News

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority seeks to reassure critics of bus-only lanes

Transit agency prepares to make decision on controversial Bus Rapid Transit proposal

With plans for a greatly expanded bus service on El Camino Real speeding toward a decision, several cities along the prominent corridor remain skeptical about the most dramatic proposal on the table: the creation of "bus-only" lanes between Palo Alto and San Jose.

To reassure the critics and add credence to its own analysis of what is known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) on Tuesday released a new independent review that the agency said largely validates the analysis in its draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The transit agency's analysis concluded that the "dedicated-lanes" proposal would significantly reduce the amount of time it would take for its 522 bus to travel from Palo Alto to San Jose: dropping it from the current level of 85 minutes to 48 minutes. A less extreme alternative known as "mixed flow" -- having the new buses share the right lane with cars -- would drop the travel time to 81 minutes, the analysis found.

The review by a specially appointed steering committee took some issues with the methodology, particularly when it comes to the VTA's traffic-diversion analysis, and the way the information was presented to the public. But by and large, the committee supported the findings of the analysis and concluded that the agency's draft EIR "adequately discloses the project's expected environmental impacts and presents evidence sufficient for the relevant bodies to make an informed recommendation for a preferred alternative as required by relevant regulations."

At a media briefing Tuesday, officials from the VTA, which is implementing the project, touted the committee's review, which they said basically confirms the agency's own analysis and its conclusion that creating dedicated bus-only lanes on El Camino would greatly improve transit without causing the type of traffic havoc many fear.

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"We're pleased to know that the analysis is complete and that the board now has a complete, comprehensive and accurate report," said John Ristow, the VTA's director of planning and program development.

The analysis showed that the travel time for cars would only go up from 40 minutes to 43.7 minutes as some drivers switch to other modes of transportation or find new routes to take.

During a media briefing Tuesday morning, Ristow said the agency knew that the dedicated-lanes proposal would get the most attention along the corridor, which is why it commissioned the additional review. The review, he said, "actually validated our work on the project and in terms of its completeness, its accuracy and the results of everything we put in the EIR, with that long extensive analysis."

Even so, the findings are unlikely to calm Peninsula anxieties about reducing driving lanes on El Camino. Ristow said that when it comes to traffic congestion, the BRT project will have a "fairly minor and moderate impact." The region is lucky, he said, in that it has a "very rich, highly connective and very good roadway network," which offers "lots of route choices and lots of capacity."

"What we found is that traffic just disperses so much that there's very little impact on the other roadways," Ristow said.

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Yet in Palo Alto, where the main alternative to El Camino is Alma Street, choices for drivers remain scarce. And with Alma already congested during peak commuter hours and with Caltrain service set to increase in the coming years, adding to the traffic jams at grade crossings, the VTA's own analysis paints a dire picture of future traffic levels at several key intersections.

Many would be at a virtual standstill on Alma even without the BRT project, though the reduction of El Camino lanes would undoubtedly make things worse. On one particularly congested intersection, at Alma and Loma Verde Avenue, the waiting time is expected to go up from 155.3 seconds under the "no project" alternative in the morning peak period to 321.5 seconds if the dedicated-lanes proposal is adopted. During the peak evening hours, the delay at this intersection would be 129.7 seconds under the "no build" scenario and 262.2 seconds under the dedicated-lanes proposal, according to the EIR.

At Alma and Kingsley, the delay would go up from a projected level of 65.7 seconds in 2018, if no project is implemented, to 375.5 seconds (six and a quarter minutes) under the dedicated-lanes plan during the peak evening commuting hours, according to the EIR.

Congestion is also slated to become worse on the central intersection of El Camino and Page Mill Road, where the delay would go up from 63.2 seconds in the "no build" scenario to 82.7 seconds under the dedicated-lanes proposal. By contrast, the other design alternatives currently on the table, including the mixed-flow approach, would barely make a dent in intersection delays at El Camino and Page Mill, according to the analysis. In all scenarios not involving dedicated lanes, the intersection delays are expected to be less than 64 seconds.

