News

Survey sheds light on downtown Palo Alto drivers

Data show most commuters come from South Bay and Peninsula while San Franciscans prefer Caltrain

They drive alone and show up in droves -- that much is clear.

But who are these non-carpooling commuters? Where do they come from? And, most importantly, what can the city do to get them to switch from cars to other forms of transportation?

These questions have for years mystified the City Council, which has spent more time discussing parking and traffic than just about any other topic over the past two years. And now, at last, the city has some answers.

The Palo Alto Transportation Management Association (TMA), the city's recently formed traffic-fighting nonprofit, commissioned a detailed survey of downtown commuters. The consulting firm EMC surveyed 1,173 people in the downtown area, including employees of small-, medium- and large-sized companies. Each was asked a list of questions about city of origin, commute patterns and attitudes about biking, transit and other transportation options.

The survey, which was conducted in May, revealed that about 55 percent of people drive by themselves into downtown Palo Alto. The largest share of commuters, 33 percent, come here from the South Bay. They were followed by drivers from the Peninsula (20 percent) and from other parts of Palo Alto (also 20 percent). A minority came from San Francisco (10 percent) and the East Bay (7 percent).

One of the survey's most striking findings is South Bay and East Bay commuters are far more likely to drive alone to Palo Alto than their counterparts from San Francisco. Only 18 percent of commuters from San Francisco drive alone, according to the survey. This is compared to 76 percent of commuters from East Bay, 65 percent of commuters from South Bay and 63 percent of commuters from the Peninsula. Of those who live in Palo Alto, 41 percent drive alone to work while 48 percent either walk or bike.

The survey also showed that part-time workers are far more likely to drive alone than full-timers and that employees of large businesses are less likely to drive alone than employees of medium-sized businesses and small ones. Of the workers with one full-time job, 53 percent drive alone, while those with one part-time job have a rate of 75 percent.

The survey also indicated that coders are much less likely to drive than chefs, hotel workers, shopkeepers or just about any other type of downtown employees. And the gap is wide, with tech workers making up 39 percent of survey respondents (hospitality was a distant second with 16 percent).

Yet only 33 percent of tech workers indicated that they drive alone, while 31 percent take Caltrain and 26 percent walk or bike. The drive-alone rate for those in retail is 78 percent; in hospitality it's 73 percent; and in the restaurant sector it's 72 percent.

The survey's conclusion about tech workers eschewing their cars is largely consistent with the data collected earlier this year by downtown tech companies Palantir, SurveyMonkey and RealIQ. The three companies surveyed their employees and determined that only 38 percent drive alone.

"Mode share is obviously highly dependent on where the respondent is traveling from," the survey from the three firms concluded. "Individual car share is very high in places with poor Caltrain access. Proximity to work (which allows for walking and biking) and access to Caltrain are two major factors in determining mode share."

When it comes to Caltrain, San Francisco's commuters are far ahead of the pack. The survey showed 70 percent of them rely on Caltrain to get to work, compared to just 20 percent of South Bay residents and 16 percent of those who come from other Peninsula cities.

In general, those with the most distance to cover were shown to be more likely to depend on transit. Of the commuters with trips longer than 50 miles, 38 percent reported driving alone while 40 percent rely on Caltrain. Those with shorter trips, between 10 and 50 miles, generally favor cars over trains and buses. The survey showed that 69 percent of them drive alone, while 19 percent take Caltrain.

The survey results are already influencing Palo Alto's debate about traffic and parking. On Monday night, the council had a long discussion about transportation projects that they'd like to see funded in the coming years.

The study's findings about the high number of people who commute from South Bay to Palo Alto were cited by council members who argued that the city should demand more money for transit services from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which is now moving ahead with a plan to put a transportation measure on the November 2016 ballot.

The new data is also expected to affect the wave of parking and transportation initiatives that the city is preparing to launch. These include the parking-permit program in downtown's residential neighborhoods, valet programs in downtown garages, Caltrain passes for City Hall employees, and the expansion of the city's small shuttle system.

