Palo Alto urges greater Caltrain role in proposed tax measure

City Council advocates for more funding for commuter service

Santa Clara County voters may be asked in November to support a sales-tax increase that would fund more than $3 billion in transportation projects, ranging from pothole patches and bike improvements to an extension of BART.

But to get Palo Alto's support, the measure should make clear provisions for improving Caltrain and address its growing ridership, members of the City Council argued on Monday night after hearing a pitch for the new tax.

The council heard Monday from Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which is spearheading the tax measure. He said that recent surveys of the organization's member companies have shown that with the economy growing, traffic is once again emerging as a top priority. He noted that the federal highway trust is nearing bankruptcy and pointed to a $198 billion funding gap in the state's highway system.

Though he said that it's better to have more traffic because of economic growth than no traffic because of a recession, the growing number of commuters is also creating new challenges. The proposal his group is advocating for would raise between $3.2 billion and $3.75 billion over 30 years, with the funds divided into six categories -- three focusing on road improvements (potholes, bike projects and expressway enhancements) and three on transit. The transit projects include extending BART to San Jose; making transit improvements for senior citizens, the poor and the disabled; and improving Caltrain, he said.

The drive for the tax increase is off to a promising start, Guardino said, with a recent poll showing 73 percent of respondents supporting such a measure. Yet the council was more cautious Monday, with one member after another arguing that Caltrain should not take a back seat to BART when it comes to transportation improvements. Currently, the plan is to spend roughly a seventh of the funds from the tax (or about $500 million) on Caltrain improvements.

"One-seventh isn't even that much in that I think they are equal systems, really, in terms of the benefit they provide," Councilman Greg Scharff said Monday. "The costs to make Caltrain really work are so much less than what it takes to do BART."

His colleagues agreed, with Councilwoman Karen Holman saying "nothing is more critical" than Caltrain and urging that grade separations be explored as part of the conversation. Councilman Pat Burt also stressed the importance of Caltrain, and noted that support for Caltrain is stronger in Palo Alto than for BART.

"For Silicon Valley, Caltrain is more important than BART and its capital needs are less," Burt said. "That doesn't mean we shouldn't fund both."

Councilman Larry Klein agreed and told Guardino that there is a perception in Palo Alto that the city hasn't gotten its share of the money from prior transportation measures. BART may be laudable, he said, but very few Palo Alto voters use it.

"Sometimes things have been transferred out of things (that we) originally thought would be spent in the area," Klein said. "The perception is that BART is great but so are a lot of other things that don't come to Palo Alto. You can cite all the statistics you want about how good BART is, (but) it's not necessarily going to persuade the people in Palo Alto."

Speakers from the public by and large supported this position. Adina Levin, co-founder of the group Friends of Caltrain, cited frustrations within her group about the commuter system losing out on funds from prior measures.

"The thing I keep hearing from people in the Friends of Caltrain community, from (the) 2000 ballot measure, they're quite concerned that they voted for other things (such as Caltrain electrification) and the money was utilized for other purposes," Levin said.

But Omar Chatty, a frequent critic of Caltrain, took the opposite stance and suggested that Caltrain will merely be a "shill for high-speed-rail" and that the city will "lose control" if it supports improvements to the system. He called for more clarity in how the funds would be spent.

That question, Guardino said, is still being explored. There are four different working groups, including transportation officials from various cities and major businesses, now meeting to consider the details for such a measure. The Leadership Group, he said, also plans to conduct more polling before making a final decision about going to the voters in November.

"There is no ballot measure yet," Guardino said. "There is no level of specificity because we haven't decided to go forward. If we do decide to go forward, there will be that level of specificity."

The council ultimately voted unanimously to have its Policy and Services Committee further explore the proposed tax measure and then issue a recommendation to the full council. The committee is scheduled to discuss the proposal Tuesday night.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2014 at 9:34 am

Whereas I am greatly in favor of increases in funding for public transportation and Caltrain in particular, I am not sure that increasing Sales Tax is the way to go. All these increases in sales tax have to end somewhere, at what stage is enough is enough. Is 20% the cap, or 25%, or what? At stage we have just got to stop thinking that an increase in sales tax is the answer to funding.

What about increasing the tax on gasoline? Or what about an increase in tax on luxury cars? By increasing sales tax there is little anyone can do to avoid paying it. There is no incentive to choose another method to pay less tax. By increasing the tax on gas people may think twice about their gas usage and think about alternative forms of transit.

