Original post made
on Aug 31, 2007
Penny Ellison, the public affairs director of the Greenmeadow neighborhood association, and Arthur Keller of the Planning and Transportation Commission seem to forget that the VTA serves the entire county ( and parts of San Mateo county) not just Palo Alto. Their new plan will provide improved service to the vast majority of the county. While i understand the attitudes of Ms Ellison and Mr Keller, that how dare the VTA make changes to transit that may effect Palo Alto (which based on their writings must be the center of the transit universe as far as the VTA is concerned), they need to realize that a great many people in Santa Clara county will benefit from these changes. the world no longer revolves around Palo Alto.
You are indeed right. Palo Alto is not the center of the universe. Actually the point is valid. Palo Alto is not at the center of the VTA system. It is on the northernmost fringe. Therefore, we get the fringe service. Some of our population travels north, not south, therefore we do not have the same percent ridership as communities further south. That means that our routes are bound to be less used than those in similar communities until they reach further south.
But, that does not mean that for those who use the services they are not as important. Route 88 is a lifeline for families with kids at Gunn and have no other way to get their kids to school. It isn't everyone who can drive their kids to and more importantly home from school at whatever time the kids schedules demand, even if they wanted to. Teenagers should be able to get themselves to and from school on their own without parent driving. They should be able to walk, ride bikes, or use public transport. This will turn them into independent commuters at an earlier age. They do not need to be mollycoddled by parents. Others also need this important route.
No, VTA should instead be promoting their service. The routes that are poorly used are obviously poorly advertised. When was the last time you saw any type of advertising to promote bus riding in the Palo Alto area? Even the advertising for the shuttle has stopped. The average bus stop has no information as to what routes are served, where the buses from this particular stop serve and end up, and what the schedule is. How is a newcomer or visitor supposed to find this information out. Going to the VTA website for the information is not always convenient for potential riders and the schedules are available in places like libraries, which potential riders may not have yet discovered either.
No, VTA should be spending money on doing a better job of getting the information out there. It is not up to potential riders to have to struggle to find this out. The local bus stops, convenience stores, schools, parks, should have information posted that newcomers and visitors can easily understand. Bus tickets should also be available locally so that passengers can buy their tickets in advance and then show them to the driver. This would also make the time a bus is stopped at a stop much less.
Communities with excellent public transport have these facilities, why don't we?
Resident--much of what you say is true--the VTA does a lousy job advertising. unfortunately we are a car culture out here and i do not think that public transportation will ever replace the car. Having grown up in NYC, I know what a great transportation system means--however our geographical layout is not conducive to that kind of system. Given it's tight funding VTA must put it's efforts into lines that attract many riders--the PA lines are not the only ones that are being cut.
The attitudes of Ellison and Keller seem to suggest that the VTA should make it's decisions based on what is good for Palo Alto only--that is wrong.
I can verify the truth in resident's statement above. Twice lately I was out walking and passed someone waiting for a bus, once on Middlefield and once on Louis, who asked me if I knew what time the next bus would be? Both people appeared to be irregular users who did not know where to go for the information. This happened in the last couple of weeks. I remember it happening before a long time ago when a man with very limited English asked me where the bus stop was and did it go to San Antonio?
It seems really bad if the only way to get this information is for potential bus riders to ask passers by!
Public transportation, including efficient coordination between public transportation agencies, is nothing short of pathetic in this region. It's an embarrassment, period.
As well, local policy makers - here and in other communities - have been EXCEEDINGLY WEAK in finding ways to improve our system.
I am so tired of one official (elected and otherwise) after another promoting "green this" and "green that", yet FAILING to MAKE intra-regional cooperation happen in a way that make it easy to use public transportation.
The whole thing is a short-sighted, lacking in strategical-and-tactical-execution, mess - and that's being kind.
I am an ardent environmentalist, but see virtually NOTHING being done in a very public way to counteract the ineffectual and unacceptable public transportation systems that we have today.
Above, someone said that "we are a car culture". That's true. Now, let's look at what that car culture has cost us. War. Massive pollution. *Inefficiencies* born of lost time and strategic proximity, and on, and on.
Our public ttransport, compared to the European Union, is PATHETIC.
There is no granmd strategy for ogetting people off the roads; there is no SERIOUS inter - or intra-regional effort being made to fix this. Instead, we have people sitting on transportation boards, being nice to one other, instead of doing the hard work of selling each other a cohesive, efficient, cheap, and easily accessible public transportion system that people WANT TO USE.
The last three words, above, are the key - i.e. "want to use". If we make that happen, we WILL get people out of their cars.
Along with this, we need SERIOUS rethinking about infill housing along transport corridors. Anyone running for City Council that doesn't favor this shoiuld be filtered out immediately as someone out of touch with the future.
Our housing patterns, general ignorance, and a LACK of political will has brought the situation we find ourselves in today - dependant on the automobile, and stuck in smog for literally weeks a year as we slog over freeways on the way to a job that supports a living standard that is quickly becoming unsustainable.
These comments need to be transferred to the newly started thread on route 88, being a letters thread, these points will get lost.
[Insert tongue firmly in cheek]
Let's just keep on with the trend of upwardly-spiraling pricey gentrification and accompanying removal of public services and amenities. We already progressively have no restrooms in most public parks, unlike such "plebian riff-raff" towns as Sunnyvale.
With more efforts like the VTA's laudable vote, Palo Alto can aspire to eventually become another Atherton, where a lack of even public sidewalks forces moms to push their strollers down the street, causing the usual bored and nosy too-much-time-on-their-idle-hands resident to file the inevitable police report about it.
And then maybe somehow we'll also all become magically able to afford nannies who can ferry our kids to local schools (if we still have those) while we can shuck our jobs, sleep in, and eat bonbons all day.