Jessica Sullivan, the city's transportation planning manager, called the survey "pretty significant" in giving the city insight into the travel habits of downtown employees. Results will be used by the city to consider the best strategies to use in supporting employees going downtown. They data will come in particularly handy in the next few months, as the TMA begins unveiling pilot programs aimed at getting drivers out of cars (incidentally, 49 percent of those who drive alone appear be open to this idea, according to the survey).

Sullivan said the city is also launching an effort to develop a five-year plan for the shuttle system. The study will take a look at who the shuttles are serving and what the coverage gaps are.

"Our idea is to make the shuttle a really important part of the mobile services here in Palo Alto," Sullivan said.

The new data won plaudits from the council, with Tom DuBois saying it "gives us a good blueprint" for action. He noted that the survey shows, among other things, that tech workers aren't the problem when it comes to commuting behavior.

"We need to apply this data and have a more sophisticated discussion about parking," he said.

Councilman Marc Berman also said he was fascinated by finding that only a third of downtown's tech workers drive alone. Their mode share (31 percent took Caltrain and 21 percent walked or biked) exceeded his expectations, Berman said.

"But restaurants, retail and hospitality -- those are areas where we can really make a lot of gains," Berman said.

The council's discussion came just weeks before the expected launch of downtown's long-awaited Residential Preferential Program, which will institute a time limit for parking in residential neighborhoods for cars without a permit. The city began selling permits over the weekend and as of Monday afternoon, had sold about 400 on its website. Enforcement of the program will begin on Sept. 15 and planning officials will spend six months monitoring the program and gathering data before revising the program based on the data collected.

Though it remains to be seen whether the program will succeed in relieving downtown's parking problem, council members were ecstatic on Monday about just getting to the starting line. Berman noted during the discussion that the council's work to date consisted of approving policies and going through planning phases.

"Now is the most exciting time," Berman said. "It's execution time."

Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Mystified
a resident of University South
on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Maybe next time our council will get the data before they act. It sounds like they were wrong about who causes traffic, which means the solution will be wrong, too.


19 people like this
Posted by kids?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Perhaps coders are more likely to be unmarried and childless than those in retail. Those who need to transport kids to or from school/childcare are more likely to drive alone.


14 people like this
Posted by need more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:49 pm

If tech workers comprise a higher percentage of the work force Downtown,
packed in at 4-6/1000 sq ft or more then even though they commute SOV less they may contribute more vehicle trips. We need to know what percentage of the workforce is tech vs the other categories, and the trend of that data to understand the problem and how to deal with it. If the survey doesn't
present that data the study is incomplete and poorly designed.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Did anyone else notice that there are a large percentage of drivers who are part time workers? This means that they are not going to be buying permits for garages as they are only here part time. This means that they want to park for longer than 3 hours on a part time (occasional) basis.

There is very little scope for part time workers to park more than 3 hours at a time in Palo Alto.

This proves we need pay per hour machines at each garage and each lot. Otherwise, these workers will pay in Caltrain lots, or in residential areas.

QED.


26 people like this
Posted by Downtown Worker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:55 pm

@need more: The tech workers aren't "packed in at 4-6/1000 sq ft or more". The TMA survey doesn't answer density (the business registry is supposed to when every company has reported in), but the SurveyMonkey/Palantir/RelateIQ survey says that their employees are at 4.4 per 1000 sq ft.

If tech workers are at 4.4 per 1000 sq ft, and only 33% drive, then you only need 1.5 parking spaces per 1000 sq ft, not 4 parking spaces per 1000 sq ft as today's zoning dictates. That's why, even though Lytton Gateway got a break on building parking, SurveyMonkey uses fewer parking spots than the developer of Lytton Gateway paid for.

According to the business registry, SurveyMonkey only uses 12 permits even though the Weekly reported that the developer paid $1.5m in fees for 25 garage spots. The company offers free parking permits for workers, so there's no reason their workers would park in the overcrowded neighborhoods when they could get a reliable garage spot for free.