Ristow said the agency is aware that in Palo Alto the level of connectivity is reduced because of the Stanford University campus just west of El Camino. He also noted that Alma is among the smallest parallel routes along the El Camino corridor. That recognition has done little to placate city officials, which earlier this year submitted a letter noting that the VTA's absence of solutions for fixing the impacts on Alma "particularly troubling."

These concerns notwithstanding, Palo Alto may not have much of a say in the VTA's decision about what the BRT will look like. That decision will be made by the VTA Board of Directors, which is dominated by representatives from the southern part of the county and which, according to Ristow, is expected to take up the project and select an alternative in December or January.

Ristow noted that cities do have some say in the process. The VTA has formed a policy advisory committee that includes local officials from cities throughout the county, including Palo Alto (Councilman Cory Wolbach is the local representative). But that group, as the name suggests, serves only in an advisory role. The ultimate decision about what El Camino will look like in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos will be made by the VTA board, whose 17 members include six representatives from San Jose and none from Palo Alto or Mountain View.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who serves on the policy advisory group, said Monday night that he was concerned about the effect that the VTA's drive toward the bus program might have on the agency's proposed transportation-tax measure in November 2016.

The measure, which involves a half-cent sales tax increase, is expected to raise roughly $6 billion for various transportation improvements, including the completion of BART's extension to San Jose and upgrades to Caltrain. It will, however, require support from two-thirds of the county's voters, including residents of north county.

"My worry is that the continued push for the BRT and dedicated lanes will alienate potential supporters for the transportation tax," Simitian said Monday. "I don't think the VTA staff is as sensitive to that possibility as they could or should be."

Of the four north county cities that lie along El Camino, only Mountain View's City Council voted to support the project. That vote came by a bare majority, with only three members voting for it and two voting against it (two other council members recused themselves from the discussion).

Palo Alto has also been skeptical, given the potential effect of dedicated lanes on lost parking spaces and increased congestion.

In a joint meeting with the Palo Alto City Council on Monday night, Simitian said that he has urged the agency to first complete a separate BRT project, which is currently under way between Santa Clara and Alum Rock, and then see how it works before proceeding to El Camino.

The public, he said, needs to better understand the modeling and data used by the VTA so that it can be assured that the El Camino project does not become a "significant boondoggle."

"I think it would be unwise to push ahead, and I think not only would that be unwise for net result for BRT, I think it has the potential to take $6 billion of congestion relief and shove it aside if you have a group of folks unhappy with VTA's decision-making process," Simitian said.

VTA officials estimate that the dedicate-lane proposal would cost about $233 million. Some of the funding would come from Measure A, a tax that was passed in 2000. The agency also hopes to tap into federal funds through the Small Starts program administered by the Federal Transit Administration.

The VTA board of directors is scheduled to review in December or January the seven alternatives evaluated in the EIR, a list that includes dedicated lanes, a mixed-flow scenarios and several designs that combine the two. The board will then have the option of selecting one of these alternatives or direct staff to evaluate other options.

Ristow said he expects the project to take about three to five years to implement. He noted that VTA has heard "mixed views" from local policy makers about the proposal, as befitting a project that would bring "dramatic change" to the corridor. Some in the north county remain unconvinced. Yet Ristow also observed that some of the very same cities have said that they are "looking for more innovative and new transit ideas for their communities."

"That's exactly what this project does," Ristow said.

Related content:

Palo Alto officials protest rapid-bus plan

Plan for dedicated bus lanes on El Camino Real back on the table

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Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority seeks to reassure critics of bus-only lanes

Transit agency prepares to make decision on controversial Bus Rapid Transit proposal

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 4:02 pm

With plans for a greatly expanded bus service on El Camino Real speeding toward a decision, several cities along the prominent corridor remain skeptical about the most dramatic proposal on the table: the creation of "bus-only" lanes between Palo Alto and San Jose.

To reassure the critics and add credence to its own analysis of what is known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) on Tuesday released a new independent review that the agency said largely validates the analysis in its draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The transit agency's analysis concluded that the "dedicated-lanes" proposal would significantly reduce the amount of time it would take for its 522 bus to travel from Palo Alto to San Jose: dropping it from the current level of 85 minutes to 48 minutes. A less extreme alternative known as "mixed flow" -- having the new buses share the right lane with cars -- would drop the travel time to 81 minutes, the analysis found.

