Palo Alto is preparing to solicit proposals this month for a consultant who would help the city form a Transportation Management Association, an organization that would manage downtown's traffic-reduction efforts.
The new association is among the most ambitious proposals in the city's multi-pronged approach to treating downtown's parking shortage, a topic that has emerged over the past two years as a leading City Council priority. The association would be charged with marketing and coordinating new transportation programs aiming to get cars off the road. These would include new shuttle services, provision of Caltrain Go Passes to downtown workers and various car-share and ride-share services.
According to an informational report from Jessica Sullivan, Palo Alto's parking manager, the city is planning to release a request for proposals in mid-April for a consultant to help develop the new agency. The consultant's duties will include selecting a steering committee of stakeholders (this will include downtown businesses, residents and city officials), community outreach, development of the association's formal structure and data collection.
The report states that the association is envisioned to be self-sufficient by its third operating year, at which point it would be managing and marketing transportation services for downtown as well as potentially other parts of the city. The Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to consider this report Wednesday night.
In addition, the city recently released a request for a proposal for a provider of new shuttle services. The proposal includes the existing city-run Crosstown Shuttle and eight suggested routes, including one on Embarcadero Road that would help serve a new satellite parking lot east of Highway 101. The West Shuttle Route would provide services between South Palo Alto and Stanford Shopping Center, while the California Avenue Business Noontime Shuttle would link Stanford Research Park with the business district during the lunch hours. Other shuttles would link East Palo Alto with the University Avenue Caltrain station and ferry drivers between downtown and the Fremont BART station. The city has also proposed an "open air trolley" that would run from University Avenue to Stanford Shopping Center during summer months.
The request for proposal also invites shuttle providers to propose their own routes.
In addition to these transportation-demand-management policies, the city is also looking at ways to increase supply. Last year, the city instituted a valet program at the Alma/High Street garage to accommodate more cars. A similar program is being considered for the City Hall garage, according to Sullivan's report.
Officials are also planning to build a new downtown garage, a project that would be supported by funds from a hotel-tax increase voters will be asked to approve in November.
The staff report also notes that the city is developing several requests for proposals for "garage-technology updates, including parking guidance systems and revenue access controls." As part of this process, staff will also consider having paid on-street parking, the report states.