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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




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

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

San Mateo County Measure W way to close to call; State Nixes Prop 6

Green Caltrain - Thu, 11/08/2018 - 10:53

With well under half of votes counted, San Mateo County Measure W was less than .5% short of the votes required to win – much too close to call.

On election night, results were inching up as the night went on, according to GM Hartnett’s report to the SamTrans board meeting.

Election night results
  • 8:30pm = 64.9% yes
  • 11:16pm = 65% yes
  • 11:43pm = 65.3% yes
  • 12:00am = 65.9% yes
  • 12:43am = 66.18% yes

San Mateo County has an all-mail ballot, and by state law voters can mail in their ballot as late as election day, so many votes were still in the mail on election night.

The next results will be reported today, Thursday November 8 at 4:30pm, with final results not scheduled til November 19.  You can watch for updates from the San Mateo County registrar at 4:30pm on Thurs, Nov 8; Tues Nov 13; Fri Nov 16, and Mon Nov 19, with an ominous footnote: Additional releases daily at 4:30 p.m. as necessary.

Prop 6 defeated with Bay Area most strongly opposed

Meanwhile, voters around the state defeated Prop 6, with results of 55% to 45% as of election night, saving funding that has been allocated for longer Caltrain and BART trains, updated equipment for Muni, SamTrans, ACTransit, and much more.

As expected, the Bay Area voted strongly against Prop 6. Heavily-populated LA County was less close than polling suggested; while other southern California and rural counties would have preferred to axe the gas tax.

Here’s a selection of election night results from Bay Area and other counties, with outcomes clear despite many votes left to count.

Prop 6 election night results
for core Bay Area and selected other counties County Yes No San Francisco 19 81 San Mateo 32 68 Santa Clara 34 66 Alameda 26 73 Contra Costa 36 64 Los Angeles 40 60 Orange 56 44 San Diego 53 47 Fresno 52 48 Kern 58 42

The 2/3 core Bay Area vote in support of transportation infrastructure funding is potentially promising for thinking bigger about regional transportation needs.

Categories: Z. Transportation

Last chances to reach voters to save transit/transpo funding, and election night parties

Green Caltrain - Sun, 11/04/2018 - 18:56

Election day approaches on Tuesday, and there are a few last chances to reach voters to save funding for Caltrain, BART, SamTrans, Muni, AC Transit, cycling, walking, bridge and road safety around the state.

When the polls close, you’ll want to have done what you can! There are NEW opportunities to phone and text bank in San Jose, Oakland, San Mateo county, plus last train station flyering shifts in Mountain View and San Jose.  Click here to sign up for an opportunity near you.

Well over 100 volunteers have reached over 20,000 voters so far to turn out for #NixOn6, YesOnW in San Mateo County, and other transportation and housing measures with local partners.

Thanks to everyone who has flyered, phone banked, and donated to save transportation improvements.  If you haven’t yet, please click here to donate to help make this outreach possible.

Once we’ve done what we can, there will be an election night party at Wursthall, 310 Baldwin Avenue, in San Mateo (RSVP here).

Partners at East Bay For Everyone are hosting a volunteer party on November 14th at 7pm, at 2044 Franklin Street in Oakland. And check back and refresh this blog post for updates on parties hosted by other partners around the region.

Many thanks to partners including TransForm, San Francisco Transit Riders, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, SV@Home, East Bay for Everyone, TransportOakland, Youth Leadership Institute, Yimby Mobility, and many others for making these voter outreach actions happen.

Categories: Z. Transportation

City of San Mateo workshops this weekend on housing for general plan

Green Caltrain - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 14:34

This weekend the City of San Mateo is holding two workshops to get input from residents on what the zoning in the city should look like in 2020 and beyond.

Currently the maximum density in San Mateo is 50 units per acre (lower than Belmont’s downtown) and the maximum building height is 55 feet.

New housing, including near Caltrain stations, requires a higher number of new parking spaces than data shows is needed; the amount of space required to house cars leaves less space to house people.

These factors contribute to make it difficult to build new housing in San Mateo. The city has grown three times as slowly as California as a whole since 1990. San Mateo now has the ninth highest median rents of any city in the entire United States.

San Mateo has more people per square mile than Baltimore and Oakland, and more people overall than Green Bay, Wisconsin, home to an NFL team. It already has more than 30 buildings that are taller than 55 feet.

What is your vision for San Mateo, and can you share that vision with the Council and city staff this weekend?

