in crafting a comprehensive transportation program for Treasure Island, which is expected to see an influx of thousands of new residents and workers starting in mid-2021 when new buildings open.

A comprehensive program supporting sustainable transportation choices:

The innovative package has features including:

  • required purchase of an integrated transit pass that covers all of the transit modes that TI residents and workers will use on a regular basis, including Muni, AC Transit, and Ferries
  • improved equity for low-income residents, with a 50% discount on monthly transit passes for residents of Below Market Rate housing and for low-income workers, plus toll credit for frequent transit use
  • new bus, ferry, shuttle, and bike share services to improve connections to/from the rest of the world, and from homes and offices to transit
  • support for current residents transitioning to the new program, with $300 per month for the first five years, phasing out in the sixth year

Rather than asking residents, workers, developments and employers to have to cherrypick which transit services they might want to use, and buy multiple tickets or passes for each color vehicle, the program bundles the logical set of services into one understandable transit package usable with Clipper.

For an island with limited road access and an easy-to-reach transit customer base, the tolling proposal is an even stronger incentive to use nondriving options than the growing regional network of managed lanes. Tolls are proposed to be charged for passenger carpools and motor cycles, but transit vehicles, shuttles, vanpools and bicycles would be exempt.  The price at launch is proposed to be $3.50 peak, $1 offpeak, and $1 weekend.

December decisions

TIMMA board members are the members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, with a special role to focus on Treasure Island, authorized by custom legislation allowing the City to charge the tolls and invest the funds in transportation services for TI residents, workers, and visitors).

After feedback Tuesday morning, the program will be brought back to the board for approval in December 2018.  Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 11:00 AM, Room 250, San Francisco City Hall. You can send comments or questions to  treasure-island@sfcta.org.

A model for the future?

This innovative and comprehensive program can provide food for thought and inspiration for managed lane programs being crafted in San Mateo County for 101, and for the broader decongestion pricing program that San Francisco is starting to contemplate.  

The program doesn’t just charge for driving to discourage traffic congestion, it reinvests the funds into a packaged suite of mobility services and equity programs, so that people of all income levels who choose not to drive can make those choices conveniently and affordably.

Categories: Z. Transportation

Tonight: Caltrain biz plan feedback in San Jose – big opportunities for Diridon, South SJ, South County

Green Caltrain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 14:48

Tonight Caltrain is hosting a public meeting soliciting feedback on service in the age of electrification.   The potential for future service could be transformative for San Jose: for the Downtown/Diridon area, which is expecting major growth with upcoming Google expansion; and also for the badly underserved areas in South San Jose and South Santa Clara County.

Tonight’s meeting is November 26, 6-8 p.m.
Rose Garden Library, 1580 Naglee Ave, San Jose

Some key points to consider for your comments:
* The Downtown/Diridon growth will bring tens of thousands of new workers and residents.  Caltrain’s data shows that it could increase ridership by 3-4 x with investments in service and infrastructure. Do you want to see investments made that can keep up with the growth?
* San Jose is planning for the Downtown/Diridon area to be much less reliant on cars.  For people to live with fewer cars and less driving, do you want to see more frequent service during mid-day, evening, and weekend hours?
* San Jose’s studies suggest that in 2040 the Diridon station area will see as many transfers ad there are riders today. Do you want to see Caltrain support regional initiatives to greatly improve seamless connections among transit services?
* Data suggests that increasing service to South San Jose would generate substantially more ridership.  Many people live near underserved stations, and would use Caltrain if service was more frequent  (this would also help relieve the parking crunch at Diridon and Tamien). (see this blog post)
* High Speed Rail is proposing to contribute to electrifying tracks from Tamien to Gilroy, enabling more frequent and faster service. Do you want to see Caltrain prioritize this investment?

Send comments to businessplan@caltrain.com if you can’t attend in person.   Also, if you live in South County, it would be reasonable to ask for another meeting closer to you.

Diridon Station

Categories: Z. Transportation

Opportunities for more Caltrain service to South San Jose and South Santa Clara County

Green Caltrain - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 14:47

Caltrain is working on a major business plan that will set the stage for potential significant improvements to service in the age of electrification, and for the investments that will be needed to deliver those improvements.   The South San José and South Santa Clara areas have opportunities for particularly dramatic service improvements, that will require decisions from the Caltrain board and input from the community.