The parking problems didn't happen because new office developments were "underparked" and they overflowed. They happened because downtown Palo Alto had a restaurant boom and the garages don't support parking for shift workers. RPP is a good idea anyway, but we either need to accommodate low-income workers in the garages or help them afford public transit.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:54 pm

@Downtown Worker
611 Cowper under construction is 50+ spaces underparked through bonuses, TDR's and grandfathered conditions and is not in the Downtown Parking
Assessment District. 524 Hamilton down the street is not in the
Assessment District. At 537 Hamilton across the street there are mechanical
parking lifts. Only twice have I ever seen a car enter or exit that garage.
Is the garage being used? Are the mechanical lifts being used or being
avoided or unattended? As far as the employee density of tech offices,
Palantir and SurveyMonkey are probably not representative of the spectrum of
tech offices Downtown. Simple observation seems to bear that out.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:59 pm

>> "Of the commuters with trips longer than 50 miles, 38 percent reported driving alone while 40 percent rely on Caltrain."

Caltrain doesn't go 50 miles from here. I guess those Caltrain riders must be connecting to Caltrain from other modes like bus or ACE or BART or driving to count extra miles. Or does 50 miles mean round-trip? What a rat-race.


2 people like this
Posted by need more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:38 pm

Sorry- Inadvertently entered this initially under wrong name as "resident"
@Downtown Worker
611 Cowper under construction is 50+ spaces underparked through bonuses,
TDR's and grandfathered conditions,and is not in the Downtown Parking
Asssessment District. 524 Hamilton down the street is not in the Assessment
District. At 537 Hamilton across the street there are mechanical parking lifts. Only twice have I ever seen a car enter or exit that garage. Is the
garage being used? Are the mechanical lifts being used or being avoided or unattended? As far as the employee density of tech offices, Palantir and
SurveyMonkey are probably not representative of the spectrum of tech offices
Downtown. Simple observation seems to bear that out.


24 people like this
Posted by Friends and Neighbors
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:06 am

Perhaps these single car commutwrs, some of whom come from 50+ miles away, do not have friends or neighbors going in the same direction to drive with. Perhaps they have already dropped off their co-rider(s).

Commuting long distances means rising from sleep at the crack of dawn or before, arriving home long after dark. They may not want to be slowed down by dropping off various people in different locations. Or, no one else in their area rises that early. Also, working long hours ( required by tech employers) makes it very difficult to carpool with ANYONE!

There are lots and lots of reasons to go solo.


10 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:12 am

The amount of time saved driving solo (vs public transit) over great distances is significant. Add in that most tech oriented jobs require flexible hours in terms of when you go home...public transit is not the most time efficient way to get home to places like Livermore, etc.


18 people like this
Posted by need more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:56 am

The reality is that we have no integrated rail/bus transportation system
as exists in Europe. The lack of infrastructure spending here over the
last 50+ years is showing up and putting us into a disastrous crisis situation which cannot be solved on the margin while land use policy
ignores this reality. There has been a massive failure of government
at the Federal/State/local level.



17 people like this
Posted by East bay commuter
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:27 am

I commuted to Palo Alto for a part time job for years and using public transportation was out of the question. Not just because there isn't a viable option coming from the east bay but because it is unreliable if you're driving from one job to the next (many part time workers have multiple jobs). I would have loved to sit on a train or bus for my commute but it was always faster driving myself than waiting for the next transbay bus then taking Bart. Part time workers just don't have that time. If more Palo alto businesses hired full time instead of all these part time positions, i'm sure that would help but for example the city will hire three separate part time positions (8-12 hrs/week) instead of one full time position so they don't have to pay benefits. Who is really causing this problem then? Not the people trying to make a living.


9 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:31 am

Marie is a registered user.

Mass transit does not work for people who don't work between 8 and six. Caltrain runs just once an hour. #22 becomes Hotel 22 (the name of a documentary this year at the Sundance Film festival about the homeless who use VTA #22 as a place to sleep: Web Link

Shift workers whose hours do not fall within those hours have very little choice but to drive. So it is not surprising that many of those in the restaurant business drive solo.

Given the shortage of parking spaces today, and the multiplicity of ways, including joining the TDM, to reduce the number of spaces required by zoning, the current requirements should not be reduced. If anything, they should be increased until the problem of parking in residential areas is solved.

Of course, the city can always start charging for all parking, and completely kill retail downtown.


19 people like this
Posted by Friends and Neighbors
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:38 am

CrescentParkDad is right. My brother recently stopped using CalTrain to commute from his home in SJ to his job in SF. His commute went down from four hours each way to two hours each way--a 50% saving of time and a 30% increase in sleep time.