On top of anything else, I am not in favor of taxing carte blanche. Taxes tend to make people angry particularly if there's nothing that can be done to avoid it. By giving an opportunity to rethink our spending and ultimately our taxes, it gives us the opportunity to rethink our lifestyle and the feelings of choice about where our tax dollars are going. I would prefer a tax on gas to fund public transportation rather than a sales tax.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

> "One-seventh isn't even that much in that I think they are
> equal systems, really, in terms of the benefit they provide,
> " Councilman Greg Scharff said Monday.

Well .. are they really equal systems, as Council Member G. Scharff seems to think?

Perhaps a few details might answer that question—

For each system:

Number of miles? Bart: 104m Caltrain: 77m

Ridership? Bart: 400K Caltrain: 50K (weekdays)

Web Link

Web Link
Web Link

Total Capital Costs: BART: Billions Caltrain: ??

Yearly operation expenditure for each system? Bart: $600M Caltrain: $100M

Yearly capital costs needed for each system? Bart: ?? Caltrain: ??

Yearly System Losses: Bart: $200M Caltrain: $50M

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2014 at 10:04 am

Conclusion to posting above)

By-the-numbers, it really is hard to see that there is much similarity between BART and Caltrain—and there is nothing in the numbers to suggest that these are equal systems.

So—what can Council Member Sharff be thinking about?

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on May 20, 2014 at 10:25 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

This is a Santa Clara County tax for Santa Clara County projects.

Here CalTrain is equally or more important than BART where most of Wayne's numbers have nothing to do with the cities here that do not have BART service.

Posted by yes, a resident of Downtown North
on May 20, 2014 at 10:32 am

We are in favor of this tax. Caltrain is a tremendously important service and deserves a dedicated funding source.

Regarding funding from sales taxes or gasoline taxes, it is curious that highway projects are often funded by sales taxes (eg the $100 million merging lanes that are currently being built on the Palo Alto part of Hwy 101). I really wish those were funded by gas taxes or car registration fees instead, but the car lobby must be pushing back hard on those kinds of taxes.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2014 at 10:36 am

> Here CalTrain is equally or more important than BART

Both of these so-called "systems" require vast amounts of taxpayer subsidies. And certainly the vary small ridership of Caltrain (about 25K unique people every weekday, and about half that, on the weekends) makes the vast public subsidy of Caltrain a very big loss compared to BART. The relative sizes of these two systems most assuredly would come into consideration--if such a tax were to be authorized by the public.

This tax, by the way, is projected for 30 years, and will doubtless be extended into future forever. BART will sooner, or later, be operating in Santa Clara County, so at that time, BART, and its numbers, will most certainly be relevant to all financing consideration.

Given that Caltrain crosses BART now, offering service in Santa Clara County, and San Mateo County--claiming that BART numbers are not relevent when considering the cost, and the subsidies, of these very public transportation systems is not particularly clear thinking, or honest, in my opinion.

Posted by yes, a resident of Downtown North
on May 20, 2014 at 11:35 am

Highways require even larger taxpayer subsidies. BART and Caltrain are equally important parts of our regional transportation system and deserve their own dedicated parts of the budget. Comparing BART and Caltrain is largely irrelevant since BART does not stop anywhere near Palo Alto and likely will not in my lifetime. Caltrain ridership has been growing every year and would be growing much faster if they had the faster trains and larger capacity that their electrification program is promising.

Posted by Garden Gnome, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 20, 2014 at 11:56 am

In other words, we need to pay for salaries, benefits and pensions.
Sure, why not? Let's raise sales taxes again and again.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 20, 2014 at 11:56 am

Which CALTRAIN is this suppose to help? The existing CALTRAIN or is this to subsidize the future CALTRAIN - the "electrified" CALTRAIN? I am against the electrified system - we need new engines for the existing system. Note the ads lately on TV for the new diesel Mercedes Benz E250 Diesel Bluetech = more efficient than the electrical cars out there now.

Then you can check out the current article concerning the earthquake predictions in the Chronicle today - we are on a major fault line. Is that relevant? YES. There has to be a electrical generating system out there and in an major earthquake there will be none available.

Will BART circle the bay? YES - there is a major push and desire for that to happen.