The review by a specially appointed steering committee took some issues with the methodology, particularly when it comes to the VTA's traffic-diversion analysis, and the way the information was presented to the public. But by and large, the committee supported the findings of the analysis and concluded that the agency's draft EIR "adequately discloses the project's expected environmental impacts and presents evidence sufficient for the relevant bodies to make an informed recommendation for a preferred alternative as required by relevant regulations."

At a media briefing Tuesday, officials from the VTA, which is implementing the project, touted the committee's review, which they said basically confirms the agency's own analysis and its conclusion that creating dedicated bus-only lanes on El Camino would greatly improve transit without causing the type of traffic havoc many fear.

"We're pleased to know that the analysis is complete and that the board now has a complete, comprehensive and accurate report," said John Ristow, the VTA's director of planning and program development.

The analysis showed that the travel time for cars would only go up from 40 minutes to 43.7 minutes as some drivers switch to other modes of transportation or find new routes to take.

During a media briefing Tuesday morning, Ristow said the agency knew that the dedicated-lanes proposal would get the most attention along the corridor, which is why it commissioned the additional review. The review, he said, "actually validated our work on the project and in terms of its completeness, its accuracy and the results of everything we put in the EIR, with that long extensive analysis."

Even so, the findings are unlikely to calm Peninsula anxieties about reducing driving lanes on El Camino. Ristow said that when it comes to traffic congestion, the BRT project will have a "fairly minor and moderate impact." The region is lucky, he said, in that it has a "very rich, highly connective and very good roadway network," which offers "lots of route choices and lots of capacity."

"What we found is that traffic just disperses so much that there's very little impact on the other roadways," Ristow said.

Yet in Palo Alto, where the main alternative to El Camino is Alma Street, choices for drivers remain scarce. And with Alma already congested during peak commuter hours and with Caltrain service set to increase in the coming years, adding to the traffic jams at grade crossings, the VTA's own analysis paints a dire picture of future traffic levels at several key intersections.

Many would be at a virtual standstill on Alma even without the BRT project, though the reduction of El Camino lanes would undoubtedly make things worse. On one particularly congested intersection, at Alma and Loma Verde Avenue, the waiting time is expected to go up from 155.3 seconds under the "no project" alternative in the morning peak period to 321.5 seconds if the dedicated-lanes proposal is adopted. During the peak evening hours, the delay at this intersection would be 129.7 seconds under the "no build" scenario and 262.2 seconds under the dedicated-lanes proposal, according to the EIR.

At Alma and Kingsley, the delay would go up from a projected level of 65.7 seconds in 2018, if no project is implemented, to 375.5 seconds (six and a quarter minutes) under the dedicated-lanes plan during the peak evening commuting hours, according to the EIR.

Congestion is also slated to become worse on the central intersection of El Camino and Page Mill Road, where the delay would go up from 63.2 seconds in the "no build" scenario to 82.7 seconds under the dedicated-lanes proposal. By contrast, the other design alternatives currently on the table, including the mixed-flow approach, would barely make a dent in intersection delays at El Camino and Page Mill, according to the analysis. In all scenarios not involving dedicated lanes, the intersection delays are expected to be less than 64 seconds.

Ristow said the agency is aware that in Palo Alto the level of connectivity is reduced because of the Stanford University campus just west of El Camino. He also noted that Alma is among the smallest parallel routes along the El Camino corridor. That recognition has done little to placate city officials, which earlier this year submitted a letter noting that the VTA's absence of solutions for fixing the impacts on Alma "particularly troubling."

These concerns notwithstanding, Palo Alto may not have much of a say in the VTA's decision about what the BRT will look like. That decision will be made by the VTA Board of Directors, which is dominated by representatives from the southern part of the county and which, according to Ristow, is expected to take up the project and select an alternative in December or January.

