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Does VTA's leadership need an overhaul? Berman gathers ideas for how to do it

Original post made on Mar 29, 2022

A Silicon Valley legislator wants big changes for the region's major transit agency, and not everyone is on board.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 29, 2022, 12:17 PM

Comments (8)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2022 at 12:45 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Time to rethink public transit all over the Bay Area. Make it a regional agency with emphasis on serving passengers who want a reliable, efficient, affordable alternative to solo commuting. Get rid of duplicate leadership roles over the region. Stop competing and make transit modes complementing with transfers that are timed rather than individually priced. Stop looking at public transit as serving those who are poor and have hours to get to their destination and put in a system that gets people to where they are going the most direct way with as few stops as possible.

These would be a start to improvement. In other countries public transit is a priority. Here it is an afterthought.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2022 at 10:20 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I'm quite disappointed that I am the only reader who has commented on this article.

It shows that Palo Altans are unable to think about how to improve public transportation, but it may say more about our faith in how awful the service is in this part of the county.

In an area which has lost its shuttle, has no school buses to get kids to school, and has an abysmal VTA service, it shows me that we don't expect any changes to improve what we have.

Sad state of affairs. If the only alternative to driving is ride a bike or walk to save gas now that it's so expensive, we are in a sorry state.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 30, 2022 at 4:45 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Here's a Palo Alto-specific complaint for the VTA: Putting a bus stop 3 -- THREE car lengths -- from busy intersections like Embarcadero & Middlefield is dangerous and shows the VTA's lack of familiarity with traffic conditions.
In what life do they think there are fewer than 3 cars going through this intersection and backing up behind the bus AND unable to pass the bus because Palo Alto so brilliantly eliminated a traffic lane right at the bus stop.

See also San Antonio and Middlefield where they put a bus stop less than 2 car lengths from the intersection right IN the turn lane from Middlefield onto San Antonio heading west. That one's REAL dangerous because drivers are looking at oncoming traffic and not expecting to see a bus suddently in their path.

But I guess that's why our "leaders" get the big bucks.

Mr. Berman, are you listening to the specific complaints of your constituents?? I eagerly await your SUBSTANTIVE response.

Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2022 at 11:23 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

Reorganizing the board might help a bit, but we need to change the way the VTA staff operate, their priorities, and the way they interact (or more usually, don't interact) with the public.

A first step would be for the County Board of Supervisors to remove VTA's designation as a "Congestion Management Agency." and demand that VTA prioritize its buses and light rail over building BART, freeway express lanes, and "innovative" transit (whatever this is supposed to be; VTA put money in Measure B for all of these things instead of closing the funding gap in their bus system which they already knew about when they wrote Measure B)

We need public transit that comprehensively covers the whole county and serves people who NEED public transit (such as those who don't own or can't drive cars) over those who CHOOSE to use transit (fully-employed people with cars who can get anywhere in the county much more quickly than virtually any VTA service).

Unfortunately, VTA ended its attempt to comprehensively cover the county in 2008 or 2009 in reaction to the recession, and ever since has been regularly cutting local service the transit-dependent need while advertising VTA as a "commuter" service for full-time jobbers (despite their buses generally getting you places 2-4 times slower than a car).

Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2022 at 11:42 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

Online Name, VTA is aware of the danger of bus stops being close to major intersections, but their response has been to try to reduce the time that buses wait at those stops rather than move the stops, which unfortunately can make it more difficult for riders to catch buses at those stops, since several of them are, or were, timepoints.

For example, VTA recently removed the "timepoint" designation from the Middlefield and Colorado stop, which makes it harder to catch buses for those of us who used to time our rides based on that timepoint. They also moved the northbound Middlefield and Charleston timepoint to Middlefield and Mayview (i.e. Mitchell Park Library) a few years ago to stop buses from waiting at Charleston. Again, it's now harder to catch buses at Charleston since they often arrive early but then go on to Mayview to wait several minutes until they're ready to go.

Middlefield and Embarcadero is still a timepoint, but for years buses have sometimes left that timepoint early, at least on the northbound side, and then driven a few more stops before waiting to catch up to the schedule if they're ahead of it.

So basically, VTA seems to advise its drivers to ignore scheduled timepoints if they're at intersections that the buses might block.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2022 at 5:13 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"So basically, VTA seems to advise its drivers to ignore scheduled timepoints if they're at intersections that the buses might block."

And/or work with Palo Alto to remove the bollards that now prevent cars from going around the buses and that also contribute to the backups,

Posted by Jim Donnegan
a resident of Los Altos
on Mar 31, 2022 at 9:53 am

Jim Donnegan is a registered user.

From a more basic perspective...the VTA buses need to be kept cleaner & the transients who incessantly sleep & ride on the #22 from Eastridge in San Jose to the Palo Alto train station need to be booted off.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 1, 2022 at 8:46 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

If you want to rethink public transit, you need to rethink land-use policy. Another way to call public transportation is mass transportation. There's not enough mass here.

Our homes and job centers are too thinly spread across the peninsula that no public transportation will ever be cost-effective enough to do get enough people out of cars. For as tight as people feel that we are on the peninsula, we are still a vast suburbia.

All this deck chair shuffling at VTA or integrating into one big Bay Area transit agency won't change the physics of the problem.

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