WHAT: General Plan Update Community Workshop: Vision WHEN: November 3, 2018 WHERE: (attend ONE)
  • Central Park Recreation Center (50 E. 5th Avenue)
  • Hillsdale High School Cafeteria (3115 Del Monte Street)
  • Central Park Recreation Center Workshop – 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (sign-up begins at 9:30 a.m.)
  • Hillsdale High School Cafeteria Workshop – 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (sign-up begins at 2:00 p.m.)

If you can’t make it, please send a short email to to contribute your feedback! Three sentences – who you are, what you’re concerned about, and what you want.

Categories: Z. Transportation

100 volunteers reached 20,000+ voters – can you help before election day?

Green Caltrain - Fri, 11/02/2018 - 13:43

So far over 100 volunteers have reached over 20,000 voters to save transportation improvements in California and San Mateo County! You can help push NoOn6 and YesOnW over the finish line!

Phone banking tonight and Monday in San Mateo; Sunday in Daly City and Oakland; Caltrain flyering morning of election day in San Jose and Mountain View. Full list of volunteer shifts here – please sign up and share!

No more flyers in the bag – hundreds of flyers in voters’ hands… images by Thea Selby of San Francisco Transit Riders.

Categories: Z. Transportation

Join us – Weds 10/24 thru election day – phone banking for SMC Measure W

Green Caltrain - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 14:37

If you live or work in San Mateo County, can you come out and phone bank in support of Measure W transportation funding?

Come for pizza (or other snacks), solidarity, and call voters to support San Mateo County Measure W (plus No On Prop 6.)

San Mateo County Measure W would provide $2.4 Billion in funding for transit and transportation over 30 years, including funding for SamTrans, Caltrain, and the Dumbarton Corridor.  If it fails, SamTrans says they are likely to cut service by 30%, won’t be able to fund rollout of 101 express buses with routes complementary to Caltrain, and will have trouble electrifying the bus fleet.

The next day for phone banking is tomorrow, Wednesday October 24, 6pm to 8:30pm in San Mateo.   Click here to sign up for a phone bank shift:

Below is the full list of phone bank shifts:

  • Wednesday, 10/24, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, 1300 S El Camino Real #100, San Mateo
  • Thursday, 10/25, 5:30pm – 8:00pm, Haas Center For Public Service, 562 Salvatierra Walk, Stanford University
  • Friday, 10/26, 4:00pm – 6:30pm, 1710 S Amphlett Blvd #126, San Mateo
  • Monday, 10/29, 6:00pm – 8:30pm, San Mateo County Central Labor Council, 1153 Chess Dr #200, Foster City
  • Tuesday, 10/30
    • 10:00am – 12:30pm, 1710 S Amphlett Blvd #126, San Mateo
    • 6:00pm – 8:30pm, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, 48 S 7th St, San Jose
  • Thursday, 11/1, 4:00pm – 6:30pm, 1710 S Amphlett Blvd #126, San Mateo

And please click here to donate to help make this outreach possible.


Categories: Z. Transportation

Bay Area turnout essential to nix Prop 6, save transpo funding – you can help

Green Caltrain - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 12:21

Bay Area turnout is absolutely essential in nixing Prop 6 and saving funding for Caltrain, transit, and transportation, according to a new LA Times poll.

According to the details of the LA Times poll, the Bay Area opposes Prop 6 by 60/20, while LA is about even, and Orange County/Central Valley favor killing statewide funding for transit, fixing unsafe bridges, and repairing potholes.

Polling on Proposition 6, which would axe funding for longer electric Caltrain trains (and other essential transit and transportation funding), is mixed and worrisome.

Last week, an LA Times poll showed a very close race, while recent Survey USA poll showed voter support for killing the funding ahead at 58%.

Save transportation funding – flyer, phone bank, donate

Flyer. We can reach 20,000 voters by election day by flyering Caltrain & BART stations.   Click here to sign up for a shift to flyer at platforms, reaching thousands of voters at stations near you, from San Francisco to San Jose.

Phone bank. If you live or work in San Mateo County, please come phone bank for Measure W.

Donate. And please click here to donate to help make this outreach possible.

Thanks so much for your time and support to fund essential transit and transportation infrastructure this election!

And thanks to partners including TransForm, San Francisco Transit Riders, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, SV@Home, and many others for making these voter outreach actions happen.

