Wednesday, February 23, 2005

VTA's so-call "investment program"

Late last week, VTA released on its web site a document called Long Term Transit Capital Investment Program to justify putting a new VTA 1/2 cent sales tax on the ballot. It is basically a recap of the projects listed in the 2000 Measure A. After four years, could VTA have reevaluated its projects based on merit in light on recent economic condition? Of course not.

Besides of what VTA considers to be a mandate, such as the San Jose deep tunneling project, VTA also included $1.3 million to study "new rail corridors" this year, and almost $3 billion to construct "at least two" of these new corridors:

• Sunnyvale/Cupertino;
• East Valley Extension to Guadalupe LRT;
• Santa Teresa/Coyote Valley and potential extension south to Morgan Hill;
• Stevens Creek Boulevard;
• West San Jose/Santa Clara;
• North County/Palo Alto;
• Vasona LRT to Vasona Junction.

I doubt any of those on the list has any merit. The most ridiculous corridors to be included are Santa Teresa/Coyote Valley and the North County/Palo Alto. These corridors are already served by Caltrain in which VTA is not interested to support. Also, if these light rail projects were built, the travel time from Palo Alto and from Coyote Valley to Downtown San Jose would likely take over an hour.

Although as usual planning for rail is a long process and that eventually there may not be any funding available to do whatever VTA wants, but studying new corridors now clearly demostrates where VTA's priorities are.

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