Then you can check out the current overruns on the central transportation system being built in SF - the whole point of going electric - supposedly.
That whole project is in major trouble and the city of SF is going to put a tax on their ballot to subsidize that whole operation.

So just keep digging the hole deeper so you cannot get out - the current system works - with new engines it can go into the SF transportation center - just like trains go into other train depots all over the world.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

@yes, re highways funded by sales taxes -- just about everything I pay sales tax on arrives by highway. None arrive by Caltrain or BART. Yeah, that's no excuse.

I've always questioned the rationale of the $165/year price of a Caltrain Go-Pass. If it's such a good idea, why can't I buy one? Does it really take a 90 percent discount to incentivize the ridership of those who qualify?

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on May 20, 2014 at 11:59 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Yes has it right. This is a Santa Clara tax for county projects.

The council was correct and should band with other CalTrain service (but not BART) cities like Mountain View and Sunnyvale to argue for more CalTrain funding in the ballot proposal.

Still, this is the kind of funding that is necessary to improve highway performance AND support growing transit ridership as our sub regional economy grows.

Posted by Remember measure A, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Do you remember about ten to fifteen years ago when we increased the sales tax to support Caltrain's plans to run trains across the Dumbarton bridge corridor to Fremont? They took the money and never implemented the plan. I support public transportation and voted for the measure. I don't want to be fooled again.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

California already has the highest marginal income tax, the highest gas tax, and the highest sales tax in the country. But we have terrible schools, collapsing infrastructure, high crime, high unemployment, and expensive utilities. Where is all the money going, and why would anyone think additional taxes wouldn't be wasted just like the rest of it? When is the last time you remember a big project that seemed like it was a great value or over delivered or finished early or was under budget?

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

musical trotted out the well-worn argument that highways carry goods for us all but Caltrain doesn't. Two problems with this: 1) freight trains use the Caltrain tracks at night, and 2) there may well be PEOPLE on the train who work for companies that provide you goods and services. If those people can't get to work you don't get your goods and services. In Silicon Valley people are the key to productivity, and the products often don't need trucks to carry them.

Posted by Daily Rider, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 20, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Although I ride Caltrain daily, I think it should be shut down, along with SamTrans and Valley Transit. We should legalize privately-owned common carrier jitneys and buses to take people from where they are to where they want to go. We'd order them up by smartphone, like Uber, make a couple of stops, and get to our destinations at driving speed (faster than bus or train) without the capital cost, economic distortion, government control, inaccountability, and physical disruption of public bus and transit. A system like this could be profitable and could make a huge dent in Bay Area congestion.

Posted by bill, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm

As I recall we passed many taxes to improve transportation. But it is worse. Let''s first get a full accounting of
where other taxes when, before new taxes. Are we getting money's worth?

Or into pockets of people in politics?


Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

@Daily Rider - that's a great idea. Just turn caltrain into dedicated bus lanes, and charge private operators a toll. Only problem is there isn't enough fat to skim off for the politicians and unions, so it will never happen.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 20, 2014 at 4:42 pm

@DailyRider, untested speculative systems always outperform real-life systems.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 20, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Ages ago we increased the sales tax by 1/2% for bringing BART into Santa Clara County. The was specifically called out as the purpose of the 1/2% increase. So where has that 1/2% gone?

That is the first problem we have here - people are talked into voting for a project that does not happen. Because SOMEONE has a better idea = puts the sales tax / bond increase into the general fund where it looses its identity and gets spent on something else.

This seems to happen fairly frequently. And we already know that SF is hurting for money for the great transportation center.

Before I vote for additional taxes of any kind I would like to know what the great transportation king has done up to now? Time for some accountability.

We want the extension of BART to circle the bay. That was the original intent - that is still the intent. And CALTRAIN is a great system - it PERFORMS the job assigned to it - it just needs some new, modern engines.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 20, 2014 at 7:57 pm

BART is coming to Santa Clara County. The line to San Jose is being built right now. It won't do Palo Alto any good, but the money is being spent on exactly what was advertised.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Donald - the tax was for BART to circle the bay. Yes - it is coming to Santa Clara - next step will be the Stanford Station. This can service the SU employees and students as well as the companies that are on the west side of the campus - the Veterans Administration, SAP, Tesla, HP, LMC, etc. The major hospitals for SU are on the west side of the campus. That is the side of the campus that is available for more growth. It is going to happen - you cannot move all of those people by car. CALTRAIN does a good job for the east side of the campus.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 20, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Read the narrative - the Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO is not an elected government representative. If the tax measure is put on the ballot there is no way to control how the money is spent. I would prefer to see the Commissioner of the Santa Clara County district(s) affected to be the spokesman for this effort.