Categories: Z. Transportation

“I want you to push the limits” – Caltrain board, policymakers strongly support goals to meet pent-up ridership demand

Green Caltrain - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:21

Caltrain board members, corridor elected officials, and advisory committee members were strongly supportive of greatly increasing Caltrain service and ridership in coming decades, at recent meetings of the Caltrain board, Local Policymaker Working Group, and Citizens Advisory Committee.

The leaders and advisors were responding to new data indicating that Caltrain could increase ridership up to 250,000, addressing pent-up demand on the corridor, by providing service improvements and infrastructure to support increased service.

To reach the pent-up ridership potential, board members pushed for more information, and more infrastructure options that would help serve the most possible riders.  This includes investments to fully grade-separate the corridor – and the potential for more tracks.

Board member Gee, who is stepping down at the end of the year, spoke bluntly. “I want you to push the limits. I do not think you are misreading the need for more service. But, why are we constrained to two tracks – why not 4? What would it take to get to four tracks on the corridor. I only have 2 more meetings, I can throw down this stuff. “

Gee’s comments were supported by board member Gillett of San Francisco. Gillett was very pleased to see the Business Plan material start to show the benefits of investing in Caltrain service and infrastructure.  “From the San Francisco perspective, there has been eyerolling over time in response to messages that ‘Caltrain needs more money’, because we haven’t seen what we need the money for. That’s what the Business Plan should do, and that’s what it’s starting to do.”

Board Member Zmuda supported the goal of greatly increasing ridership, and sought to clarify the relationship between maximizing ridership and separating the railway tracks from intersecting roadways.  Zmuda asked staff, “can we get to maximum ridership without grade separations. The answer was that: “We’ll need a sealed corridor… “There’s billions of dollars on that slide [showing the remaining at-grade crossings on the corridor], that’s a megaproject that we haven’t called a megaproject yet. We’ll need to work with the region and the state.  This [the amount of grade separation] relates to the level of service we can achieve”

Board member Stone reinforced the need to clearly communicate the costs and tradeoffs to deliver the service that community members want to see.  “There’s pent-up demand. Some of our towns are looking to add housing; if we don’t have the service [to meet the needs of a growing population], I’ll get 400 emails.

See this thread for a livetweet transcript of the board workshop.

The week before, Caltrain’s Local Policymaker Working Group, an advisory body composed mostly of local elected officials in cities along the corridor,  were strongly supportive of more service, and their comments emphasized the value of more Caltrain service to communities on the corridor.  Encouraging comments from policymakers included:

  • “service drives ridership” – the substantial increase in ridership that could be gained by service improvements, keeping hundreds of thousands of commuters off highways
  • the value of service to support everyday travel needs, not just peak commuters, to serve additional sorts of trips and passengers, such as people who work at restaurants, and people who dine out, families with childcare trips, etc.
  • the value of increased service to stations that have been seeing transit-oriented development with currently low levels of service, such as San Antonio in Mountain View and Lawrence in Sunnyvale/Santa Clara
  • the value of supporting future transit-oriented that cities are planning
  • the potential for substantial climate/pollution benefits and congestion relief by carrying many more passengers
  • the importance of understanding infrastructure requirements, such as passing tracks and grade separations, to build support for these investments and funding

There is going to be more public outreach on the business plan starting in November so stay tuned and get ready to share your thoughts.

Categories: Z. Transportation

Thursday, 10/4 – Caltrain board sets fare policy strategic direction

Green Caltrain - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 19:32

Also at its board meeting on Thursday, October 4, the Caltrain board is being asked to give input on a set of principles to shape fare policy between now and the 2022 start of electric service.

The conversation is framed in terms of a set of principles that could potentially be in tension, including;

  • Financial Sustainability
  • Customer Experience
  • Equity
  • Ridership

Considering the latest information from the Caltrain business plan, the relationships between these factors is likely to be different in the short term and the long term.

Caltrain’s fare study has shown clearly that the fare structure has equity problems.  Low-income riders pay more per trip than higher-income riders. 

Short term win-win options

In the short term there are fare changes that could likely improve equity and increase ridership.  Currently, the GoPass excludes contract workers at major employment sites, and workers in areas covered by Transportation Management Associations that provide transportation benefits to employees of smaller companies, including restaurants and retailers. Caltrain could modify the GoPass program to include these blocks of commuters, which would increase ridership and revenue.