Ristow noted that cities do have some say in the process. The VTA has formed a policy advisory committee that includes local officials from cities throughout the county, including Palo Alto (Councilman Cory Wolbach is the local representative). But that group, as the name suggests, serves only in an advisory role. The ultimate decision about what El Camino will look like in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos will be made by the VTA board, whose 17 members include six representatives from San Jose and none from Palo Alto or Mountain View.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who serves on the policy advisory group, said Monday night that he was concerned about the effect that the VTA's drive toward the bus program might have on the agency's proposed transportation-tax measure in November 2016.

The measure, which involves a half-cent sales tax increase, is expected to raise roughly $6 billion for various transportation improvements, including the completion of BART's extension to San Jose and upgrades to Caltrain. It will, however, require support from two-thirds of the county's voters, including residents of north county.

"My worry is that the continued push for the BRT and dedicated lanes will alienate potential supporters for the transportation tax," Simitian said Monday. "I don't think the VTA staff is as sensitive to that possibility as they could or should be."

Of the four north county cities that lie along El Camino, only Mountain View's City Council voted to support the project. That vote came by a bare majority, with only three members voting for it and two voting against it (two other council members recused themselves from the discussion).

Palo Alto has also been skeptical, given the potential effect of dedicated lanes on lost parking spaces and increased congestion.

In a joint meeting with the Palo Alto City Council on Monday night, Simitian said that he has urged the agency to first complete a separate BRT project, which is currently under way between Santa Clara and Alum Rock, and then see how it works before proceeding to El Camino.

The public, he said, needs to better understand the modeling and data used by the VTA so that it can be assured that the El Camino project does not become a "significant boondoggle."

"I think it would be unwise to push ahead, and I think not only would that be unwise for net result for BRT, I think it has the potential to take $6 billion of congestion relief and shove it aside if you have a group of folks unhappy with VTA's decision-making process," Simitian said.

VTA officials estimate that the dedicate-lane proposal would cost about $233 million. Some of the funding would come from Measure A, a tax that was passed in 2000. The agency also hopes to tap into federal funds through the Small Starts program administered by the Federal Transit Administration.

The VTA board of directors is scheduled to review in December or January the seven alternatives evaluated in the EIR, a list that includes dedicated lanes, a mixed-flow scenarios and several designs that combine the two. The board will then have the option of selecting one of these alternatives or direct staff to evaluate other options.

Ristow said he expects the project to take about three to five years to implement. He noted that VTA has heard "mixed views" from local policy makers about the proposal, as befitting a project that would bring "dramatic change" to the corridor. Some in the north county remain unconvinced. Yet Ristow also observed that some of the very same cities have said that they are "looking for more innovative and new transit ideas for their communities."

"That's exactly what this project does," Ristow said.

Related content:

Palo Alto officials protest rapid-bus plan

Plan for dedicated bus lanes on El Camino Real back on the table

Comments

VTAlies
Community Center
on Sep 22, 2015 at 8:43 pm
VTAlies, Community Center
on Sep 22, 2015 at 8:43 pm
33 people like this

VTA studies are geared to sell their ideas: they lie shamelessly.

Their assumptions on ridership and car travel time are nothing short of pure fantasy.

VTA light rail was a lie, high speed rail follows the same methodology.

Nothing from VTA is honest until the leaders of VTA are held personally accountable to their numbers via civil law..

We should be able to sue them personally for their mistaken projections.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm
9 people like this

One big flaw with this proposal that I haven't seen addressed is how are the passengers going to get on and off the buses since the doors are on the right which will be alongside the next lane of traffic? Will the buses be like school buses and put on red flashing lights to make all the traffic stop while passengers get on and off? Or will the VTA buy new buses from the UK which have doors on the left?

This is a serious consideration to this idea of bus lanes in the middle of the street. Has VTA got any idea of the mess this will make?

I don't think we have the volume for dedicated bus lanes unless of course Google buses and the like will also be using them. But the biggest fly in the ointment is definitely passengers getting on and off.


casey
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 22, 2015 at 10:16 pm
casey, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2015 at 10:16 pm
24 people like this

I'm normally supportive of transportation improvement measures, but I'll vote against all future bills if they push ahead with this proposal. Don't push El Camino traffic onto Alma, Middlefield or our neighborhood streets. We already know what happens when we reduce lanes a/k/a "traffic calming."


common sense
Midtown
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:19 am
common sense, Midtown
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:19 am
30 people like this

If I understand this report, it says that El Camino traffic will be minimally impacted because all the cars displaced by the Bus Only lane will use other streets. It's a big "screw you, we're making the bus go fast, and we don't care that it screws up every other street besides El Camino".

