Cities press Valley Transportation Authority to move on transit woes

Letter signed by Mountain View, Palo Alto and others reminds agency to study Highway 85

Firing off a proverbial warning shot, Mountain View, Palo Alto and six other West Valley cities sent a letter recently to the (VTA) of Santa Clara County, reminding the agency to make the cities' local traffic problems a top priority.

It is the second time the eight cities have sent a joint letter to remind VTA officials they want more attention focused on local transit solutions, particularly along the Highway 85 corridor.

The letter comes at a significant time, when VTA officials are preparing a sales tax measure for the November 2016 ballot in the hopes of funding a host of transportation improvements. Whether the measure has unified support from cities across Santa Clara County could make difference in its success at the ballot box.

In the latest letter, the cities suggest that a comprehensive study of state Highway 85 should begin well before the sales-tax measure goes to voters.

Mountain View and Palo Alto were joined in signing the letter by Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, Saratoga and Campbell.

Related content:

Cities challenge Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority on transportation funding

Palo Alto seeks larger benefits from 2016 tax measure

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14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:43 am

It is beyond time that all these small agencies were combined into one Bay Area transit authority. We need much better integration between Caltrain, VTA, SamTrans, BART, Muni, etc. etc. etc. All trains, ferries and buses should be run by one agency and they should be coordinating their services, their ticketing, their administration and their advertising. We need much better East/West services, much better first and last mile services, much better airport services, much better commuter services along the lines of Google buses, but for those that work for small companies but still need that length of luxury bus transit.

7 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 6, 2016 at 2:08 pm

This new bond measure is more of the same. The so-called "Silicon Valley Leadership Group" is the 'brains' behind this latest bond measure, and VTA is the public agency that gives them some form of legitimacy. The 'new' bond measure is a continuation of the existing sales tax, but most likely at a higher rate. The SVLG's goal is to funnel at least $4B in new tax dollars to tunnel a few miles to get BART from Alum Rock to downtown San Jose. Almost every dollar of sales tax revenue from the prior sales tax measures, has disappeared into the massive BART extension from Fremont towards San Jose, hence the concern from so many western Santa Clara county towns for a verified plan to redistribute any new tax dollars more equitably, ie, this is not to fund BART. There are are other existing, well documented mass transit problems in Santa Clara County that have needed addressing for many tears. Grade separating Caltrain in Santa Clara County for safety and more frequent train traffic, or at least starting that process, comes to mind right away.

A series of news stories a few years ago revealed that there was little documentation either existing, or that would be provided, to account for spent public tax dollars. I suspect that if the dollars were traced, it would reveal a politically motivated distribution of tax revenues, rather than real transportation based need. I look no further than VTA's last massive transportation project lead by Rod Diridon, captain High Speed Rail, the Santa Clara County light rail project. Tremendously expensive to build, long term massive bond debt to still repay, and barely earns 10% of operating costs through ticket sales. In other words, it is a very poorly used, costly example of mass transit run amuk in Santa Clara County under VTA's 'leadership'.

9 people like this
Posted by Agreed. Break down the silos.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 6, 2016 at 2:13 pm

I AGREE with "Resident." Break down the silos to create a robust regional transit network. VTA simply distributes north county tax dollars to San Jose. I, for one, have had enough. I will be voting NO on their proposed sales tax measure though I have always previously supported transit funding.

VTA has betrayed my trust repeatedly. Shame on them. I will send a message with my vote.

4 people like this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Years ago, there were gaps between towns on the peninsula (And you rode the Greyhound to SF).

If it were not for the City Limit signs, you would not know you left a jurisdiction (OK, You can tell you left PA for MTV because there are now 4 story buildings on ECR).

The point is, this is the Metro Bay Area. We need EFFICIENT transit that matches the needs of commuters, not that that meets the needs of the operators. We need FAST connections from the main routes to where work or live, not buses that meander through a dozen business parks before returning to the MAIN routes (22/522) or transit hubs and Stations. Hint: there should be buses waiting for train arrivals at Cal AV (as well as PA main). Every transfer eats more time and discourages transit use. Lets have a rule: No more than 3 bus rides to get anyplace within PA core (Foothill to 101) area, with 2 buses being the goal for 80% of the rides

5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:36 pm

"We need much better integration between Caltrain, VTA, SamTrans, BART, Muni, etc. etc. etc."

This could bring real competition to the transit scene, as the SF and other north peninsula powers square off against the SJ gang over how to divide the take.

7 people like this
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:50 pm

There are some advantages to merging all Bay Area transit agencies, but regional equity is not among them. Palo Alto will be pushed further down the priority list if we have to compete with SF, Oakland, etc in addition to San Jose as we do now. A look at the history of MTC proves that. Marin County gets far more money than makes any sense based on their population and density, because they have more political power. Having one regional transit agency makes sense to those who are purely logical and rational, but that is not reality. Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it!

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Hope you are wrong Donald. I would imagine that merging would save a lot of money as they would do away with a lot of senior administrators, office systems, training etc. as there must be a lot of duplicity in all these agencies.

2 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 7, 2016 at 6:18 pm

"I would imagine that merging would save a lot of money as they would do away with a lot of senior administrators, office systems, training etc."

Not so fast. The CEO of a larger agency would need a much larger salary and benefits package, of course, as well as a substantial signing bonus. It naturally goes with the territory. Likewise for the requisite bevy of vice presidents, whose ranks and salary must be brought up to the standards of a larger organization, along with their deputies, assistant deputies, assistants to the deputies, various associate positions, and of course a suitable clerical staff, none of whom has ever been near a bus. Cost growth is exponential with the size of the organization, not proportional.

1 person likes this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 7, 2016 at 9:06 pm

I too agree that a unified Bay Area Mass Transit agency in principal, would be a good idea. In practice, the MTC appears to be accountable to no one. Further, I would expect politics, rather than any real mass transit need, would dictate spending from a larger MTC.

1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 7, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Agreed with @Resident,

"there must be a lot of duplicity in all these agencies."

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

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