In the short term, even supporting the regional means-based fare pilot, with a 20% discount for passengers with household income under $50,000,  might not negatively impact Caltrain’s finances, if Caltrain participates in the pilot and doesn’t change its schedule. There are so few low-income people who use Caltrain today that the number of people who’d pay less than they’re paying is small, and incremental riders might provide a net positive amount or revenue.

Long-term strategies – ridership growth and regional coordination 

In the longer term, Caltrain’s analysis shows that making BART-like service choices would be likely to lead to BART-like ridership, with up to 250,000 riders by 2040.  International best practices suggest that choices aimed at increasing ridership are likely to improve financial outcomes. Caltrain’s business modeling for the age of electrification should model the likely results from a service pattern enabling higher ridership combined with a fare structure to enable higher ridership. This might, for example, mean fewer passes and more everyday low fares with fare caps that help budget-sensitive frequent riders.

In the longer term, the decisions likely to lead to higher ridership include more mid-day, evening, and weekend service for a wider range of trip types.  The current zone-based structure is biased against short trips that cross zone boundaries, and distance-based fares would be a better fit.

Also, in the longer term, customer experiences would be substantially improved by streamlined multi-agency fares. This would help individuals – there’s no reason I should pay different fares if I go to the same place in the East Bay using different routes with some combination of Caltrain, BART, Muni, VTA, and AC Transit.   And this would help institutional customers – there’s no reason a residential development should have to choose whether to give residents bus passes or train passes.

Caltrain can’t bring about regional fare integration on its own, for sure. But transit agencies have a lot of influence. The board’s direction to strongly support regional fare integration efforts will help, and that is a resolution worth making now. Especially since between now and 2022, the MTC and transit agencies will be working on Clipper 2.0, so setting that direction now can help outcomes for Clipper 2.0.

Categories: Z. Transportation

Thursday: Caltrain board workshop considers electric service goals

Green Caltrain - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 17:06

On Thursday, October 4, the Caltrain board is holding a workshop discussing critical issues regarding the service pattern and investments for Caltrain in the coming decades.

Caltrain’s modeling shows that providing BART-like service frequencies has the potential to yield BART-like ridership – on the order of 250K riders by 2040.  How much of this pent-up demand can move to rail transit will be driven by decisions about service and infrastructure.

The discussion was kicked off at last week’s Local Policymaker working group, where city council members from corridor cities strongly expressed their interest in improved electric service.

Committee member comments (livetweeted here) included:

* “It’s very clear that service drives ridership” – supporting the substantial increase in ridership that could be gained by service improvements

* supporting service to support everyday travel needs, not just peak commuters, to serve additional sorts of trips and passengers, including  people who work at restaurants and other jobs schedules other than 9-5, people who dine out for lunch or dinner, families with childcare trips, etc. * the value of increased service to stations that have been seeing transit-oriented development but currently get low levels of service, such as San Antonio in Mountain View and Lawrence in Sunnyvale/Santa Clara * the notable number of people who live in South San Jose and drive all the way to Diridon because the South SJ stations get little service. * the value of supporting future transit-oriented development that cities are planning * the potential for substantial climate/pollution benefits and congestion relief by carrying many more passengers * the value of understanding infrastructure requirements, such as passing tracks and grade separations, to build support for these investments and funding

The board has important decisions to make in the coming year, including:

  • Frequency of service, and what places will get frequent service.
  • All-day service. Should Caltrain provide more support for more kinds of trips at more times of the day, helping people live and get around with fewer cars, and helping cities use our valuable land to prioritize housing for people over housing for cars?
  • Market share. Given the governor’s directive to be climate-neutral by 2045, do we want transit to increase market share compared to driving?
  • Infrastructure needs for service improvements – what investments will be needed.

Close attention from riders, community leaders, city leaders, employers, TMAs, and others will be important to set the stage for potentially major transportation improvements in the coming decade.

If you can’t attend tomorrow’s workshop, Caltrain is taking feedback on its business plan here:

Caltrain’s data, including the potential for dramatic ridership increases, is here.
Categories: Z. Transportation

Should Caltrain plan to keep up with ridership growth? Board workshop next month

Green Caltrain - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 14:49

On Thursday, October 4 at 9am, the Caltrain board will hold a workshop on one of the biggest topics to consider in the business plan for the service – how aggressively to plan for ridership growth. Read on for more on the big questions that the Caltrain board will be considering – and the issues to share your thoughts about with the board and business plan team.