VTA should lose all tax payer subsidies if they decide to go forward with this. Measures should be put on the ballot to defund all sales tax money being allocated to VTA.


Stop the madness
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:50 am
Stop the madness, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:50 am
14 people like this

This is folly that will be obsoleted when self driving cars become a reality integrated into transit solutions.


This is Insanity
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 8:03 am
This is Insanity, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 8:03 am
40 people like this

This will be of no benefit to anyone, only harm.

VTA ridership is very low, they are already running in the red and have been for decades. Do they think a losing proposition like this will fix it?

All this will do is make the Silicon Valley traffic snarls worse, and push traffic onto residential streets, endangering bicycle riders ( especially kids).

Obviously these fools have done no research!


SteveU
Registered user
Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 8:44 am
SteveU, Barron Park
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2015 at 8:44 am
19 people like this

There are no through routes parallel to ECR north of Sunnyvale that are not already at or above capacity most of the day.

How many TONS of daily emissions from the resulting slower moving traffic are being conveniently ignored by the EIR?

Come to Los Robles if you want to see what reducing lanes on a major route has accomplished. (I bet the Maybel folk will report similar experiences)


Christine
Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 11:08 am
Christine, Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 11:08 am
16 people like this

How can anyone that uses El Camino or Alma during rush hours say That removing a lane will help? We will have more angry people on the roads than we have now. Just look at the disaster that "traffic calming" on Charleston and Arastradero has caused.


Jay Ess
Los Altos Hills
on Sep 23, 2015 at 11:33 am
Jay Ess, Los Altos Hills
on Sep 23, 2015 at 11:33 am
7 people like this

It might work for commuters. But why have it all day. do it like the car pool lanes-- only in commute hours and
allow bikes to use the lane. Maybe widen the area by taking parking out of the right lane.

If the parking goes away during commute lane time It could come back for shoppers during the mid day.

Basically, I wonder if the ridership is actually going to increase. I see a lot of empty busses. Huge ones. Why don't they use mini busses in the off hours? Save fuel


Commuter
Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm
Commuter, Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm
20 people like this

"The analysis showed that the travel time for cars would only go up from 40 minutes to 43.7 minutes as some drivers switch to other modes of transportation or find new routes to take."

In other words: get off our new bus avenue! At best, this will increase car time travel by 20 minutes (1/3 of the time), and at worst make it much longer.

And it does NOT make sense: most cars do not drive from Palo Alto to San Jose on ECR. I use 15 blocks of ECR to get from my house to a 237. At night, this takes 5 minutes. Commute times, this is gridlocked and can take 15-20 minutes. So, I'm supposed to sit in traffic for an extra 10-15 minutes watching an empty bus lane? Or worse, watching empty buses go by to places that I don't need to go?

Public transit is useless for my commute which involves 2 counties and at least 3 methods of transit. (Bus, Smart Rail, Bart, Bus). I know someone who tried, and it cost $250 PER WEEK. Until there is a useful, connected and easy method of public transit, NO ONE WILL USE IT. Especially if it is more expensive than driving.

The reason people don't use public transit is that it is expensive and difficult. Adding a bus lane WILL NOT FIX THAT!

And, what will it do to the non-existent bicycle "lanes"?

I do NOT want to pay for transit lanes for useless public transit, especially if it completely messes up everyone else's life.


Questions and an idea
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:20 pm
Questions and an idea, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:20 pm
20 people like this

In addition to taking a dedicated lane, BRT proposes preempting traffic signals for the buses (giving VTA buses automatic green signals when they approach intersections.

Question: How much time do the buses save with signal preemption? How much additional time do they save with the dedicated lanes? How does this affect cross street operations? VTA already tested signal preemption technology, so that's already paid for though not operating presently (as I understand it). Why not implement the signal preemption change for a while and PUBLICIZE the faster bus runs and see if that is an adequate improvement?