As to comments that few Palo Alto people use BART that is not true - people drive to Daly City or Millbrae. It is too time consuming, expensive to drive to and park in the city so best to park at BART for $3.00 then ride up. It makes no sense to take a car up to SF unless going to the GGNP side of the city. I was at a meeting Monday in SF and most of the people came from all over the bay area via BART. No one wanted to bring a car up and waste time driving around for parking garages. It reduces the cost and hassle, and gives you time while riding up to work. CALTRAIN is good for AT&T Park but a bit sideways for Market Street.

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2014 at 7:36 am

SteveU is a registered user.

No to the TAX
Firstly: We already have Prop A. Where a major chunk of the TAX has been wasted on 'LEGAL Bickering' and not actually building of a Bay Area usable infrastructure. This TAX will only make the Lawyers more work

Secondly: Roads are NOT going away. Building a house. How do you deliver concrete via the Train? You need roads. If the tax base (private vehicle taxes) goes down, where do you think the added $ to maintain the roads will come from? The Truckers of course. Are they going to absorb the huge increase? H no. They must pass it on in delivery fees. $100 a gallon Milk is in the future if this kind short sighted thinking continues.

Thirdly: Unless the Train CIRCLES the bay, The train is a huge time sink for those who do not arrive and depart on the peninsula . A Train to Milbrae with a tranfer (not cheap) to BART to get to the east bay can eat an additional hour EACH WAY waiting for connections.

A full circle BART is needed NOW. Today, not 20 years down the road.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2014 at 7:59 am

It strikes me that there are plenty of good sensible ideas here from people who are not politicians. It is about time that public transportation was put in the hands of engineers and business people who know how to get things done in a reasonable length of time and a reasonable amount of money.

Get transportation out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of people who know how to design and run a profitable system.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 8:55 am

Re-read the narrative. Larry Klein thinks Palo Alto has no interest in BART. That is SO WRONG. The whole peninsula needs BART to circle the bay - that helps all of the cities that are not currently serviced by BART.

Then there is a comment that the funds will extend BART to San Jose. That is already happening - it is going on to Santa Clara at this time. It is ahead of schedule and within funding.

Councilman Burt reiterates that Caltrain is more important than BART - that is not the big picture. BART has to be factored into the big picture for the cities not currently serviced.

Is the Leadership group the same as helped push for the AT&T park in Santa Clara? So now parking and transportation are the major problems being addressed. And Joe Montana is being threatened to not build his hotel and development because AT&T wants more parking. How is that for good planning?
How did Santa Clara let that get that by them?

And what improvements do they plan on making to CALTRAIN? They need to be specific - no slip and slide is going to happen here. We all need to know top to bottom who specifically is doing what. Here is where the Supervisors for Santa Clara County come in - they need to manage this.

We appreciate that the Leadership Group knows where the future developments are going to happen but a lot of mistakes have already happened so this has to be a micro-managed event. There is too much history here on misspent funds.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2014 at 10:58 am

(Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.)

Posted by coooper, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2014 at 11:31 am

I am in favor of rolling back sales tax rates.

The "expanding economy" already brings in proportionately higher tax revenues, and so increasing the tax rate is tantamount to double dipping.

And I am dismissive of any polls cited by Carl Guardino's propaganda machine.

Posted by coooper, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2014 at 11:37 am

Keep in mind that even if this tax is tagged for BART or Caltrain, in reality what it does is free up public funds to spend on other projects and government salaries.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Coooper - very good points. We need to get a breakdown of transportation funds and how they are spent.

Posted by Bru, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Bru is a registered user.

why do we have to pay more taxes to pay for stuff that should already be planned and budgeted for? the whole lots of these losers are incompetent and it is a continual robbery and extortion for us to pay more money for them.

you know what ... a real progressive tax system in this country would replace the incentive for ALL citizens to feel the same and vote the same on these kinds of issue and promote responsibility.

if people poorer than me and you had to pay a small percentage less than you and me on their taxes, and people richer than you and me had to pay a small percentage more than you and me, these government problems would affects us all more equally and make it easier to gin up a consensus and get these programs running right or fire the people who cannot do their jobs.

fix the tax system, fix the incentives, fix the country, state, county and cities.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Would it be fair to say Carl Guardino is San Jose-centric? That has struck me to be the case over the years.
My instinct tells me NO on raising the sales tax - may kill the goose that laid the golden egg, eventually...

