Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Clear cut fraudulent ridership projection

VTA yesterday released new ridership project for the BART project. From the previous estimate of 87,200 to 111,000. VTA claimed the increase in the projection is due to the use of a newer regional projection from ABAG. On the other hand, it begs the question whether it is actually the case of GIGO (Garbage in, garbage out)?

Several reasons why this projection is fishy:

1. By dividing the 111,000 ridership to six stations, each station would have on average 18,500 entries and exits. Using the 2000 BART ridership breakdown (which has declined since then), only 5 BART stations (all in San Francisco: Powell, Montgomery, Balboa Park, 24th Street, and Embarcadero) have a higher non-transbay entries and exits than 18,500. For reason for using non-transbay ridership because, unlike the transbay corridor faced with limited highway capacity and the $2 toll effective at that time, the drivers Santa Clara County have multiple free routes to and from the East Bay as well as San Francisco. About half of the BART ridership is transbay.

Two major factors should be considered when reviewing BART ridership in San Francisco: 1) San Francisco permits Muni Fast Pass holders unlimited rides on BART within the city, which VTA probably will not allow for its passholders. 2) San Francisco has a considerably higher density than San Jose (16,634.4 persons per square mile in SF v. 5,117.9 persons per square mile in SJ)

If transbay ridership is included, only 9 BART stations have overall ridership over 18,500. In addition to the 5 SF stations, they're 16th Street/Mission, Civic Center, Oakland 12th Street and Downtown Berkeley. So far only the land use around the downtown San Jose station could match downtown Oakland or Berkeley, but without the benefit of the transbay ridership base. Stations in the East Bay further away from the Oakland/SF core tend to have lower ridership, and the land use around these stations are typically similar to the South Bay.

2. VTA's new projection is similar to the LA's Red Line subway, which is 18.6 miles long and carries about 117,543 riders per day. The LA's Red Line has 16 stations, serving downtown LA (which has much taller buildings than San Jose), the Wilshire Corridor (more dense than El Camino, with Metro Rapid buses operating every 2 minutes duplicating the Red Line), Hollywood, and the south end of the San Fernando Valley. It has links to the Blue Line (with 75,000 riders per day) and Gold Line light rail, as well as Amtrak and Metrolink. LA's Red Line uses the same fare structure with its bus and light rail counterparts, offering a flat fare, along with day and monthly passes. It is also a subway line using the proof-of-payment system common with light rail.

LA's sytem was originally projected to carry about 300,000 riders per day.

LA has four times the population of San Jose, and its population density is higher than San Jose but lower than San Francisco.

3. VTA, after years of fare increases and service reductions, have fewer than 100,000 riding on its bus system today. The projected BART ridership is higher than the current systemwide bus ridership. The system in LA, even with 117,543 riders on the Red Line, has over 1.2 million boardings per weekday on its bus system. San Francisco Muni carries over 700,000 riders per weekday on its bus and rail system, more than twice of BART's overall ridership.

If for some magical reasons, VTA achieves the high density developments needed to support 111,000 riders on BART, how many would be riding its buses and light rail? (hint: probably 7 to 10 times higher than BART) And will VTA have the necessary funds to support a bus and light rail system that could carry over 1 million riders each weekday? (probably VTA is assuming that everything else stays constant)

This BART extension isn't the New York subway or London Underground, a higher BART ridership along with a low bus and light rail ridership defies common logic!

Why GIGO? Like in the past, VTA has been certifying lies to win elections. Back in 2000, when Pete Cipolla reported that an additional tax is necessary to provide additional operating funds, some of the directors said in public that a new tax was not needed because the economy was doing so well and the tax money was pouring in. Today, many years sooner than Cipolla originally estimated, VTA plans for a new tax. VTA and the SVLG will likely use this new figure to try mislead voters to support a new tax as well.


Richard Mlynarik said...

Top average daily weekday volume stations for the entire BART system in FY04
(NB national security secret BART webmaster-password-encrypted eyes-only document):

Montgomery 29706
Embarcadero 29438
Powell 22491
Civic Center 18609
12th Street 11899
TOTAL 112143

Compare to seven SJX stations in 2005-10-05 VTA staff memo:

Capitol ???
Berryessa ???
Alum Rock ???
SJSU ???
Market Street ???
Father of VTA Light Rail Memorial ???
Santa Clara ???
TOTAL 111500


Anonymous said...

San Jose BART Death Watch: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics Edition
Now this one is from the Are you f***ing kidding me? file: Backers of South Bay BART have upsized ridership estimates yet again, this time to 111,500 boardings per weekday (just to be clear, that's a year-2030 projection; previous figures were for earlier years). Let's review, shall we? In 1999, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission projected, preliminarily at least, daily ridership of just 10,000. A year later, San Jose and Valley Transportation Authority officials predicted ridership of 45,000 — unless another 144 million square feet of buildings were to be added to Downtown San Jose, increasing the amount of office space by 600 percent and its population by 3000 percent. In that case? 78,000 riders. When their number was roundly criticized, they forecast a new figure, based on "more sophisticated modeling," of ... 78,000. That was for the year 2020; later, the VTA revised the count to 84,000 for 2025. So what's new? Officially, local planners expect denser development along the line; unofficially, federal planners rated the project's cost-effectiveness "low" — not that it really matters, since politicians got it and a handful of other projects exempted from a new requirement that recommended projects be rated at least "medium" (and even with the new numbers, the cheaper surface segment the Federal Transit Administration will now review would still rate a "low"). Still, the project's going to need three-quarters of a billion dollars from the feds, and for two-thirds of Santa Clara County voters to agree to tax themselves, again (see below). Hey, at least VTA finally admitted the project will cost more than $4.2 billion: The new estimate is $4.7 billion, still a billion-and-a-half dollars less than the FTA figures it will cost — but then who's counting?

