Tuesday, October 10, 2006

VTA Watch grades local transit

In light of the APTA convention in San Jose this week, VTA Watch would like to grade our local transit like Carl Guardino, John McLemore, Stuart Cohen, and Eugene Bradley that have appeared on Gary Richard's column.

After years of fare increases and service reductions, VTA should review and streamline the bus system to increase speed and convenience, while maintaining essential service to low-income communities. To be a sustainable agency, VTA should focus on making a system that is rider-oriented. VTA can't simply build more poorly planned rail lines that would attract riders far lower than advertised. VTA therefore deserves a C.

Caltrain on the other hand, has invented itself in the last two years with relatively little resources. For most part, Caltrain has been politically neglected. Many politicians, as well as groups like SVLG, believe that more funding should be diverted to building more BART than improving Caltrain. However, despite over a billion dollars have been spent on extending BART from Colma to Millbrae, the BART SFO extension has seen a 0.2% increase in ridership in August from last year, while Caltrain has seen a 13.4% increase.

Caltrain has many challenges. Caltrain can become a more efficient service with a more modern rolling stock. Caltrain needs to be more accessible for passengers in wheelchairs and in bicycles. Caltrain also should not continue to rely on diesel fuel, due to fluctuating fuel prices and pollution. Caltrain therefore deserves a B+.

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