If Caltrain makes its proposed service changes, specifically the seven station closures and the nighttime service cuts, my household will no longer be able to ride Caltrain. This will not be a temporary change; it will be a life-altering adjustment. We will be forced to buy a second car and we will never have an opportunity to commute to our jobs by public transportation again.
I don't think MTA or the JPB realize the irreparable damage they will cause throughout the Bay Area if they enact these service cuts. These changes will not only kill ridership for Caltrain (easily 2/3 of its customer base will be affected by these cuts), but more seriously, they will disrupt people's lives: lives that Caltrain riders (and their communities) planned specifically for train transportation. I can say with complete confidence — and I know the MTA has to admit this itself — that if these cuts are made, Caltrain will be forced into bankruptcy, and the service will die — there is simply no turning back.
For Caltrain and its vital customer base alike, everything possible must be done to avoid enacting any of the proposed service cuts. The Bay Area cannot afford such a drastic, horrific step backward.
As a retired PAUSD teacher, I have previously commented on the issue of academic stress. I noted that for every parent who decries the emphasis on AP classes, there are others who demand more AP and honors classes. The insecurity of parents regarding the college-admission process makes it highly unlikely that district priorities will change unless prestigious colleges and universities stop emphasizing weighted GPAs, or PAUSD parents stop caring.
It might be possible for the PAUSD to limit the number of AP classes per year to two, forcing students to select subjects of greatest interest, and then inform academic institutions of the policy. The quality of instruction in "regular classes" is sufficiently high to meet university standards. What would be the response of these institutions? Has that been researched? Would that at least somewhat mitigate academic stress? Now Dr. Skelly and high school faculties are attempting to meet the academic demands of this community.
Would a change in emphasis be broadly supported? Clearly the schools must do more to work on emotional needs of struggling students whose families choose to live here. The Daubers' column hopefully will begin an honest debate on our community's values and perhaps compel universities to re-examine their own policies which "wag the dog."
Suzan B. Stewart
Dirty little secret
Palo Alto has a dirty little secret: We are one of the last two cities in California to incinerate our sewage sludge. Oh my. That sounds bad, doesn't it?
We pride ourselves on being environmental leaders. Palo Alto does have climate goals for specific reductions in energy, water and waste and for renewable energy targets that track California's. That's a good thing.
When it comes to sewage sludge incineration, it turns out we are big-time environmental stragglers. (Our incinerator's emissions equal those of about 1,250 cars.) How would we like that on a billboard on 101?
Meanwhile, there is a lot of back and forth about the merits of repurposing 10 of 126 acres of what is slated to become Byxbee Park for a facility to handle our organic waste, including sewage sludge (a.k.a. "biosolids"); whether the higher use is park vs. waste management; and the pros and cons of various technologies. There is much to study and learn.
But right now, as Palo Alto voters, we need to decide whether we want the opportunity to vote this November to have the option of using up to 10 acres next to the wastewater treatment plant for something other than parkland. That's it. It's about having options.
Bottom line, we need to close the gap between our climate goals and our backward resource systems. By signing the petition before March 15 to allow a vote in November, each of us can take a key step toward closing that gap.
Lisa Van Dusen