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm

We need to get 9 county wide sales tax to spend on bay area wide mass transit projects, not just one county at a time

Posted by Ben, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Without specific projects with clearly defined goals and costs, I'll vote no. As has happened so many times before, taxes advertised for one purpose get lost in the bureaucracy and are spent/wasted elsewhere.

The only project I saw worth spending that kind of money on was the desire to add grade separations along the Caltrain corridor. Regardless of whether Caltrian goes electric or whether Jerry's Giant Brown Skid Mark (aka High Speed Rail) ever makes it to the Peninsula, grade separated rail crossings simply make sense.

Bart is terribly useful, but also terribly run. Throwing money at it is hardly a solution to anything.

Posted by Bren, a resident of Stanford
on May 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Why should anyone care what Palo Alto thinks about this? Haven't they been saying how they don't want to grow or be part of the region? Which is it?

Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2014 at 2:31 am

You can't simply take up the CalTrain tracks and turn the right of way into a busway or run BART on it. Union Pacific uses those tracks for freight and would want to be bought out for millions if they would even agree to abandon the right of way, which they might not. BART cannot share tracks with CalTrain/Union Pacific. The latter two use the standard rail gauge and BART uses an oddball rail gauge. Then there is the wild card of Governor Moonbeam's HSR which has designs on the current CalTrain right of way. We don't know how that drama will end.

For BART to circle the bay it would have to run overhead or beneath the CalTrain/Union Pacific right of way, or make room for it on the 101 or 280 freeway. The construction costs for any of those options woult be huge.

The current setup works for largely historical reasons: it's already built and isn't soaking up new-construction funds with their inevitable "cost overruns".

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

BART does not compete with CALTRAIN in the current set-up. If BART was to circle the bay - OUR PART IS THE ONLY MISSING PART - it would be closer to the HWY 280 side of the peninsula. It is not set -up to compete - it is to complement and complete the existing set-up. The whole point is to add to areas where emerging growth is occurring so that the automobile use is reduced. It is to add ridership - not replace existing ridership. It could have a station on the west side of Stanford where all of the current and future growth will be occurring. It could go down to APPLE in Cupertino so we have all of the high technology points connected.

We love CALTRAIN as it is today and the AMTRACK trains - I can see more AMTRACK use in the future for carrying people - how about down the coast to Monterey? That sounds like a really cool trip.

Talking of rails - note for all of the people that tout the European systems - the French have purchased rolling stock that is too big for the existing platforms so all will be replaced up to 68.5 million. That is in the Wall Street Journal and San Jose Mercury - not noted in the SF Chronicle. Is that telling us something?

It would be nice to know that the current proposed "tax" is not to correct some error the transportation king has made. I suspect that HSR and electrified CALTRAIN are lurking with some revelation that still is to be revealed - all of the shoes here have not even begun to drop. If you think you are going to pull up tracks for HSR think again. Just keep digging that hole deeper and deeper.

Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2014 at 11:43 am

Unless you run BART down 280, where are you going to get the right of way to lay BART tracks? You'd be looking at hundreds of eminent domain seizures of some very expensive real estate. The cost would be prohibitive.

Run BART down El Camino?

Posted by Midttown, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm

The only way to limit government is to limit their money.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm

You could elevate BART on the Central Expressway or Foothill Expressway. Go up and see the Daly City BART up to the city - it does not consume that much space. The space consumer is the parking garage - that is why some area in Stanford should be dedicated for that. They are going to have parking garages in any case so have one for BART - it is paid parking.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 22, 2014 at 2:28 pm

The topic and concern for seizure of property by eminent domain - that is exactly what is happening in the central valley. We don't seem to care if is far away - but that is exactly what is happening. And if HSR comes up the peninsula then all of those 1 level older apartments on ALMA will disappear, as well as any houses on ALMA. You can't lay in that much infrastructure for a train going more than 100 MPR without putting in a large safety boundary.