However, he does commute with a coworker.


27 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2015 at 9:53 am

More than anything else, I think this survey shows us where we need to improve the public transportation network. Public transit is generally good along the Caltrain line from San Francisco to Palo Alto to San Jose, at least during rush hour. Along the I-280 corridor or across the bay, public transit to Palo Alto is really terrible. We can't just keep building parking lots and wider roads. Palo Alto needs to work with VTA and Caltrain to improve public transit access to Palo Alto, both in terms of schedule and in terms of routes.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 10:11 am

Interesting survey data. Next question is to sort out who's at the restaurants. It may be that office growth is causing greater restaurant demand and indirectly causing the neighborhood parking problem. Perhaps the answer is for more offices to self-cater and reduce daytime demand for restaurants.


19 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

It makes zero business sense to chase away restaurant patrons. Do people not dine out in Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong because it's hard to find parking? Moreover, restaurants generate sales tax revenue.

Ultimately, the solution is to invest in infrastructure so people here in the SF Bay Area can get to where they need to go, hopefully using public transit.


12 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:46 am

One of the reasons restaurant workers may drive alone and not use public transportation is that their hours tend to go quite late into the night when public transportation is not readily available at any reasonable frequency.


8 people like this
Posted by Longtime local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

We need frequent, safe, reliable - and frankly, smaller like Margeurite - shuttles from one end of Palo Alto to the other so that people working across town can get around easily without a car. We have pretty well stopped going downtown to dine because of traffic and parking, but would take a shuttle.

Lived in the East Bay and commuted here - would have preferred transit but nothing was geared to make that trip fast and direct. When it was necessary to take public transit, it usually meant 5 hours total in transit per day, which was untenable. The biggest problems were systems issues, poor connections, too many transfers to different forms of poorly coordinated transit, etc. sadly, those problems seem to be perpetually unaddressed in Bay Area transit and regional planning. No surprise that people from the East Bay take cars whereas those who can take Caltrain dont.


16 people like this
Posted by Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Survey weenies love percentages. Percentages convey the impression of a high tech analysis to the non-technical reader, which are greatly in the majority.

They can be useful if properly interpreted. They can also obfuscate important facts. In this case the raw numbers are the real story. But we ain't got 'em.

Real cars need to be parked, not some percentage. An actual number of parking spaces are needed, not a percentage of, um. It's the NUMBER of solid metal cars clogging ECR, Middlefield, Page Mill/Oregon, Arastradero, Serra, Sand Hill, ... which determines the required road capacity, not some quotient multiplied by 100 (aka percentage).

Let's hope our policymakers can comprehend this, and that the survey's analysts have not trashed the actual data needed for intelligent, beneficial decisions.


18 people like this
Posted by Well-Travelled
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:21 pm

I have lived, worked, or vacationed in several countries.

What experience has shown me is that mass transit often runs in the red, even in highly populated areas. HSR is even worse for this ( look at the TGV).

The only places I have seen mass transit work are Paris, London, Munich, Zurich, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and NYC: in other wards, super-high-density megalopolises, too expensive for all but the wealthiest to live in and too congested to even walk on the sidewalks.


17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm

@Well-Travelled - highways, street parking (even with parking meters), and city-owned parking lots all run in the red, too. The recent Hwy 101 widening in Palo Alto cost $100 MILLION. A new parking garage downtown will cost $50 MILLION or more. None of this money comes from gas taxes. Are you advocating ending these handouts to car drivers?


9 people like this
Posted by TrainCommuter
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm

How do we explain that traffic increases several times when schools start? It appears is not only tech commuters to blame...


2 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Aug 19, 2015 at 3:27 pm

TrainCommuter, "How do we explain that traffic increases several times when schools start?"

People with kids are back from vacation. You also see a drop in traffic when schools let out for the summer.


8 people like this
Posted by OldAlum
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm

City Council, Don't worry, I will reduce your traffic by never driving downtown again. Your merchants may not like that but who cares about them. Clearly not you.