How big should the vision be?

Today, cities are making big plans that depend on Caltrain carrying many more passengers – San Jose is currently planning for Google’s expansion into the Diridon area, and San Francisco is planning to connect the tracks from 4th and King to the Salesforce/Transbay terminal, where there were 3x as many jobs nearby as the rest of the line combined at the last census.

The latest Caltrain ridership count shows ridership continuing to increase, and trains continuing to be crowded.

Electrification which is under construction is expected to add over 30% more room for people, and Caltrain has gotten funding for longer trains (though Proposition 6 puts that funding at risk).

Big questions remain about how much growth Caltrain should plan for. Caltrain’s electrification plans envisioned 111,000 daily riders. Spur’s Caltrain Corridor Vision Plan urged the region to set sights higher, carrying over 300,000 passengers to fulfill pent-up demand.

So in October, the board will be looking at factors that affect the “long pole in the tent” – the strategic decisions that will shape the investments needed for growth.

A carbon-neutral state and increasing transit market share

Meanwhile, Governor Brown just issued an executive order committing the State of California to carbon-neutrality by 2045. This builds on a law just passed committing to 100% clean energy by 2045. But energy accounts for only 16% of carbon emissions in the state. Transportation accounts for about 40% of California’s emissions. This aggressive climate goal will require not only swapping gas cars for electric cars, but shifting more trips to transit and active transportation, and enabling more people to live and work in places requiring less driving.

How much room in a blended system with High Speed Rail?

The initial proposal for a blended system with High Speed Rail envisioned ten trains per direction per hour, with Caltrain service delivering six trains and High Speed Rail delivering four trains. That service plan wouldn’t be able to move 200,000 to 300,000+ passengers. Caltrain staff have been analyzing what service plan, and what infrastructure, would be able to keep up with growth and market share, and (we hope) climate goals.

How much service to South San Jose/South Santa Clara County?

Another topic that’s part of the “long pole in the tent” is the amount of service to provide to South Santa Clara County and Gilroy.

The Gilroy Extension has ~800 average weekday boardings with minimal service and offpeak ridership is currently ~10,000 with infrequent service. Research suggests that adding service has good likelihood to increase ridership – especially in South San Jose where there are many residents who live near stations with very poor service.

There is funding available from Santa Clara County Measure B for some increased service to South San Jose and South Santa Clara County, and the proposal from the High Speed Rail Authority to electrify the line from Tamien to Gilroy, would allow even more service. Because equipment to run that service is part of the maximum capacity, that will be considered now as part of the picture. Refresh this page for a link to a blog post on opportunities for more service to South San Jose and South County.

Grade separations? Dumbarton service? A second transbay crossing?

In order to provide much more service than today, it would be helpful to have more grade separations that separate the Caltrain tracks from roads. Caltrain doesn’t make decisions about local grade separation designs today, and doesn’t want to get involved in those locally sensitive details in the future. BUT Caltrain could pursue a regional strategy in partnership with cities, the region and the state to fund and fully grade separate the corridor. Should this be part of the picture.

More topics that could affect corridor capacity needs in the longer term include Dumbarton service. The recent SamTrans Dumbarton study envisioned a long-term strategy to have trains from the Central Valley and East Bay crossing the Dumbarton Corridor and continuing right or left on the main line toward San Francisco and Silicon Valley. This would require more mainline capacity.

Another big-picture vision in the State Rail Plan is a second transbay crossing with conventional rail, allowing intercity service from the Peninsula Corridor and San Francisco up to Sacramento. The State Rail Plan’s analysis indicated that adding these longer-distance trips to local service would result in many more passengers to use the infrastructure (and fewer cars on the highways). This would also require more corridor capacity. Caltrain isn’t the lead player in these decisions, but it would be helpful to express a willingness to participate in megaregion and state plans.

All-day, all-week service – later in the business plan process

It also seems counter-intuitive but mid-day and evening service frequency isn’t slated to be part of this workshop and stage of the conversation.

A decision to providing frequent service at time other than rush hour is a big, existential question for the Caltrain corridor. Should Caltrain remain a historical Commuter Rail focusing on peak commute times, or should it adopt the practices followed by dozens of rail services around the globe, providing frequent, all-day service for more kinds of trips, and helping people live with fewer cars, relieving congestion and helping meet the state and planet’s environmental goals?

This will be a critically important decision, but won’t be a big subject of the October workshop, because mid-day and evening service could be increased without increasing equipment or infrastructure.