This is an enormously expensive project that doesn't really serve the east-west and transit NETWORK connectivity problems. However, solving the network connectivity problems that transit customers have to contend with would require collaboration with other transit agencies, and VTA doesn't play well with others.

I won't be voting for VTA's transportation tax--though I have in the past. I don't trust their data, and I don't feel they are listening to the expressed needs of north county AT ALL.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm
9 people like this

I'd like to see some hard numbers of bus ridership. Every bus I see is empty or practically empty.

As we've been hearing lately, these traffic "diets" eliminating lanes and forcing cars to find alternate routes and creating gridlock with no place for cars to move over for emergency vehicles. These "traffic diets" are very very dangerous with backed up cars spewing emissions.


Mountain View Resident
Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm
Mountain View Resident, Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm
7 people like this

Where is democracy in this high impact decision on the citizens' daily lives? Can this be put to vote in the next election? I do not believe that the 'assumptions' made in the subject studies are valid. Regardless, if the VTA wants a bus-only lane, they should build two car-only lanes in each direction in over passes for El Camino Real to enable drivers to reduce emission and improve efficiency. This project will take a vote on the ballot.


Robert Smith
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm
Robert Smith, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm
17 people like this

I don't see why this should reassure us.

Look at the photos: they show a loss of lanes in both directions.

Given how often the buses run, this basically means that lanes will be sitting empty while cars try to jam into the other lanes.

This fits what we see in Palo Alto: inconvenience the drivers as a strategy to get them to give up their cars.


GetaClue
Charleston Meadows
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:05 pm
GetaClue, Charleston Meadows
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:05 pm
15 people like this

Beware of VTA shills who show up at City Council meetings when this is discussed. This topic has been discussed at the Mountain Voice Town Square (online) where you can see much discussion and debate about this ridiculous proposal.


Vote NO on VTA taxes/bonds
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:09 pm
Vote NO on VTA taxes/bonds, Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:09 pm
28 people like this

Send a loud and clear message


Say goodbye to your trees
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm
Say goodbye to your trees, Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm
5 people like this

VTA plans to remove all those pesky trees that are in the way of their private bus lane. You're not allowed to use it.


No way to the VTA
Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm
No way to the VTA, Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm
22 people like this

I have stated this previously on other threads discussing this topic....


It's clear that the push back on this is going to need to be finessed, firm & relentless, because the VTA is going to try to leverage every tool at it's disposal - local, state & federal (if possible) - in order to foist this dedicated lane BRT scheme down the El Camino Real corridor cities throats, regardless of those cities wishes.

Please, send in your comments & concerns in to Joe Simitian's office directly at Web Link

Attention: Kris Zanardi, Policy Aide - Environment & Transportation


Mr. Simitian and his staff are very responsive.


Your voice DOES in fact matter, so don't let anyone try and convince you differently.


Midtown
Midtown
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:43 pm
Midtown, Midtown
on Sep 23, 2015 at 2:43 pm
10 people like this

VTA full employment plan.


pacsailor
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 3:05 pm
pacsailor , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2015 at 3:05 pm
14 people like this

This is a failing proposition, VTA is very San Jose centric and pay no attention to other cities in this county. They got themselves a boondoggle they call BART extension and have us pay for it although we will get no benefit from it. Now they want to clog one of our main traffic arteries with a useless I'll thought of idea called BRT, I wonder if the VTA board really know what they are proposing in the first place. We need to send a message loud and clear to VTA by voting NO on the proposed sales tax increase on next year's ballot.


K
another community
on Sep 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm
K, another community
on Sep 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm
4 people like this

I support the Bus Rapid Plan, would use it, and I wish San Mateo County would do the same.

Also, re. 'commuter', I am curious where your start and end points are for your commute as the $250/week sounds like more than 'normal'. There are often discounts for transfers: for instance, if you ride Caltrain with a monthly pass of two or more zones you can ride Samtrans and VTA free, which cuts down on expenses.


VTA
another community
on Sep 23, 2015 at 4:06 pm
VTA, another community
on Sep 23, 2015 at 4:06 pm
2 people like this

"One big flaw with this proposal that I haven't seen addressed is how are the passengers going to get on and off the buses since the doors are on the right which will be alongside the next lane of traffic?"