As people who live in SSJ and South County know well, the highways are crowded, but Caltrain provides minimal service.  Diridon station has 15 trains at peak period, but there are only 3 trains per direction per day south of Tamien.

More frequent service soonish with Measure B funds

There is already funding available for some service improvements to South San Jose and South Santa Clara County, passed by voters in 2016 as part of VTA Measure B. Now that an appeals court has upheld the ballot measure, the funding, which has been accumulating, will become available.

According to earlier plans, service could be increased from three trips per direction per day to five trips per direction per day, using diesel trains, if approved by Caltrain and VTA.  One important question to ask is how soon this could be done – does it need to wait until Caltrain starts electric service in 2022, which would free up more diesel equipment, or could it possibly start sooner?

Pent-up demand – many residents with little service

Analysis of census data shows pent-up demand, especially in South San Jose.  Many residents live near Caltrain but service is minimal, contributing to low ridership.

Plus, additional service could help free up parking space at Diridon and Tamien.  An estimated 30-40% of Caltrain riders at Diridon and Tamien live in South San Jose.  Up to 300 cars that currently park at these stations could potentially be parked closer to home.

Diridon                              4524                           4719
Mountain View               4017                           4132

The South San Jose stations see much lower ridership than stations with similar populations in the catchment area. Caltrain’s business plan estimates show the potential for substantially higher ridership than today.

Electric service to Gilroy with High Speed Rail

Another major opportunity for improvement was included in the most recent business plan for High Speed Rail, which proposed to electrify passenger rail service between Tamien and Gilroy. In previous plans, the High Speed Rail Authority was proposing to build dedicated tracks, while Caltrain would continue to run diesel service on tracks owned by Union Pacific freight. Now, pending the results of negotiation with UP, the High Speed Rail authority is proposing to electrify tracks, providing two tracks for passenger trains shared among Caltrain and High Speed long-distance trains, and one track for freight trains. This proposal could allow electrified Caltrain service potentially as soon as 2027, with High Speed long-distance train service starting as soon as 2029.

And opportunities for additional regional connections are being pursued by the Transportation Authority of Monterey County, which is pursuing service to Watsonville and Salinas as supported by the State Rail Plan.

If you live in San Jose, including South San Jose and South County, you can attend tonight’s meeting in San Jose, or can share your thoughts by writing to businessplan@caltrain.com, and watch for additional opportunities to weigh in.

More Caltrain service to South San Jose and South Santa Clara County from Adina Levin
Categories: Z. Transportation

Capitol Corridor JPA Board Meeting November 14 – Doug Kerr

I attended the November 14 Capitol Corridor JPA Board meeting in Oakland.  Here is a summary:

  • Election of Chair Rebecca Saltzman and Vice-Chair Don Saylor for 2-year term: 2019-2020.
  • Approved 2019 meeting schedule, next meeting February 13, 2019, 10AM, in Suisun City.
  • Capitol Corridor FY2018 Performance:

o   Records were set for annual ridership (1.71M passengers; +6.2% vs FY 17), revenues ($36.2M; +6.6% vs FY 17), and System Operating Ratio (58%; +1.8% vs. FY 17).

o   After substandard service reliability in the middle months of FY 18, on-time performance (OTP) rebounded to levels of 93%-95% in the last three months to close out the year with a systemwide OTP of 90%, finishing in 2nd place for service reliability in the Amtrak national system.

o   The rating for Customer Satisfaction was 86% Highly Satisfied, a two-percentage drop as compared to FY 17 due to earlier substandard OTP.

  • A presentation was made regarding a Second Transbay Rail Crossing.  Travel demand will exceed capacity (all modes) sometime between 2030 and 2040 depending on economic and population growth.  CCJPA was awarded $1 million in 2018 Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) funding for the network planning and related analyses relating to the planned second transbay rail crossing that would include BART and conventional passenger trains.  The Board approved a $600,000 contract with Bay Area Council Economic Institute to perform economic and market studies to support the Crossing.
  • An interesting fact brought out at the meeting:  The 21 county area stretching from Monterey to east and north of Sacramento would amount to the 15th largest economy in the world if an independent country.
  • The Board approved adoption of BART’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program as Capitol Corridor’s program.
Categories: Z. Transportation