2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:13 pm

SF restaurants are able to staff without making parking concessions. If local sales tax revenue doesn't pay for parking then we're subsidizing visitor meals by making Professorville and DTN less pleasant to live in. Does anyone who's not a landlord think this is a good tradeoff?


11 people like this
Posted by Well-Travelled
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:28 pm

@resident: please understand that with the exception of Hong Kong, most of the rest of the world is taxed within an inch of heir lives to pay for mass transit. And in all but the most huge cities, it still runs in the red!


Like this comment
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:12 am

"The reality is that we have no integrated rail/bus transportation system as exists in Europe. The lack of infrastructure spending here over the 50+ years is showing up and putting us into a disastrous crisis situation which cannot be solved on the margin while land use policy ignores this reality."
There are many reasons that people do not take Caltrain to SF or SJ: 1. SF Caltrain station location is too far from where people want to go--it's in the middle of a wholesale district that is scary at night. 2. Caltrain is too slow. It took me 45 minutes to go from my house to my office at SJSU if I drove, 2 hours at least if I took public transit. 3. Caltrain does not run often enough, especially during off peak hours.
Compare this with the NY metropolitan area: 1. Trains from various areas around NYC run all night and frequently to NYC and reverse. They end in either Grand Central Terminal, a beautiful place in the middle of Manhattan and from which one can easily get a subway, bus, or taxi at any hour, or Penn Station, also in a busy area but less beautiful. 2. Subways in NYC run all night and run every minute or two during commute hours slightly less often during off peak, but continue all night. 3. Busses are also available into the late evening. They also run frequently, but less reliably than subways or trains to areas outside NYC.
Here there is no good cross bay public transit. The one Dumbarton Express does not connect to the Amtrak station in the East Bay. We need a good rail system across the Bay in the area of Dumbarton Bridge that connects Caltrain stations on each side of the Bay.
Unless you live on El Camino Real or within 1 block of the Caltrain station the local busses are useless for local residents to use when they want to shop for groceries or go out to a movie and lunch. The Palo Alto Shuttle does not serve neighborhoods west of El CAmino. Actually Stanford's Marguerite is more useful for us, but still not truly convenient. The Marguerite busses are also much nicer--better drivers, cleaner, smaller so they block other traffic less. Why do we run double busses for VTA during off peak hours, all they do is clog traffic on El Camino? Often there are at most 5-10 people of these busses.
We have a traffic problem because this area and CA as a whole has neglected its infrastructure for too long--at least 40 years in my memory. Compare France's TGV with Amtrak's Coast Starlight or any other nearby Amtrak route. Often you must take a bus for part of the route. Even Amtrak on the East coast, NYC to DC is far better, but no comparison to TGV. I haven't tried trains in other countries.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 9:36 am

Public transit should be geared towards commuters, rather than for shopping, recreation or medical appointments.

Public transit generally works for those who use it on a regular basis not an occasional basis.

For this reason, we should be looking at first/last mile, students (including children) and those that generally travel in regular commute hours as being those that will be served primarily. If we could get those people using commute transit options, we would be starting well. Unfortunately, our transit doesn't serve those with regular commutes well. If those people are not being served well, it doesn't bode well for those who work non regular hours, or occasional users.

Piecemeal solutions are not the way to go. Let's get commuters helped first, and then remember that no city is an island and all these various agencies are causing lots of headaches for regular commuters.

As an example, why should a Caltrain user from Palo Alto to Redwood City have to pay for two zones, but not a Sunnyvale to Palo Alto user?


Like this comment
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:03 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

The survey showed only 7% of commuters come to Palo Alto from the east bay. Why would we sink hundreds of millions of dollars on a dumbarton train that will be used by very few people? Let's complete BART to San Jose and get companies to locate more jobs in south county. San Jose has the housing, let's get them the jobs too


9 people like this
Posted by Survey Hater
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:23 am

Guy_Fawkes: Please re-read the writing of Engineer, above^^^^^^^**


Like this comment
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:34 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

Survey Hater

The NUMBER of commuters from East Bay is also pretty low relative to the other areas - SF, South Bay, Peninsula. We have so many transportation challenges, lets spend our limited funds to do the greatest good


Like this comment
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 20, 2015 at 11:52 am

"More than anything else, I think this survey shows us where we need to improve the public transportation network."