But, if you’re writing to the Caltrain board, or planning to give public comment at the workshop, it can’t hurt to mention it if this is part of your vision for what Caltrain service should become in the future.

Share your thoughts with the Caltrain board (and let us know)

What do you think about these topics?

  • How ambitious should we be to plan for ridership growth? Should Caltrain plan to meet the pent-up demands shown in SPUR’s vision plan, with goals to take cars off the road and carbon out of the atmosphere, or make incremental changes?
  • With the state’s new goal to be carbon-neutral, should Caltrain have a goal to take more market share from solo highway driving?
  • Should Caltrain actively support connecting the tracks to downtown San Francisco, which will likely move many more riders?
  • Should Caltrain support megaregional goals for longer-distance trips to/from the Central Valley and Sacramento, as a smaller player in big picture decisions?
  • Should Caltrain play a key role in a strategy to grade-separate the corridor with state and regional funding?
  • Should Caltrain support more service to South San Jose and South Santa Clara County?
  • Should Caltrain support frequent all-day service for more kinds of trips (not the subject for October but important to include while you’re corresponding.

The board won’t make final decisions in October, but they will start to set direction, so it’s important to participate and weigh in.

Send your thoughts in writing to the business plan team at Send us a copy at

And if you have time, come to the board workshop at 9am, Thursday October 4.

Categories: Z. Transportation

labor day 2018

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 07:37

Labor day is an important holiday in Pittsburgh. It is a reminder to those in power that it is people like us who keep the city and county running. Thousands of union members from all over the area marched together in celebration of fights won and in preparation for fights to come. When riders’ unions like ours join hands with labor and service unions there isn’t a boss or company we can’t take on and beat. ATU local 85 members have been absolutely instrumental in many of our fights. They have testified in support of riders at Port Authority board meetings, they connect us with riders who are in need of expanded transit, and they show up at many of our rallies. PPT will continue to ensure that riders and transit workers are unified in the fight for a growing, equitable, sustainable transit system that pays living wages and benefits to its workers.

Categories: Z. Transportation

High service marks for Port Authority

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 08:22

Good news that riders give the Port Authority high marks! But this is important too:

“Price seems to be such a sensitive issue for riders that TransPro recommended that the agency do everything it can to avoid raising fares over the next few years. Last year, the agency switched to a flat $2.50 fare for ConnectCard users and $2.75 for cash instead of fare zones based on distance traveled, which reduced fares for about 26 percent of riders.”

Fares are too high. Join the fight for Fare Equity in the Riders’ Vision for Public Transit! Sign up here:…/…/Port-Aut…/stories/201807220091

Categories: Z. Transportation

PPT and Put People First joint meeting

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:48

On October 23rd Pittsburghers for Public Transit came together with Put People First!- PA for a great event to learn the history of Dr. Martin Luther Kings Poor Peoples Campaign, the last campaign he worked on before his assassination. Put People First! PA is an organization committed to fighting for universal healthcare in PA.


The Poor Peoples Campaign brought together people of every race to fight against poverty. Dr. King realized that it wasn’t enough to just be able to vote or integrate schools or lunch counters or public transit. As long as we saw the poor of each race as different than one another we would never succeed in ending poverty. He is quoted as saying “We have moved from the era of civil rights to an era of human rights.”


Organizations like PPT and Put People First all over the country are working in collaboration with the New Poor Peoples Campaign to achieve the equitable future that Dr. Martin Luther King envisioned. Thank you to Put People First and all the PPT members that joined the discussion: we look forward to future collaboration!


Categories: Z. Transportation

Palo Alto refines grade separation options; South Palo Alto choices won’t remove houses

Green Caltrain - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 22:08

On Thursday August 23, the City of Palo Alto held a community meeting at Mitchell Park Library to review the most recently refined set of options to separate the Caltrain tracks from roadways. The diagrams for the meeting were not yet online, but are expected to be posted at the city’s project website.

South Palo Alto options not expected to remove houses

For people who have been following the process, a major cause for concern among people who live near the tracks is the prospect that grade separation might require that houses be demolished. In the South Palo Alto area where this concern was the greatest because houses are near the tracks and cross streets, the most recent design updates suggest that no houses would need to be removed in the options being considered. There are a few locations where driveways would need to be modified, but the driveways would continue to provide full access to the houses.