San Joaquin JPA Board Report November 16 – Doug Kerr

I attended the November 16, 2018 San Joaquin JPA Board Meeting in Merced.  Here is a summary:

  • Administrative items were approved including moving expense items from one budget account to another.
  • The Board gave recognition to board members Don Tatzin and Tom Blalock who will be leaving the Board due to retirements.
  • The City of Oakley gave a presentation on recent downtown improvement projects in the vicinity of the upcoming new San Joaquin stop at Oakley.
  • Schedule changes were discussed.

o   A Temporary Schedule Change Targeted for Dec 17th:

o   Start the early morning express at 4.45AM (20 min. later) and arrive in Sacramento at 7:56AM.

o   Friday-Sunday, extend train 718 (last train out of Oakland) that currently stops in Fresno, all the way to Bakersfield

o   Friday-Sunday, run both Sacramento-bound trains from Bakersfield (Arriving in Sacramento at 11:15AM and 3:24PM.

o   A full review and analysis of the schedule including On Time Performance issues, train meets, schedule padding, and connections in Los Angeles  will be done with the goal of a permanent schedule change sometime in April.

  • A resolution was passed to reinstitute the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) as a Thruway Bus Stop as well as Remove San Juan Capistrano as a Thruway Bus Stop on Route 1 and to Relocate the Vallejo Thruway Bus Stop on Route 7 to the Curtola Park & Ride Transit Facility.
  • Staff presented a short analysis of Thruway Route 7 which serves Santa Rosa, Healdsburg (where I live) and the North Coast.  There is a push to increase ridership on this route with the first step being the attached flyer.  I mentioned during public comment that the three county (Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte) population is less than 250,000 so there is a limited market to draw from.  That said, the bus route is a very important connection to this often forgotten part of California.  I offered to help staff in any way I could.  Staff presented the idea to move bus stops to SMART train stations in Sonoma County, a position RailPAC should fully support.  There was then a discussion of the Perata Law which would prohibit North Coast bus passengers from transferring to SMART.  Yet another reason to change or eliminate this law.
  • Updates were given by staff on various projects and improvements.

 

The next SJJPA meeting will be held January 25, 2019 in Fresno

Categories: Z. Transportation

VTA pursues high capacity transit study for Stevens Creek, other corridors; will the study affect budget crisis options?

Green Caltrain - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 15:38

On Friday November 16, the VTA Ad Hoc Financial Sustainability Committee reviewed and recommended options to deal with a $25M deficit.   The Committee recommended a less draconian option that reduced bus and light rail service below the “Next Network” plan, but not lower than than current service. VTA’s expected budget gap was thankfully halved due to  Californians’ protection of the SB1 gas tax funding by voting down Prop 6 and the failure of the lawsuit against the Measure B county transportation sales tax.

 

But the VTA Ad Hoc Financial Sustainability Committee’s proposal did not commit to accelerating improvements that would make VTA service more productive and cost-effective, such as more transit signal priority and all-door boarding.   And the Committee did not commit to revisiting capital spending, including projects that have been on the books for decades and wouldn’t necessarily be high priority if they were considered today.

Revisiting high-capacity transit corridors

Meanwhile, though, VTA is about to kick off a 2-year study that is revisiting plans for high-capacity transit corridors.  VTA solicited proposals for the upcoming study with a deadline in September, and is expected to announce the consulting team early next year.

The VTA study will explore the potential for high-capacity transit on corridors that have been planned in the past, and that aren’t planned yet, looking at a variety of modes including bus rapid transit, light rail, rapid transit, and heavy rail (diesel multiple unit or electric multiple unit).

The study will revisit questions about which corridors are suitable for high-capacity transit, considering land use, travel patterns, and potential speed. If a corridor isn’t currently suitable for high-capacity transit, the study will identify changes that could support such investment.

The Stevens Creek corridor is of particular interest, as seen recently in proposals for the MTC Horizons transformative projects competition.  VTA, and the cities of San Jose, Cupertino, Santa Clara jointly submitted a project for “Stevens Creek Rapid Transit Line for a high speed, high capacity, grade separated system from the Diridon Station area to De Anza College along the West San Carlos-Stevens Creek Corridor.”   While Stevens Creek wasn’t chosen for evaluation by MTC, it was already included in the scope of upcoming VTA study.