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2014 at 5:20 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

I don't disagree that 280 would be an easy right of way path, but how do you connect to Milbrae (the current EOL)?

Why not run a SINGLE track alongside the Dunbarton and connect to the east bay and build a station at the point where getting a clear path gets difficult (say: Marsh and Bayfront or Willow and Bayfront

Single track should do it as there only needs to be 1 train at a time in a dead-end station and the transit time to the mainline is short. Think a long SFO spur

Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Central expressway and Foothill expressway dead-end at Menlo Park. There is still a void between Millbrae and Menlo Park which CalTrain already serves just fine.

Bringing BART on the old Dumbarton turnstile bridge instead of CalTrain is not a bad idea. BART could then connect with CalTrain. Extending BART from Dumbarton to the 280 would involve many eminent domain seizures and the locals wouldn't go for it, or it would have to be underground.

All this would cost billions for a service which would parallel CalTrain up the peninsula. How much of a tax increase are you willing to pay to make this happen?

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm

I can catch the 8:05 Caltrain out of Palo Alto and be in San Fran at 8:42. Similar return time in the afternoon. How long would it take on any BART proposal? BART takes almost that long from Milbrae.

Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2014 at 9:39 pm

The old Dumbarton turnstile bridge still stands and has a connecting right-of-way going over Bayshore fwy to what used to be called Redwood Junction. It connects with the CalTrain main line at Woodside road. It could be CalTrain, BART or even a busway. With CalTrain in place and paid for, there is no need to build a parallel route up 280, 101 or El Camino.

It looks like plans for Dumbarton have stalled at the hands of incompetent bureaucrats.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

BART on 280, that doesn,t make any sense, most jobs and high density is east of El Camino Real. Time think subway under El Camino Real, stations with mixed use projects above stations or nearby.

Look at San Antonio Center, sits between El Camino Real, Caltrain and is near VTA. Tracks from the old rail bridge which one set goes north another set goes south. The southward set runs behind East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, right up to San Antonio Rd which it follows right into San Antinio Center.

VTA gets extented right into San Antonio Center. Station and tracking.under ground.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Garrett - I recall that you live in the east bay - correct? Possibly you do not realize that all of the traffic on El Camino is coming from other locations - because few people live on El Camino. There are not a lot of major corporate businesses on El Camino.
The goal here is to reduce traffic on 280 - that is a very heavily used to go to large corporate sites on the west side of the peninsula - including Apple in Cupertino, LMC, HP, Veteran's Administration, Stanford - west side where all new development will occur.

CALTRAIN is taking care of the east side of the peninsula. The San Antonio Center has a CALTRAIN station. All of those people are going to work either in the city or San Jose. The people on 280 are going to work in SF or San Jose. The east side is taken care of - the heavy traffic is on 280 so that is where we have an unaddressed transportation problem.
Why are you focusing on San Antonio Center? It is not a major employer in the bay area and it already has CALTRAIN. Also buses on El Camino.

Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2014 at 6:31 pm

These are all theoretical discussions, aside from the fact that there are absolutely no studies or plans to put BART on the 280, as the goal is to put these extremely limited funds towards improving the already well utilized/near capacity Caltrain, which already goes to the major job centers, such as San Francisco, Palo Alto, and San Jose.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 24, 2014 at 11:52 am

Robert - CALTRAIN is a long walk to the financial district in SF. Or the civic center. People drive up to Daly City or Millbrae to take BART up to the major corporate centers co-located to Market Street - that includes the symphony. People do not walk from CALTRAIN to those locations. CALTRAIN is a great system but it is not aligned where people are going for a business job.

All we are doing here is connecting the BART station in Santa Clara to Daly City - or Millbrae.

Who would have thought that BART was going to Santa Clara? It is with-in schedule and funding at this time. I am sure that was theoretical a while back - but there it is.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Caltrain is a good route for what it does, but in both SF and SJ it terminates in a poor location with no sensible shuttles to get people where they need to go (at least in my experience at both ends).

BART running up and down the Peninsula along the 280 corridor would help bring a different group of people into the realm of public transit.