There are two options that are being considered for Meadow and Charleston streets: a hybrid option where the rail is partway elevated and the roadway is partially depressed, as seen in San Carlos; and a shallow trench option where the train is partway depressed and the roadway is partway elevated.

Still to be considered in additional analysis; how the designs would work with the shallow water table in the area, and whether those considerations would affect houses and driveways. In Burlingame, where residents and city leaders initially preferred a trench for the train, studies showed that it would be difficult and costly to keep the trench dry during rainy season. Palo Alto’s roadway underpass at Oregon Expressway often floods in heavy rains.

Studying traffic consequences of closing Churchill to cars

After reviewing several options for grade separation at Churchill, which would have required removal of dozens of houses, Palo Alto City Council decided earlier to take those options off the table and consider closing Churchill to cars while adding a new crossing for people walking and bicycling. The car traffic consequences of closing Churchill, and designs for a replacement bike/ped crossing are still being studied.

Palo Alto Avenue hybrid crossing could be feasible – but would a major bike commute route be preserved?

Preliminary designs from the city’s new consultants indicate that at Palo Alto Avenue at the border between Palo Alto and Menlo Park, a hybrid design partly elevating the rail tracks and depressing the roadway could be feasible. The other option would be closing Palo Alto Avenue, sending drivers into downtown Palo Alto via the University Avenue intersection.

However, the consultants had not yet considered the impact of a hybrid design on the intersection’s role in a major bicycle commute routes to and from Stanford, downtown Palo Alto, and the downtown Caltrain station with popular baby bullet service. There is a bike/ped bridge across San Francisquito creek that connects people bicycling and walking between Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Also many people cross El Camino Real on foot and by bicycle at the intersection of Sand Hill, ECR and Palo Alto avenue.

If your blogger heard correctly at the display station, the roadway grade in the preliminary design would be 7%, a grade that is too steep to meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. At the meeting, community members brainstormed about designs that would accommodate a less steep grade that would be accessible to many more people.

Enthusiasm for a citywide tunnel, and hopeful thoughts about how to pay for it

A citywide tunnel has remained among the set of options being considered, despite the fact that staff and a number of city council members have expressed information and opinions that the cost of such an option would be out of reach. However, community members at the meeting expressed optimism that creative thinking and billionaires in the community could help overcome the cost challenges.

A citywide tunnel would start in South Palo Alto after San Antonio Caltrain station at the border with Mountain View and end before the University Caltrain station. It would require the California avenue station to be rebuilt underground, and would eliminate the Embarcadero station which is used only for Stanford games, unless there was funding to build an underground station for that limited purpose.

An earlier cost and financing draft study indicated that the cost would be between $3.3billion and $4 billion. If other public funding sources provided $150Million per intersection, and three new intersections are separated, then Palo Alto might have a local obligation in the range of $3 billion. New homeowners would see a property tax surcharge of $6,500 per year (page 11) to raise approximately $700 million in revenue (page 5), while long-time homeowners would see an increase of $1750 per year. To raise the amount needed for a citywide tunnel.

Next steps

More detailed designs, and updated cost estimates, are expected to be available at the next community meeting in November. If you have questions, contact the city’s project team at or by phone at 650-329-2520

Categories: Z. Transportation

VTA staff proposes Next Network bus & light rail service increases be “dead on arrival”

Green Caltrain - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 16:49

At the August 17th meeting of the VTA board Ad Hoc Financial Sustainability Committee, VTA staff proposed that Next Network bus and light rail service increases be “dead on arrival” – a 5% service cut, instead of 10% service increase, in response to deep budget deficit of $50M-$60M per year including operating and maintenance.

In response, advocates and policy analysts are encouraging creative thinking to address the budget gap without triggering a spiral of service cuts and ridership decreases.

VTA went through an extensive professional analysis and community outreach to redesign its transit network, approved by the board in 2017, with goals to increase transit ridership with a more frequent and connected transit network. After board approval, however, the Next Network rollout was mostly delayed, waiting for the completion of the extension of BART to Beryessa in San Jose, with a delivery date that has been repeatedly deferred. Now, with facing a steep budget deficit, the bus and light rail service increases may not see light of day.

The staff report proposes to continue shifts away from service that provides geographical coverage in areas with low ridership, toward a network of routes that are expected to gain more “ridership” with increased frequency. The report proposes to keep some frequency increases on high ridership routes and to add connections to the new BART extension stations. But overall, the service level would be down instead of up.

