Friday, February 17, 2006

VTA basic PR screwup

VTA once again failed to timely notify a major construction project that would affect thousands of passengers.

The downtown station platform retrofit has been planned for the last five years, even appeared with a wooden mock up, after the passage of the 2000 Measure A and VTA's subsequent purchase of additional low floor vehicles to replace the high floor fleet. Despite years of planning, the public was told in less than two weeks to prepare for the temporary closure of two downtown stations as long as 10 months. As of Friday night, VTA still hasn't post anything on its website regarding the station closures.

One of the two light rail stations to be closed serves the San Jose State University. Thousands of students take light rail to avoid high parking fees and the shortage of parking spaces on campus. Despite what some of students suggest in the Mercury article, many more students may decide not to take light rail and drive instead.

A related issue that the Mercury article did not discuss is whether this project is necessary. With a mini-high platform, VTA's light rail is currently in full compliance with American with Disabilities Act and offers level boarding for wheelchair passengers without operator assistance. The only quantifiable benefit is the saving in dwell time, however small it appears to be, of cutting one step for all other passengers. Does it worth 8 to 10 months of constructions and millions of dollars in costs, along with impacts to the downtown community and the students at San Jose State? It looks like another collateral damage from the 2000 Measure A.

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Bonus: The other permanent damage caused by the downtown platform retrofit is that the transfers between light rail and buses would be made less convenient. Due to ADA and other reasons, the high platform would be extended almost to the street curb where the bus stops are now. Because these high platforms would not allow buses to make safe boarding and to use the wheelchair lift or ramp, the bus stops would have to be relocated away further from the light rail stop. Way to go to increase transit ridership at VTA!

2 comments:

Jamison said...

"Despite years of planning, the public was told in less than two weeks to prepare for the temporary closure of two downtown stations..."

We experienced the same thing here in San Francisco this year when we were given less than two weeks notice that the Muni Metro subway would be closing by 10:00pm for the next year. Do you sometimes get the impression our transit agencies don't get people actually are dependent on their service?

accountablevta said...

I don't think that they even understand the passengers. Although the San Antonio station is only one block apart from Santa Clara station, the atmosphere at Santa Clara appears to be much less safe and comfortable, because it is a hangout for certain groups of people. This is a fact that the people at VTA, which they always sit in their office at 3331 North First Street fail to realize.