You are correct. We were not aware of that particular vehicle configuration when we prepared our plans. We thank you for pointing it out.

Obviously we must now dedicate the two innermost lanes in each direction for our buses. No perceptible impact on automobile traffic is anticipated as a result of this modification.


SteveU
Registered user
Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm
SteveU, Barron Park
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm
Like this comment

Next we will Import British buses with the exit on the other side.

The alternate is to Buy buses with a Unique configuration: with the Driver position in the middle so doors can be on either side. It is only Taxpayers money


Hoo Boy
Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm
Hoo Boy, Mountain View
on Sep 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm
2 people like this

"In addition to taking a dedicated lane, BRT proposes preempting traffic signals for the buses (giving VTA buses automatic green signals when they approach intersections."

Signal preemption systems are easily hacked by anybody with inexpensive hardware and some simple tech moxie.

Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh


stanhutchings
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm
stanhutchings, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm
4 people like this

The VTA should FIRST get the traffic lights synchronized on ECR so traffic can flow at 40 MPH. Once you make the first light, if you maintain the set speed, you don't get any more red lights until you need to turn left. Buses stop for red lights, too, and get stuck behind gridlocked traffic. If everybody goes faster, the buses will too. They don't need an extra dedicated lane, just good traffic synchronization.
The pipe dream of traffic finding other routes is a fantasy. Alma? Middlefield? Even 101 barely crawls during rush hour.
When I commuted from Old Palo Alto to Moffett Field, I could use a free VTA pass, my personal car, or my bike. It's about 10 miles. By VTA it took an hour and a half minimum, mainly because of required transfer light rail to bus schedule mis-match, infrequent buses, and circuitous bus route. Car took about 30 minutes in NORMAL traffic, but some days took an hour plus. Bike was a reliable 50 minutes door to door.
I agree that in a few years the autonomous vehicles will make buses and trains obsolete for commuting. Ride sharing will be MUCH easier, and door-to-door service will be convenient.
Stop the VTA plan by voting against the transportation-tax measure in November 2016, and all future plans that do not support and implement autonomous vehicle (cars, trucks and buses) adoption.


Sal
Evergreen Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 7:55 pm
Sal, Evergreen Park
on Sep 23, 2015 at 7:55 pm
5 people like this

VTA reassures critics that their proposed bus lanes are not going to create traffic nightmares, that's laughable. Any half wit can see that their renderings of El Camino with, and without a bus lane, are pure fantasy. The only time El Camino EVER has so few cars and/or buses may be an hour or two after bars close in the middle of the night. Their 'conceptual drawings, like the rest of their plan is a pile of **** with no ridership to warrant extra buses, let alone dedicated bus lanes.

VTA has proven themselves to be incapable of managing what they have. VTA light rail was supposed to be a game changer for SV commuters. It's a barely used financial Albatross on SC tax payers. Boost light rail fare revenues from from the single digits to closer to 50% to prove you can do something right before creating more problems for Santa Clara residents.


Jane
College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2015 at 12:22 am
Jane, College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2015 at 12:22 am
Like this comment

Some time ago, when the plan to dedicate the two center lanes for buses surfaced, I read that VTA were going to eliminate most of the left turn lanes on El Camino so as not to block the buses.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:42 am
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:42 am
1 person likes this

How is it possible for VTA to take away a lane on a State Highway? State taxpayers pay for this road. When Caltrans added freeway HOV lanes, they didn't take away existing lanes, they added on.

Is this a legal taking of public/state-owned property?


Anony Mouse
Meadow Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm
Anony Mouse, Meadow Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm
3 people like this

Ha! I love it. "Don't improve public transit, we have too much traffic", "The busses are running empty, so let's make sure NOT to improve service". Glad you all are not transit planners.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2015 at 1:28 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2015 at 1:28 pm
3 people like this

"Don't improve public transit, we have too much traffic", "The busses are running empty, so let's make sure NOT to improve service"."

Sorry, but the rationale for dedicating substantial road resources to empty buses escapes me. Pray elucidate.

