Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June update

Here are the reasons why relocating the bus stops north of Santa Clara Street (pushed by Downtown Association) is a bad idea:

The two pictures above illustrate that the new bus stop on First Street north of Santa Clara Street cannot fit two buses without intruding into the crosswalk on First Street, obstructing the view of pedestrian signals and creating an unsafe situation. Since this stop is served by four bus routes, if three or more buses arrive, some of the buses would block the entire crosswalk and intrude onto Santa Clara Street.

On Second Street, the bus stop north of Santa Clara Street is served by southbound lines 72 and 73, which interestingly, the northbound bus stop is located south of Santa Clara Street. From this bus stop, the next southbound bus stop is four blocks away on San Fernando Street by 5th Street, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

On the other hand, within the same few blocks, there are three additional northbound bus stops for lines 72 and 73 located on San Fernando by Third, San Fernando by First, and First Street south of Santa Clara Street. Too many bus stops for northbound and not enough bus stops for the southbound.


Here's another reason why city shuttles should not replace large buses: The low capacity shuttles can easily get overcrowded and thus create a hazard for riders. Last week, a teenager in Palo Alto fell out of a shuttle bus through the wheelchair lift door. Apparently, the wheelchair lift was not installed and the shuttle was packed.

Palo Alto shuttle isn't the only shuttle that gets overcrowded. The DASH shuttle in Downtown San Jose can get overcrowded when San Jose State is in session. Last year, a sudden shuttle overcrowding in Half Moon Bay (San Mateo County) prompted SamTrans to temporarily put additional shuttles and rerouted its only large bus route in the area to better serve the students.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

BART plans to screw Caltrain connection to SFO

After the bitter divorce between BART and SamTrans over the SFO extension, BART is proposing to enhance service south of Daly City.

As a part of the proposal, to be voted by the BART Board of Directors on June 14, the Millbrae station would receive mainline service from San Francisco bypassing the SFO station. During weekday and Saturday daytime, Richmond line would serve Millbrae. At other times, the Dublin line would serve Millbrae. The SFO station would be served by the Pittsburg line at all times.

The proposed plan is almost like the original operating pattern in 2003 when the extension first opened for service. BART discontinued that pattern because of the lack of ridership and SamTrans had to pay for the operating shortfall on the extension.

What was not mentioned in the press release is the service between SFO and Millbrae. Through various sources, VTA Watch has confirmed that BART is planning NOT to have a direct service between SFO and Millbrae. Passengers traveling between these two stations would have to transfer at the San Bruno station. The BART station in San Bruno is located one mile north of the San Bruno Caltrain station.

Before 2003, the connection between Caltrain and SFO was provided by a free shuttle that met most trains and made stops at all airline terminals. Since then, passengers have to pay a $1.50 fare for a one station ride on BART to the International Terminal. The proposed plan would still require passengers to pay but would also force them to make an additional transfer. The BART extension was partly sold as an improvement for the Caltrain riders heading to the airport, but that promise was never fulfilled.

SamTrans, however, is not promising whether it can provide any alternative service (like restoring the shuttle bus) for the Caltrain riders heading to SFO. SamTrans is still in a bad financial shape after divorcing from BART and gave up its share of Prop. 1b transit funds. SamTrans is currently demanding payment from San Francisco and Santa Clara counties for the purchase of the Caltrain right of way from Southern Pacific in 1991, which SamTrans fronted the local funding in full. VTA is balking its obligation to SamTrans and Caltrain while dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the San Jose BART extension consultant blackhole.