Caltrain is near the jobs on the Peninsula and 280 is often near more expensive housing options. I know several people who drive up to 280 to BART rather than people who drive 101 to BART, and that is just my acquaintances. BART extension would be a great idea, but in the meantime, can some thought be put into the first and last mile options at the present Caltrain stations and in particular their termini.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm

CALTRAIN is suppose to end up in the great SF Transportation Center - but now that is questionable. They do not need an electrified CALTRAIN to go into the Transportation Center - a new, high powered diesel will work fine. Also - if they are now building up the area of SF - Mission Bay that will need another station for CALTRAIN. That whole area is now going to be redeveloped. Also a Warrior stadium in the AT&T parking lot so need to keep the existing rail line. The whole SF Transportation Center - which is the excuse for electrification - is in a lot of BIG financial trouble.

Does that affect us? You Bet! That is the whole rationalization for whatever is happening on the peninsula.

Different topic - The VTA Lite Rail in Santa Clara will shut down for 9 days to add additional rails to support the traffic for the Levi Stadium. Is that where your proposed tax dollars are going? We are already spending a lot of money on laying rail lines - so let's use those dollars we have been taxed for how many years on a connection from Santa Clara to Daly City?
Imagine a Stanford Station!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You will have riders for work on campus and for weekend sports events - that is so great.

Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on May 26, 2014 at 10:45 pm

This Stanford station would be for BART or CalTrain? Again, where are you going to lay the track and how much will it cost to acquire the land? 280, El Camino, Central expressway and foothill expressway (which used to be a rail line)come to mind. Rail service between Stanford and Apple sounds a bit limited given the cost of building it. Unlike the CalTrain main line it wouldn't go up to the city or down to Gilroy.

Agreed that CalTrain electrification would be a panacea for nothing. It would be a giant money sink.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

Larry - BART would go from Santa Clara to Daly City - or Millbrae in order to complete the circle of the bay. That is how it would go up to the cities of SF or San Jose. It would probably have to be built in stages - SAME AS HSR. The VTA and BART can figure out the cheapest way to do that - they get paid to figure that out. It would probably be elevated.

Stanford has the land to put in a depot - it financially benefits them to move their employees and students without building more parking garages on their property. They have a lot of parking garages. It would benefit PA and SU on weekend game days so that there is not excessive parking and commute problems. It makes financial sense to look at the whole picture. The whole picture is multiple forms of transportation instead of being stuck in freeways or CALTRAIN.
People I know in Los Altos do not want BART because it would bother their traffic patterns but now in Los Altos they are getting into the multiple residential dwelling issues. Their city is now changing - they will now have TRAFFIC.
Person I know from Los Altos thought we should build on the Maybell site - low income and senior level. But they have no plans for their low income, homeless. So go figure.
Santa Clara is building rail all over the place because it financially benefits them - we can too.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm

SU has invested a huge amount of money in it's Athletic Complex. Part of that investment is to host national and international events - play-off games, etc. In order to do that there has to be multiple forms of transportation to move lots of people from SF or San Jose to SU for an event. It pays everyone to make that happen in the most convenient manner. They are all not going to fit on the freeway or CALTRAIN.

There is an international soccer championship that will take place at Candlestick Park. They are going to tear down Candlestick Park so SU is a good place for the championships in the future - as well as play-off games for divisional championships.

It all comes down to who benefits. The people who donated to the Maybell project where the construction people who would benefit from contracts for that project. The people who are against BART are the people who are sponsoring HSR and electrification because they benefit through contracts for that effort. They do not want any money spent on anything that would detract from those contracts. Common sense does not apply when money is at stake. Santa Clara is now way ahead of the game because it is expanding it's capabilities in its sports complex.

Posted by Eugene, a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2014 at 11:04 pm

@Bill and all others:
One good start to learning where our money has gone since 2000 when voters passed the first 1/2-cent sales tax for BART, Caltrain, VTA buses/light rail et al.: VTA's current fiscal year budget.
Prior budgets from VTA:
Web Link
Current (biennial) budget:
Web Link

Posted by Eugene, a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Correct link to VTA's current biennial (2014 & 2015) budget:
Web Link

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2014 at 5:42 am

Resident 1:

some feedback to consider:

The new Levis Stadium will take on all of the future stadium events. For example, the Pac12 championship, Super Bowl. Stanford Stadium will not have that many events in the future.

There are a bunch of express bus lines that run from the SF Caltrain station into and out of the Financial District. You don't need to walk or cab it. And there are plans to connect the central subway to Caltrain at the new station.

Warriors will be further south, not ATT parking lot. 3rd street rail line will serve arena and connect to Caltrain.

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