Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Clear cut fraudulent BART ridership projection (part 2)

Richard Mlynarik has provided a great analysis with the new ridership projection from VTA for the BART extension. You can enjoy a quick aerial photo tour of the proposed BART stations in the South Bay with actual stations in San Francisco and Berkeley, and see how out of touch VTA is.

From VTA Presentation Slide 13:

2025 projection:
Montague/Capitol 19247
Berryessa 6537
Alum Rock 9115
Civic Plaza/SJSU 6236
Market Street 17866
Diridon/Arena 9667
Santa Clara 14919
Total (7 stations) 83587

2030 projection (25% increase):
Montague/Capitol 31067
Berryessa 7931
Alum Rock 10639
Downtown San Jose [combined stop] 23439
Diridon/Arena 11209
Santa Clara 19842
Total (6 stations) 104127

Current exits in Downtown San Francisco:
Montgomery 31276
Embarcadero 31584
Powell 23272
Civic Center 18463

Now VTA is not only applying the ridership numbers from Downtown San Francisco to Downtown San Jose, but in Milpitas as well. So far, Milpitas isn't planning to become another Downtown San Francisco. Is VTA expecting a huge percentage of that ridership to transfer to and from light rail on their way to the Golden Triangle? If that is the case, shouldn't VTA be supporting ACE/Caltrain Metro East instead since it will serve the Golden Triangle directly without having to transfer?

For a more apples to apples like comparison, the ridership projection for Milpitas, Diridon, and Santa Clara stations should not be too different than Balboa Park, Richmond, and Millbrae. They are all non-downtown stations but with rail connections. We also shouldn't forget that Muni Fast Pass holders get to ride BART free within San Francisco, where Balboa Park is the City's southern most station.

Balboa Park 12251
Richmond 3251
Millbrae 3349

As expected, the projected ridership numbers are clearly meant to deceive.


Anonymous said...

What are the ridership projections for conventional rail stations in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties under the "Caltrain Metro East" idea, which VTA Watch supports instead of BART?

How do "Caltrain Metro East" ridership projections compare with current usage of conventional rail stations in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties? Are the projected growth rates consistent with historic trends?

Who devlops "Caltrain Metro East" ridership projections for conventional rail stations in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties? Are the projections sanctioned by conventional rail operators/sponsors in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties, i.e. Caltrain/VTA, CCJPA, SJRRC/ACTIA; by other government agencies; or...?

accountablevta said...

If VTA is truly interested in pursuing a cost-effective solution, then VTA (or other interested agencies like MTC) should produce a ridership projection for Caltrain Metro East and let everyone see and judge.

If VTA supposedly has the resource and the know how to produce a ridership projection for BART and claims it is accurate, VTA should have no problem to make a fair projection for Caltrain Metro East. The only question is whether they want to.

Anonymous said...

My questions were a (deliberate) trap.

The same people who developed the BART ridership projections that VTA Watch objects to also developed ridership projections for conventional rail.

Alternative 3. 60 to 80 ACE trains a day. Infrastructure upgrades to permit a speed of 90 MPH. Integration with other conventional rail services. Projected weekday ridership in 2025: 27,500.

Alternative 5. Brand-new conventional rail line instead of BART. Headways as low as 15 minutes. Projected weekday ridership in 2025: 26,000.

The conventional rail alternatives did worse than everything else, including express bus service, bus rapid transit, light rail, and BART.

Even if we chop the BART projection in half, it still exceeds the two conventional rail projections by a healthy margin.

Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor Major Investment Study (MIS). 2001.

Now here's the kicker -- precisely the reason I asked VTA Watch to consider the views of other financial stakeholders, like ACTIA...

On Monday, among other changes, there was an increase in conventional rail service between the following stations:
- Oakland Jack London Square
- Oakland Coliseum (direct transfer to Colisum/Oakland Airport BART Station)
- Hayward
- Fremont/Centerville
- Great America (direct transfer to Lick Mill Light Rail Station)
- San Jose (Diridon)
There are now 7 weekday round-trips, scheduled attractively.

"While the new trains will make commuting between Oakland and San Jose easier, it [sic] will not be a substitute for a planned extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit's Fremont line, said Christine Monsen, executive director of the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority.