"Glad you all are not transit planners."

Actually, nobody in this Valley seems to be.


Crescent Park Dad
Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 7:44 pm
Crescent Park Dad, Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2015 at 7:44 pm
4 people like this

Advantage: Curmudgeon!

;-)


Lousy VTA Service
Los Altos
on Sep 25, 2015 at 12:03 am
Lousy VTA Service, Los Altos
on Sep 25, 2015 at 12:03 am
4 people like this

Well, the problem with the "Rapid" service even with BRT is that there are only stops every 2 miles or so. This is worthless for local transportation, which is the reason the buses are empty most of the time. You won't get more riders even if you run more frequently during the non-peak times of the day. It just won't have any effect other than to burn diesel fuel. It's akin to a product where you lose $1 for each unit you sell, but you try to "Make it up on volume." No Go.

On the other hand, at peak times during the day, then there are some riders, but oddly, they are 2 to 1 riding the 22 service which makes all the stops versus the "faster" 522 service which doesn't stop where people want to depart and go mostly. They ride 22. It won't help them a bit if 522 goes faster.

So there you go. It's a very bad plan, and just serves to rack up the deficit in VTA's funding, without encouraging more riders.


Vote against VTA measure
Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 18, 2015 at 9:59 am
Vote against VTA measure, Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 18, 2015 at 9:59 am
6 people like this

The VTA wants even more money to pocket, squander and misuse. A tax increase measure is planned for 2016. It would collect billions more. Yhe bus lane plan will likely be postponed until after that election.


Vote Against VTA Measure
Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 23, 2016 at 12:09 pm
Vote Against VTA Measure, Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 23, 2016 at 12:09 pm
5 people like this

On the November ballot.


Resident
South of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm
Resident, South of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm
6 people like this

Actually, I don't have a huge problem with bus-dedicated lanes.
It makes sense!
As it stands, we always have to swerve around buses whenever they pull over and they cause a lot of havoc in the right lane.

El Camino is not an efficient route anyways.

Cars should use other roads. Residential streets, even, if it helps alleviate congestion.

What we need is for PA City Council to stop worshiping bikes and adding speed bumps, sharrows, stop sigs and green bike lanes everywhere -- deliberately discouraging cars from driving on streets that are perfectly fine to drive on.

For decades, cyclists have been perfectly fine. They want MORE cyclists so that our streets look like Beijing.

PA City Council is not coordinated with the VTA - one wants bus business, the other has a bizarre pagan-like devotion to bikes and cars are left nowhere to go, so they idle in congested intersections *polluting the air* while the drivers blast the A/C in their faces and are content to sit in traffic playing around on their phones.

Allow cars to use more roads instead of cyclists and leave ECR to the buses.


Steve Ly
Los Altos
on Jul 26, 2016 at 8:53 am
Steve Ly, Los Altos
on Jul 26, 2016 at 8:53 am
3 people like this

The dedicated lane screws bus passengers by splitting stops. If you're going from Palo Alto to Mountain View, you don't care if it's a 22 or 522, you just take whatever comes first to minimize the wait time. With dedicated lanes, there will be safety issues as passengers run between local and express stops.

VTA wants to ram the dedicated lane through at the same time that they're asking voters to approve yet another bump in the sales tax. Santa Clara County residents are already paying three sales taxes to VTA, a permanent 1/2 cent that was approved in 1976, plus the more recent Measures A and B, whose revenues are mostly going down the BART sinkhole. Plus, we're paying a Vehicle Registration Fee on top of that. Yet this is not enough, they want more tax money to flush down the BART toilet while eliminating local routes.

VTA is asking the voters for a fourth sales tax increase yet they refuse to “value engineer” their expensive projects. There is no reason that the BART extension needs to duplicate existing bus and train service between the San Jose and Santa Clara stations. And the proposed Bus Rapid Transit could be constructed at lower cost by eliminating the dedicated center lanes and converting the curbside lanes to HOV use during peak hours.

Money saved from cutting the “gold plating” from big capital projects could be spent on supporting the bus system, saving routes threatened by "Network 90." Until VTA learns to use its existing resources more efficiently, vote NO on more taxes.



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