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SV in 2018: More success, more pressure

Original post made on Feb 8, 2018

The Bay Area's fevered success is still rising, but its achievements continue to exacerbate the region's housing and transportation pressures, a new Joint Venture Silicon Valley report, the 2018 Silicon Valley Index, found.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 8, 2018, 9:51 AM

Comments (16)

22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2018 at 10:59 am

From the article << Ridership on private shuttles now represents the Bay Area's largest mass-transit system, with the majority of shuttles traveling between San Francisco, Santa Clara and Alameda counties, the study found. >>

So why aren't we doing similar express bus routes run by private enterprise for non-Google/Facebook/Apple employees.

If the system works for them it should work for the general population. Express buses to airports along the 101 with stops at various off ramps would be a great help as well as all the way from SF to SJ on both 101 and 180. Park and ride lots with express bus service that is affordable, efficient, clean and reliable should be a no-brainer.

6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2018 at 11:28 am

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood:

>> So why aren't we doing similar express bus routes run by private enterprise for non-Google/Facebook/Apple employees.

Good question!

>> If the system works for them it should work for the general population.

Umm, nope. -Not in general.- The reason it works for Google is that the employer destination is "Google". (A few Google stops, including Google-internal shuttles to some small locations.) Throughout Silicon Valley, employers are distributed everywhere. Vanpools can sometimes provide service for people who live close together and who work close together, and, they get to use carpool lanes. The main disadvantage is the fixed schedule.

In the general case, workplaces are "everywhere".

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Anon. Workplaces are everywhere, you are right of course. But so are the Google campuses, the Apple campuses, but it doesn't stop them from running efficient transit.

What is necessary is not a spoke and wheel type of transit, but a major transit route following the main highways with park and ride lots as well as shuttles for first and last mile. IOW, someone coming from say Morgan Hill, will park their car at the park and ride lot near 101, take a transit bus to say Mountain View using 85, or Palo Alto, being met by efficient dedicated shuttles to the localized business districts (iow, one to Cal Ave, one to downtown and one to Stanford campus). Likewise, the Palo Alto residents needing to get out of town will park and take the same routes further up and down the Peninsula.

I don't see why you think that buses have to pick up and drop off in neighborhoods where the riders live, or business areas where the riders work. Instead first land last mile should and can be done by bikes, by shuttles or private cars (at the home end).

3 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 8, 2018 at 3:18 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Those company shuttle buses are obviously funded by the companies themselves and are designed to benefit only their employees. Public shuttles would have to be funded by ridership fees and taxpayer money.

I think the park and ride idea has some merit and potential of being successful in reducing traffic and parking problems in the areas of University Avenue, California Avenue, Stanford Research Park, Stanford Shopping Center, and even on the main campus of Stanford University itself. It would be primarily for the benefit of the employees who work at those places. It has been proposed before, by CC member, Cory Wolbach, when he ran for office back in 2014.

There are questions with it that need to be addressed, and answered, however: Where will the parking areas be located? How many shuttle buses will be needed and what will their schedules be? There will be people needing to go in different directions and at different times. That would normally bother me, but not anymore, knowing we have very smart people, the world's best and brightest here in SV. They have great abilities to gather data, analyze it, and develop algorithms from it, and to use it to solve problems like this.

Oh, but a couple more things ...and pretty important things...what will it cost and who will pay for it? What, in the plan will ridership fees cover? What will us taxpayers be held responsible for? There will be many costs: Purchase and development of parking areas, purchase of shuttle buses, hiring and training employees, maintenance of the buses, plus the administration costs at City Hall for all of this.

Add them up. I defer to our City Manager on the costs of those.

But, there is still a sad part to it. All this effort is just to alleviate/mitigate local travel issues...slow stop and go traffic congestion and parking issues. It does nothing to reduce the number of hours on the highways and freeways for people who will still have to travel, from far away places, to get to our wonderful park and drive parks, because they can't afford to live near where they work.

That is still the biggest, most challenging, and most insoluble issue we face in PA, and one that all of our wonderful neighboring Silicon Valley cities face also.

4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2018 at 3:41 pm


You are still thinking locally. This regionally. The efficient buses running along the highways will have stops every 5 miles or so at various places along the Peninsula. People will be getting off luxury buses at our offramps and onto our shuttle buses to get them to their places of work. One will be waiting for the other, not running to a timetable that doesn't coordinate. The buses will then be getting more riders who have either parked in that same park and ride lot or arrived by carpool or bike. They in turn will ride the luxury bus to points farther along the highway or even the airport or BART.

As for funding, well we have garages, lots and meters and some of that money should go towards funding local shuttles and the luxury highway buses can be funded by gas tax, bridge tolls, highway tolls, in part.

Getting solo driven cars off local roads is a local aim, but getting solo driven cars off highways should also be part of the equation. The amount of time spent by the population sitting idle in traffic has to have a monetary value. Even a Silicon Valley regional business tax paid by every employer of over 25 employees be they skilled or technical has to be seen to be put to work making everyone's commutes easier.

The school trips problem is very real also. The more people sending their kids to private schools only makes the problem worse. Many of the private schools in Palo Alto, Girls Middle School, International School, etc. are not even served by VTA or shuttles. They must also pay into the cost of offsets in public transportation by the number of staff and pupils that come to their campuses on a daily basis.

We are in a serious situation. Funding for public transportation and heavy penalties for those who continue to resist doing their bit have to be taken into account. A free parking spot at any place of employment in the urban setting has to be considered a perk and I would suggest taxing that also.