"'I would look at that as more of a Band-Aid when we really need surgery,' Monsen said. 'People that are making that commute and are desperate will take Capitol Corridor, but it doesn't provide the flexibility that we're used to (with BART).'"

"Amtrak to start more trains to San Jose". Oakland Tribune. August 28, 2006.

There are good reasons why "Caltrain Metro East" had not earned the support of public agencies.

accountablevta said...

The MIS study was done in 2001, under the full bias for BART and against everything else. A reason that BART appeared to achieve higher ridership was largely due to the unrealistic growth assumed in Downtown San Jose, where every inch of land there would be occupied by 20-story high rises.

And the new conventional line studied by the MIS doesn't even connect to the Diridon station.

Four years after the MIS, VTA came up some new (phony)assumptions that boosted the BART ridership projection despite having gone through a huge economic downturn. VTA has probably done so after a few phone calls from Gonzales or Guardino in an attempt to deceive the feds.

Caltrain Metro East is neither of these proposals, and VTA was never fair. VTA can always come up with some short-changed scenarios that supposely reflect what non-BART rail advocates wanted, but actually it is more like putting words in their mouths. VTA could be fair, but it doesn't want to be fair.

In regards to the new Capitol Corridor and Amtrak trains, it is obviously isn't enough. It is a band-aid, but the surgery suggested (BART) will do more harm than good. The Warms Springs extension, which is supposed to be funded by the Alameda County, has been short of funds for many years and has not been able to justify the project on its own merit.

The worst part of the Warm Springs Extension is that it relies on the operating surplus generated from the SFO BART Extension, which has never happened. No wonder why some BART supporters are against non-BART rail improvements so much. They need those monies to backfill the surplus.

Anonymous said...

The 60 to 80-train ACE-style option -- the more favorable of the conventional rail alternatives -- did include service to San Jose Diridon Station. Projected weekday ridership in 2025 was 27,500. This would be very respectable for a conventional rail service with relatively poor station locations (we've been through that before: Alameda County's conventional rail stations are farther from the action than its BART stations) and a branch to an outlying, low-density, non-transit-friendly area (San Joaquin County).

The BART extension projection for 2025 was 87,200 in the MIS. Let's say it was "fraudulent", as VTA Watch alleges, and chop it by half. Or even by two thirds. It would still beat conventional rail!

And no, no one is against reasonable non-BART rail improvements. Those improvements are already happening:

- 4th ACE train, introduced this week (not quite "reasonable", since 35% of the seats on the first three trains are empty, but let's run with it anyway)
- 7 daily Capitol Corridor round trips extended to San Jose, introduced this week
- Caltrain CEMOF, under construction
- Conventional rail station adjacent to Union City BART Station, approved last week (first stage)
- 10 daily Caltrain round trips extended to Gilroy, in planning stage, has high political importance within VTA
- Dumbarton project, in planning stage, has some political support on both sides of the Bay

(It is true that these improvements are not exactly what "Caltrain Metro East" supporters want. For example, conventional rail-to-BART transfers will occur in Union City rather than in Fremont.)

Remember that BART already carries 330,000 people on a average weekday. All Bay Area conventional rail services put together carry a fraction of that number. Conventional rail has attracted far more operating and capital dollars, and far more political support, than one would expect.

If I were you, I'd quit whining about alleged BART "fraud" and be thankful for the level of support that conventional rail has achieved.

One final question about ridership projections and fraud: Exactly how many passengers do "Caltrain Metro East" supporters project for the central/eastern portion of San Jose? Whereas BART attempts to serve this dense, low-income area, "Caltrain Metro East" bypasses it completely. I'd call it fraud to bypass an area that has such a strong need for good transit.

Nick said...

This BART extension would only have one staion in the most transit Dependent Neighborhood in Santa Clara County. The extension would would also not serve other poor transit dependent neighborhoods such As East San Jose or South Downtown San Jose (around Keys St).