Anonymous said...

San Jose BART Death Watch: Caltrain Electrification Lives Edition
How's this for ironic: The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which for years has been doing everything in its power to spike Caltrain electrification and anything else that might endanger its mission of BART ├╝ber alles, is rallying South Bay officials around a plan that would delay BART-to-San Jose for three years to pay for Caltrain and rapid buses. No, Carl Guardino and company haven't had a change of heart — they've just come around, apparently, to the idea that without support from parts of Santa Clara County that won't benefit from BART, the additional tax needed to not just build but run the train doesn't stand a chance of the two-thirds approval necessary for passage. Is San Jose BART too high a price to pay for Caltrain electrification? It's too high a price to pay, period — over $6 billion for a line that, we're willing to bet, will have less patronage than Muni's 38-Geary bus. But at least the silver bullet might come with a silver lining. Oh, about those rapid buses: They would take the place of planned (before BART came along, anyway) light rail lines, including one along East Santa Clara Street, part of the South Bay's first BRT line and the one corridor in the Valley where streetcars might make sense. 17 Sep 2005

Anonymous said...

VTA and SJ leaders should get in touch with reality and come up with realistic numbers. To project out to 2030 is absolutly ridiculous when it is very clear the real demand for BART to SJ Downtown is no where near reality anytime now or even in the year 2030. Those numbers show that they are fraudulently pushing fiction. I just do not see SJ citizens approving massive developments that are bigger then SF's current office space. I am willing to bet without a doubt if they did build the $5 to 6 billion project(we sure know about estimates, e.g. Bay Bridge) the ridership would be less then the current SF to SF Airport route. Clearly the best and efficient alternative is to extend the VTA light rail to the future Warm Springs BART station or to another BART station.

Jeff said...

What about this CalTrain Metro East plan to expand CalTrain instead of BART?

It seems like it would be a lot less expensive.

Lowell Grattan said...

Lets take a look at the VTA Vision and Mission statement.
I would say they operating clearly in violation.

Anonymous said...

Gonzo signed a back room deal with BART to gain entry into their build queue ahead of already promised Livermore and other extensions. The deal promised $12M a quarter as soon as BART started up operations crossing the County Line. That has sinced morphed to $10M a month in the current VTA spend plan scenario - seen in the March 2nd Board Packet on vta.org
With the proposed new County tax bringing in $163M a year - according to the 28FEB SCC BOD Mtg. agenda item 78 first attachment - where is the $120M "subscription fee" to BART going to come from? The County was hoping to net half of the additional tax so it looks like another $40M shortfall to the County to add to their current $111M shortfall.
Shortfall numbers change but the fact of sending $2.7B out of the County for something that doesn't feed riders into the local transit grid but only results in further dismantling of it is repugnent. VTA continues to reduce bus service when it is provided more than enough dedicated transit tax money to run y2k levels of service. Why? Where is all of the transit money being spent?

Arthur said...

Hello guys, I am new here.

One way for BART or any other light rail or heavy rail system to attract more "choice riders" is to build high rise condominiums or apartments adjacent to thier stations. Because choice riders are more likely to ride any mode of mass transit in large, highly dense populated cities or metropolitan areas than smaller or low density cities or metropolitan areas.

And just to inform you all that Atlanta, GA is smaller than San Jose, CA in both population and land area, and has a lower average population density of about 3,100 persons per square mile within a land area of 132 Square miles compared with about 5,100 persons per square mile with 174 square miles for San Jose. I just don't get it how Atlanta has a heavy rail system for the past 27 years, while the larger and more densely populated San Jose doesn't have one, but a light rail system. Unlike the San Jose Metropolitan area, there isn't another huge metropolitan area near the Greater Atlanta Area. The proposed BART would connect the two huge metropolitan areas(The East Bay with South Bay or Santa Clara Metro Area) each have a population of more than a million.

You can visit the APTA, US Census Bureau and other demographic websites to possibly interpret how each local transit agency's rapid transit systems works along with thier bus routes. And I'll dig up more information on MARTA's metrorail and BART.

Anonymous said...

Arthur, perhaps you don't realize that San Jose can't build skyscrapers due to the proximity of the airport. see for example

San Jose also has a high water table, which makes constructing basements costly and difficult.

San Jose also has vocal neighborhood groups that oppose density.

I'm familiar with Atlanta, though I haven't lived there in 10 years. Atlanta has skyscrapers. It also has lots of low-density suburban development like San Jose, but there is more of a hub to Atlanta than San Jose in terms of top job destinations, so it is easier to serve in a spoke and wheel pattern. In San Jose, most suburban San Joseans don't work downtown.

Finally, MARTA has had major financial problems for years, and when I rode it, it was unreliable. It appears to continue to suffer from frequent breakdowns, and hardly seems to be the system that San Jose wants to emulate.

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