Serious measures have to be invoked to get our heads above water in this. We are not going to get ourselves out of this mess city by city, or even county by county. We are only treading water but beginning to sink. Drowning will occur unless we take seriously measures to prevent it.

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2018 at 3:51 pm

I disagree with the above post 100 percent.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Midtown Resident. You don't have to agree with me, but what solutions would you like to try? No complaints about how or why things are so bad, but positive ideas that might make a difference.

The situation is dire, solutions are going to be painful!

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2018 at 7:26 pm

I've posted on it in several other threads. Really tired of this topic, but if uou want density, overpopulation, inefficiency, socialism, and slow cultural degeneracy with a bloated ruling class that can solve all our problems through endless tax hikes and punitive measures, then I guess that is your preference.

Maybe technology and data collection has reached overflow. Do we really need so much technology in our lives? We are slowly giving away our minds to computers and it is bad for humanity and our physical health. We are becoming sclerotic with an over reliance on smartphones. With the exploding profitability of all these tech companies, the jobs-housing imbalance is really a cyberspace-living space imbalance and it is all concentrated in the Silicone Valley. It feels like a bubble that's going to burst soon, and it's already happening.

7 people like this
Posted by John Uebbing
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2018 at 8:12 pm

London and Singapore have electronic road pricing. Chicago has toll roads into and out of the city. By making solo commuting really expensive, the road crowding will be reduced. Lower income people would have a good incentive to car pool. Car pooling can be mediated by the internet. Uberpool is like this. When I was young, I car pooled to go to work in Chicago. It took longer, but the sociability was great. Empty VTA buses are not the answer. Empty car seats are not the answer.

2 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 8, 2018 at 10:01 pm

Downtown Palo Alto has a TMA, Stanford Research Park has a TMA, and Stanford has been in this business for a long time.

These are the organizations that need to get funding from their constituents and ramp up their solutions.

29 people like this
Posted by Not a success - a growing disaster!
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2018 at 10:48 pm

The entire premise that unbridled growth and congestion that lead to ever larger amorphous mobs of people collecting in one area is a "success" is ridiculous!

Success should not be measured by how much money developers can make, or by how many people an area can attract, but by the quality of life in an area and how the environment that includes the local people but also the other elements that make up life are treated.

When foolish government officials allow buildings are at the edge of the bay that will be underwater in a couple of decades, allow too many employers to attract workers who overwhelm the carrying capacity of the area and don't consider the amount of water, clean air and open space needed to support those who are here then we have major issues.

By any measure other than rampant greed Silicon Valley is not a success, but a present and enlarging disaster.

3 people like this
Posted by Tech Buses
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 9, 2018 at 2:20 pm

The tech buses, on paper, are likely costing the company money, but the big "However" is that the company gets something in return: Employees working more hours. That, in the grand scheme of things, is a huge monetary gain to the company, even if not quantified on paper(though I'm sure it is somewhere).
A "Public" system run like the tech buses would also operate at that paper loss, but there is no benefit back to the parent "company", so....ffffft.

3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2018 at 3:26 pm

Posted by chris, a resident of University South:

>> Downtown Palo Alto has a TMA, Stanford Research Park has a TMA,

"TMA"? Too Many Acronyms?

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Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2018 at 3:31 pm

I was curious too - after getting past "Tissue Micro Array" I got to TMA = Transportation Management Association

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Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 11, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.


Thanks, and sorry I didn't fully understand your plan on my first quick scan of it. My bad. I was only thinking about the local problem, as you pointed out, and not, as you proposed, a regional one. Your plan is worth a try, but I can see some problems in getting people to buy into it. And yes, I hate to say it, but this is another case where a poll might be needed to see how much support there is for the idea.

A scenario in the life of a commuter to a destination in PA with your plan: Most likely a drive in a car will be required to get to the luxury long haul bus stop near where they live. Most likely there will be a wait involved at the stop. Then there's time on the luxury bus with stops (those are time consumers), on the way to the local shuttle bus parking areas. Most likely there will be waiting time there also to get onto a shuttle bus which will take them near, but not necessarily to, their destination...their place of employment. Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about that horrible commute, and it would probably add another 25-30 minutes to a one way commute, above a solo driver car trip. Good luck on selling your idea...but it has one wonderful benefit...our city planners and CC could stop talking about parking problems and the need to build more parking garages.

Our lives and life decisions are always based on 'pros' and 'cons'. Here's another opportunity. But, let the commuters decide, not us old comfortably retired guys.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Gale, thanks for that.

In a previous life I commuted into a large city for work. My commute did indeed involve 3 separate modes of transport, my car, a commuter train then a city bus (or in nice weather a 25 minute walk). The whole commute generally took about an hour. Doing the same commute in off-peak traffic would have probably taken 30 minutes but I would still have had a short walk from public parking to my place of work. In peak hour traffic, which I never attempted, I wouldn't like to guess. The price of my train ride and bus ride as well as parking at the station, would have been about one third of the cost of all day parking in the city.

I say all this because I weighed up the pros and cons of my commute options. There were times that I got back to my car and drove part of the way back into the city for social reasons, and other times I did errands on the driving part of my commute. Having my car near where I worked would have been useful for about one third of the time. Even poor weather still did not outweigh the disadvantage of using my car for my full commute.

When a routine commute starts to take longer than efficient public transit and also costs more, what advantages are there to having a car near where you work? The thing about a routine commute is that it becomes a habit. I recently made the mistake of getting onto highway 101 NB at Oregon at about 4.30 pm. It took over 20 minutes to get across the bridge and to merge onto the highway. There are people who do this routinely every day as part of their normal commute home. Can we say that this is really a better way to get home after a busy day at work?

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