The staff report recommends long-term consideration of capital project changes. But so far, it doesn’t include anything specific about changes to capital projects like the Vasona Light rail extension, where land use plans (or the region’s land use philosophy) may have changed since the project was initially conceived decades ago as a light rail extension into low-density suburban neighborhoods. Nor is there any sign of reconsideration of the BART extension from Diridon to Santa Clara, exactly paralleling the current Caltrain service, on a part of the Caltrain line that isn’t crowded, even as the Caltrain line is being electrified, with the potential for more frequent stops. BART service duplicating Caltrain service between Diridon and Santa Clara would be redundant, but is politically popular among local voters and leaders who have a brand preference for BART over Caltrain.

Instead of cutting redundant and/or likely-low-ridership but popular capital projects, VTA staff proposes to cut service for largely low-income riders of buses and light rail trains; though the VTA Next Network analysis showed that VTA runs fewer service hours per capita than at earlier times in VTA’s history or at other better-performing transit agencies (see the Next Network analysis reports from 2016).

While capital project changes weren’t discussed specifically, VTA has recently issued a Request for Proposals for a “Strategic Plan for Advancing High Capacity Transit Corridors.” Such strategic planning has the potential to refine VTA’s capital plans in a way that reduces the costs of projects that won’t perform as well as initially conceived, and sets the stage for better performance in the future.

Additional proposed strategies to reduce the deficit include freezing the hiring of non-critical positions, and adjustments to employee wages and/or benefits; and in the long-term revisiting contributions to regional partner services (logically including Caltrain).

Policy nonprofits recommend creative solutions

Two letters to the committee from transportation policy nonprofits, included in the staff report, offered additional suggestions to re-think VTA service.

Regional think tank SPUR recommended reviewing operating cost factors compared to peer agencies, and looking at regional partnerships no only in terms of costs, but in terms of value to customers. Working Partnerships, a labor-backed public policy organization, offered recommendations including new sources of revenue such as stronger transit-oriented development, taxes on rideshare, partnerships with major employment centers and transportation management associations (TMAs) for transit pass bulk purchases, and “mobility as a service” (MaaS) offerings to bundle first and last mile options such as scooter, bikeshare, and rideshare.

Combining SPUR’s suggestion about building on the value of regional partnerships, and WPUSA’s suggestions about MaaS and employer partnerships – VTA might get better financial results by thinking broadly and expanding service packages to meet the needs of customers, instead of retrenching to offer less service. For large and medium-sized customers, such as Google at Diridon, or Stanford, or San Jose State University, or residential developments near transit lines, it is inefficient and perplexing to have to purchase separate transportation packages from VTA, Caltrain, BART, plus carshare, carpool, bikeshare and scooter offerings. The MaaS opportunity – for services and revenue – would logically be bigger with a footprint that meets the needs of customers. Rather than retreating from partnerships, this strategy would see VTA embracing coordination to address customer needs.

According to second-hand information – your blogger wasn’t at the meeting and minutes aren’t posted yet – the VTA Ad Hoc Financial Sustainability Committee didn’t recommend the staff report’s recommendations to the board. We will seek an update on what next steps are in assessing responses to VTA’s serious budget challenges.

What are your thoughts about ways for VTA to address its budget deficit while avoiding a death spiral of service cuts to reduce revenue?

Categories: Z. Transportation

Mon-Oakland connector

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 07:39

“Jonah McAllister-Erickson of Pittsburghers for Public Transit said, ‘We probably could use better public transit, but this is not the solution. Micro transit projects have been a complete flop’ in other cities, with low ridership and high operating costs.”…/Proteste…/stories/201807300043

Categories: Z. Transportation

Great article on fare capping

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:31

An article was written by Margaret J. Krauss published by WESA entitled “How Fare-Capping Could Make Transit More Equitable”. It did an incredible job of describing the ways Port Authority’s current fare system cost low-income folks more for access the same transit as their more wealthy counterparts.
“‘A lot of people can’t shell out the cash up front for a pass, and often end up paying more than it’s worth’, said Emily Cleath of Just Harvest, a nonprofit organization which addresses hunger through economic disparity. Cleath spoke at a recent meeting of transit riders in Rankin.
‘Instead of having to ration their rides or pay more than other people for the same service, a fare-capping system would ensure that our lowest income riders are not paying more for the system, simply because they can’t afford a pass.'”



you can find the article here.

Categories: Z. Transportation