The updated High Capacity Corridors study seems like a good process to provide a rational update to consider long-standing plans in the context of current conditions, without appearing to pick on any particular project on the books that may have outlived its original justification, and without appearing to pick on the hopeful aspirations of local officials who are eager for rapid transit that might not be justified by land use and likely ridership.

Can the High Capacity Corridors study help VTA address its financial crisis?

However, it’s not clear whether the timeline of this study will be useful for the VTA board to grapple with its financial crisis.  

The options on the table on Friday only included different scenarios to reduce bus and light rail service hours. There were no options on the table to defer or reconsider legacy capital projects.  Changing a legacy capital project that was approved by the votes is politically fraught. But cutting service that voters agreed to pay for is also problematic. And, going ahead to build out legacy capital projects with questionable ridership potential, while the agency can’t afford grow current service at pace with population, might be compounding problems into the future.

Legacy corridors to reconsider

The request for proposals identified the following “legacy corridors” for updated consideration, noting that they weren’t in any particular order.

  • Mountain View Transit Center to Palo Alto Transit Center (Measure A ballot)
  • Sunnyvale to Cupertino: Lockheed Transit Center to De Anza College via De Anza Blvd and Mathilda (Measure A ballot)
  • Eastridge Transit Center to Nieman Boulevard to SR 87 along Capital Expressway (Measure A ballot) Santa Teresa Light Rail Station to Coyote Valley and Morgan Hill (Measure A ballot)
  • Lawrence Expressway: From Campbell to Lockheed Transit Center
  • Central Expressway
  • San Tomas Expressway: North San Jose to Campbell
  • King Road: Great Mall to Capital
  • Monterey Highway: Santa Teresa light rail station to downtown San Jose
  • Blossom Hill Caltrain Station to Alviso
  • SR 85: South San Jose to Mountain View
  • Vasona Light Rail extension (Measure A ballot)
  • Stevens Creek Boulevard: Convention Center to SR 85 (Measure A ballot)
  • The Caltrain Corridor

Decisions in December

The VTA board is expected to make decisions about responses to the financial crisis at its board meeting on Thursday, December 6.

 

Categories: Z. Transportation

High Speed Rail Board Comes to Burbank

CHSRA Board Meeting November 15, 2018 Burbank

While I was not able attend the recent Board meeting of the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) I did view the video and as President of the Rail Passenger Association of California (RailPAC) I wanted to provide my impressions of the meeting and public comments.  The overall emotion projected by the public was one of being overwhelmed, stressed and thrust into a universe they did not chose.  However, the reality we face, traffic and gridlock, is the result of decades of independent decisions from the first subdivision in the San Fernando Valley, the arrival of Mulholland’s water, growth of the movie industry, the aerospace industry, the impact of freeways in generating suburban sprawl, etc.  California is the 5th largest economy in the world and much as we might want we can’t roll back the clock or freeze it in place.  I think a comment made by a landowner at Northern California CHSRA Board sums up the situation pretty well.  That landowner, who is losing part of his property to high-speed rail, said “there is no good route; there is only the least worst route.”  That phase applies not only to the route segments in Southern California but to the choice of high-speed rail made in 2005.  Other mode improvements, more highways, more airport runways, maglev and the no project alternative, all were found wanting.  High-capacity, high-speed rail was found to be the option with the greatest benefits with the least impact on the environment.

So in dealing with the statewide issue of infrastructure investment, the task falls to the public along the Southern California high-speed rail route segments working in collaboration with Authority staff to address key lineside issues.  Making the current situation worse is that while the high-level regional trade-offs have decided that the Refined SR-14 and existing rail corridors is the” least worse route”, the local neighborhood impacts, the ones that really impact people’s lives (noise, concerns regarding vibration, Valley Fever, dust, wildlife impacts, etc.), are now front and center.

Resolving these issues with design strategies and mitigation is the key task in the next phase of the environmental study.  The public provided excellent input on the issues and they are to be congratulated.  RailPAC encourages members of the public to remain involved because the result will be a better less impactful railroad.  As Chair Dan Richard and Board Member Tom Richards outlined at the end of meeting, this type of collaboration has taken place in the San Joaquin Valley with projects to improve wetlands, easements to protect farmland from development, replace old polluting diesel water pumps, tractor and bus engines with new cleaner engines, initiatives to protect wildlife, etc.  This effort is collaborative requiring creativity and compromise.  So using the San Joaquin example, the focus now should be on how to develop designs and mitigations that offset the rail line’s local impact.  For example, is there critical wildlife habitat now in private hands that could be protected?  What is the best location for the Santa Clara River bridge supports, how can dust be minimized, how can homeowners achieve confidence in the risk of tunneling under their homes, etc.
1.