This station (Alum Rock) has poor connections to the buisiest bus line (VTA Line 22) in the county. Proposed stations in Downtown San Jose are being combined/moved to cut costs, serving even less destinations. Also ask this: How many people in this transit dependent neighborhood are headed to the East Bay, Diridon Station, or Santa Clara? Most people in that neighborhood travel locally on Line 22 along that line to get to light Rail on 1st/2nd St, East San Jose or other Bus Lines. Most transit riders in Santa Clara County travel within the county on VTA.

Caltrain Metro East is better than BART because it would be cheaper than BART and leave money over for needed Projects like Light Rail on Santa Clara Street and Capitol Expressway between Diridon and Eastridge, linking some of the most transit dependent neighborhoods in the county. It would also leave money to expand Light Rail further down Capitol Expressway to the Guadalupe line, extend light rail into Los Gatos, establish bus Rapid Transit on the Busy line 68 and line 23, expand and electrify Caltrain, expand ACE and Capitol Corridor Service, build a people mover for the San Jose Airport,add real time arrival info, and expanded suttle service.

All these projects can't be completed, at least not soon enough if we waste money to build BART. What the South Bay really needs is a comprehensive and effcient transit system; something it doesn't have now but needs, but BART is not the answer.

accountablevta said...

The other important point that is not mentioned is cost effectiveness. If budget is not an issue, we could build a BART subway (or high speed rail for that matter) down every street.

VTA has failed to demostrate that BART is a cost effective project. The federal government has given a "not-recommended" rating to the project for years in a row. What would be the motive for VTA to increase its ridership projections years later and is seeking new taxes at the same time?

VTA Watch can't let this fraud go on and not report it like it is. If the BART-to-SFO experience is repeated again, which is very likely, the victims would be everyday transit riders and taxpayers.

accountablevta said...

It is important to note that half of current BART ridership is transbay. That means there's limited highway capacity and a toll to drive. No other rail operators cross the bay to San Francisco.

And that's why it is wrong to assume the same ridership level would apply in San Jose. Downtown San Jose is not a major employment center, and can be accessed by two freeways from the East Bay. The same motivation for East Bay riders to SF does not exist.

Anonymous said...

RE: "Downtown San Jose is not a major employment center, and can be accessed by two freeways from the East Bay. The same motivation for East Bay riders to SF does not exist."

Maybe not in downtown, but there's a lot of companies down here. I work at a tech company on Tasman. Coworkers that live on the peninsula take caltrain to light rail or the company shuttle (depending on how close their building is to a light rail stop). I live in the east bay and drive the 880 traffic to work. It's horrible, takes an hour and a half, the same as it does driving into sf during rush hour. With the BART extension I would take BART to light rail or my company's shuttle. There currently is a company shuttle that goes directly to the fremont bart station, but that takes 40 minutes because of traffic. With a stop in milpitas the shuttle or light rail would take 10 minutes.

accountablevta said...

Since you said you don't work downtown, then what is the point of spending $4-5 billion for a subway in downtown San Jose?

Could a light rail extension to Fremont an equal substitute, since you will have to transfer to light rail anyway?

No one agrues the need to transit, but the so call "transit advocates" at SVLG assert that people will only ride BART and not any other transit (light rail, Caltrain, buses, etc), yet BART will not come anywhere near where the employees work.

Also, the SVLG folks will continue lobby more freeway expansions between Fremont and San Jose, and VTA is more than happy to widen these. On the other hand, there's no highway solution between East Bay and San Francisco. There's no way to widen the Bay Bridge, and there's no political support to build a new bridge.

railgirrrl said...

ACE takes less than 20 minutes to go from the Fremont station to the Santa Clara Great America stop. It's not like BART would be any faster. If your destination were SJ station, or the airport, then Caltrain Metro East would be way faster for you than BART.

MikeOnBike said...

railgirrrl said... "ACE takes less than 20 minutes to go from the Fremont station to the Santa Clara Great America stop. It's not like BART would be any faster."

No, it won't. Also, ACE takes 22 minutes between Pleasanton to Fremont. BART takes 38 to 42, including a required transfer at Bay Fair. Miss the transfer and add 15 minutes. (Been there, done that.)

So ACE's route today is already much faster to Silicon Valley than BART can ever be.

ACE's current limitations (frequency, etc.) could be fixed for a fraction of the cost of BART.

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