Forget that. Won't happen anytime soon, if ever. $$$$$$$$$$, you know.


2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 20, 2015 at 10:47 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Back in the 1970s the plan was TO MAKE BART A COMPLETE CIRCLE THAT CONNECTED ALL THE CITES IN THE WHOLE SFBA. THAT IS WHAT THE " BART TAX " WAS LEVIED FOR! I paid my dues, knowing that SP could dump the job of moving passengers up and down the Peninsula. The RICH living in Menlo Park and Atherton made their money talk; NO BART IN OUR BACKYARD, the ultimate NIMBYS that created the word NIMBY.
Yes, that stopped the idea of the complete loop and started the " screw the general public " attitude of transit for the Peninsula. What should have happened is the proper use of " eminent domain " to seize the SP ROW to complete the loop FORTY YEARS AGO. ONE AGENCY HANDLING ALL THE SFBA COMMUTE ISSUES with the co-operation of Regional bus transit agencies.
Now you are just starting a link to San Jose? The cost will be that much more expensive now, which is to be expected for all the " head in the sand " people that didn't even EXIST forty years ago!
Think of what COULD HAVE BEEN IF THE BART LOOP WAS FINISHED. The SFBA WOULD have a transit system that could have ranked among the best in the world. Instead of that you got conned people! The shakedown artists are trying to raid your pocketbooks for more empty trains that go nowhere.
What MUST be done is to bite the bullet, swallow hard and admit the " intellectuals " in the SFBA got conned into paying into a system that is " half fast " at best.

You really want to get people to ride Mass Transit? Look at what RTD ( BUSES ) and RTD Light Rail has done to get people out of their cars when employed in the Downtown Business District. Get Mass Transit to have the RAILROAD UNION STATION become the traffic hub; Did you know that you can take the train to the West or East Coast from that hub? The Light Rail Connection to DIA makes it possible to board aircraft like the BART stop does with SFO!
Unless the VTA builds along the SP right of way, the VTA is still out to con people again. No VTA trains should just reverse directions in Mtn. View. They should stop at least at a Palo Alto endpoint. With help from the neighbor county, VTA could even go farther up the SP ( now Caltrain ) ROW
to Redwood City and ignore the NIMBY's who killed BART RAPID TRANSIT in the first place!

Admit your FORTY YEAR OLD FAILURE to make the BART LOOP. Then get to work to make it happen. Merge or let BART take over the VTA. Quit drilling holes in the keel of the transit solution boat to " let the water out ". Admitting the problem is half the battle. Solving the problem is the other half.


1 person likes this
Posted by stanhutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2015 at 8:01 pm

stanhutchings is a registered user.

I've traveled quite a bit in other countries, especially Japan. The train system connects outlying areas to central downtowns on a very frequent schedule, increasing during rush hours and decreasing during off-hours. Usually people don't even worry about the schedule - another train will be along in a few minutes. The trains run on schedule 99% of the time, so you know how long your trip will take. Also the trains run on multiple levels, from far underground to aerial tracks above the cities.
When I worked near Moffett field, I had a company-issued free VTA pass. But I found biking was faster by at least 20 minutes! And I did not have to worry about transfer VTA to bus. Caltrain would have been almost as fast as biking, but the schedule meant I had to leave work at a specific time to get to the station, first by bus to arrive before the train. Still longer than biking. By car was usually faster, but much more stressful with all the me-first drivers. As I see it, autonomous point-to-point vehicles will supersede people driving, and the safety, efficiency and cost will improve without needing to add lanes. Just use the existing infrastructure more efficiently.


11 people like this
Posted by Well-Travelled
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2015 at 8:59 am

This is true, Stan, and equally true of NYCand buses. However, both places are extremely densely populated.

Literally, if everyone in CA moved to Palo Alto, that would approximate the population of Tokyo. If everyone in the US moved to CA, that would approximate the population of Japan ( at least Honshu Island ).

Such transportation solutions are only viable and profitable in such dense populations ( ever watch Japanese conductors forcibly push people onto trains, so that they are squeezed into each car like sardines? ).

We lived in Tokyo for three years--it was miserable!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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