Ironically, the greatest threat to wild areas and equestrian neighborhoods is auto driven suburban sprawl with its huge demands for space.  The pressure for more land is tremendous and history clearly shows that what might be safe now may in fact not be.  High-speed rail and improved commuter rail with its focus on urban core development may, in fact, be the best ally to rural landowners and those who want to protect wildlife.

Finally, I was disappointed by the statements provided by national, state and local public officials.  In my opinion they did not show the leadership and creativity that the issue requires.  All claim to support efforts to improve transportation and fight carbon emissions, yet when a transformative project is presented to deal with these issues, they uniformly supported the politically safe option, an extremely expensive tunnel from Sunland to LA.  These legislators are creating false hope for their constituents.  A full-length tunnel will not generate the benefit that justifies the cost and potentially leaves in place the current rail line with surface crossings, blaring warning horns and diesel exhaust.  The current CHSRA proposal is the “least worse” option.  It focuses at improving the corridor as a whole eliminating dangerous grade crossings and warning horns, with targeted mitigation of noise issues.  RailPAC also feels the project lays the foundation for converting Metrolink and Amtrak trains to clean electric traction.  By integrating high-speed rail tracks and current rail tracks into one unified high-capacity 4-track rail line, additional Metrolink and Amtrak service can be operated.  RailPAC recommends stakeholders between Burbank and Anaheim also should work with Authority staff and begin focusing on targeted on affordable mitigation and tradeoffs.

The Rail Passenger Association of California concurs with the Board’s vote on Thursday November 15th and supports the forward movement on high-speed rail in California.

Paul Dyson, 11/19/18

Categories: Z. Transportation

Dumbarton Updates: Facebook studies Rail connection; MTC studies EastBay links; Union City studies expressway

Green Caltrain - Sat, 11/17/2018 - 17:28

Starting next year, Facebook and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will be respectively studying rail options for the Dumbarton Corridor; and East Bay station connections as called for in the State Rail Plan.  Meanwhile, Union City is moving at cross-purposes, doing environmental review for a proposed expressway connection by Union City BART.

Facebook Joint Venture studies Dumbarton Rail

Facebook has created a joint venture with the Plenary Group, a company that invests, develops, and manages rail and highway projects around the world, to do financial analysis and environmental review of the feasibility of restoring rail service along the Dumbarton corridor.   Facebook’s philosophy to “move fast” calls for completing the studies, including public outreach, in 18 months starting in August, a pace that would result in decisions by the start of 2020, about a year before the MTC plans decisions about connecting hub stations.

Meanwhile, MTC has hired a team of consultants, led by HDR Engineering, to evaluate rail needs and opportunities in Central and Southern Alameda County. The study will explore and plan for East Bay station connections among Dumbarton, BART, ACE and Capitol Corridor, including options for connections at existing stations and new stations “such as but not limited to a Shinn Station, Newark rail hub, Union City intermodal station, and the Ardenwood Park and Ride.”  The study will include feasibility analysis and preliminary engineering and design, and is planned to conclude by the end of 2020.  

Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in 2019

In the coming year, stay tuned for community outreach and the chance to learn more and share your thoughts about Dumbarton Corridor rail and East Bay station connections to regional and megaregional rail.

 

Union City prefers an expressway connector; environmental scoping deadline 11/22

Meanwhile, Union City is still working somewhat at cross purposes, seeking environmental clearance for an expressway connecting 680 to the Dumbarton Corridor past Union City BART.  Union City is currently in the scoping phase for environmental review of its General Plan.

Despite major community pushback against the proposal to build this legacy highway from the 50s, the Union City General Plan currently only considers a scenario in which the East West Connector major roadway is built as an element of the Station District, without consideration of less car-centric alternatives.  

Last Spring, the Alameda County Transportation Commission refrained from committing to fund the project using Measure BB transit and active transportation funds, and send it back to Union City to figure out what and how to build, with encouragement to consider transit and active transportation options that are more compatible with the purposes in 2014 Measure BB.

The “scoping” phase of environmental review allows people to comment on what should included in the scope of the Environmental study. If you share these concerns, you can send comments asking for the study of alternatives that reduce “vehicle miles traveled” and greenhouse gas emissions, including:

  • Express bus features along DeCoto Road such as queue jump lanes and transit signal priority, along as called for in the SamTrans Dumbarton Corridor study, to improve speed and reliability and increase ridership of the Dumbarton Express lines.
  • Local street grid improvements in the station district, extending 7th street to provide a second access to the station district from Mission Boulevard and providing emergency vehicle access from the 7th street fire station, and promoting bicycle and pedestrian access and safety. The local street alternative would also eliminate the need to tunnel near a superfund site, greatly reducing environmental risks of the project.

The website for the Union City General Plan is here.  Comments on the scope of the environmental review are due November 21 at 5pm. You can email comments to  carmelac@unioncity.org

 

 

 

Categories: Z. Transportation

Amazon Passes on Pittsburgh: A Bullet Dodged

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 10:22

Finally, after months of private negotiations over billions of public dollars, Amazon has announced it will pass on Pittsburgh as the location for its second headquarters. It is reported that Pittsburgh’s bid would have given enormous tax incentives and decision-making power over where their tax-dollars would be spent. All without any public input or transparency. That’s not how taxes work. That’s not how we create equity.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit led the call with a number of other community organizations and news outlets for more transparency and public process around the bid. We continue to assert that the Amazon bid does not measure up to goals outlined in the Mayor’s own p4 guidelines for equitable development.

At this point, we are relieved that some of our region’s most pressing issues (like our shortage of affordable housing, and access to quality transit) will not be exacerbated by Amazon’s arrival and the billions in public subsidies that would have been given to them. However, Pittsburgh’s Amazon HQ2 bid continues to be most egregious example of our City & County administrations actively choosing to stifle a public process in favor of backroom deals.

What we need now is for PGH HQ2 bid to be made public in order to rebuild community trust in this administration, and begin creating truly democratic processes that allow residents to identify collective priorities and spend shared resources.

Check these stories below with PPT quotes about Amazon’s November 2018 announcement:

Check our ‘Amazon ≠ p4’ campaign webpage for background on PPT’s organizing.

Follow us on twitter for PPT updates!

Categories: Z. Transportation

Now is the time to share your thoughts on future Caltrain service – biz plan meetings coming up

Green Caltrain - Sun, 11/11/2018 - 22:14

Have you been eager for improvements to Caltrain service that will take advantage of electrification?  Now is the time to speak up.

Starting this week, Caltrain is hosting a series of community meetings on its Business Plan providing an overview of the planning process and an opportunity to provide feedback.

Studies for the business plan suggest that Caltrain could carry up to 3x the number of passengers, with improvements to service and investments in infrastructure. If Caltrain ran more all-day, all-week service, it could serve a much higher share of trips.  And if Caltrain made investments such as longer trains, plus passing tracks and grade separations, it could serve a much higher share of trips at rush hour.

Do you have thoughts about:

  • What sort of service Caltrain should offer in the age of electrification? Focused on commuters, like today? Focused on a wider variety of trips all day and all week?
  • What places should get frequent service, and why?
  • How important should it be to provide a seamless transit experience, including using Caltrain with other transit and travel modes? How important are schedule reliability and connections?
  • Given the outgoing governor’s directive to be climate-neutral by 2045, do we want transit to increase market share compared to driving
  • Should our region invest in infrastructure required to make major service improvements?

Now is also a good time to bring up changes that would be helpful to achieving the goals. If you’d like to see support for more trip types in addition to daily commuting, then perhaps zone-based fare system isn’t the most convenient anymore.  If a reliable schedule and transfers are important, than level boarding investments are needed.

In sum – if you have ideas about Caltrain service starting in 2022 and in the coming decades, now is the time to speak up. If these meetings aren’t convenient for you, send notes in writing to businessplan@caltrain.com

November 13, 6-8 p.m.
San Mateo County Transit District Auditorium
1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos

November 14, 6-8 p.m.
Mission Creek Senior Center
930 4th Street, San Francisco

November 26, 6-8 p.m.
Rose Garden Library
1580 Naglee Avenue, San Jose

 

Categories: Z. Transportation

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