Friday, May 30, 2008

Another VTA meeting on long range transportation plan

VTA has prepared a draft program EIR on the Long Range Transportation Plan and is asking for public input. This plan is more or less a homework document which will allow VTA to obtain state and federal grants for various projects. As such, VTA is doing the minimum necessary on public outreach in a relatively short notice.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
St. James Senior Center - Room 5
199 N. 3rd Street, San Jose

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Around Downtown San Jose

A 1992 Flxible bus was assigned to the 168 route. This bus kept its original paint scheme which dated back before the formation of VTA in 1996. Most of the buses from that year have already repainted to the current paint scheme. One would wonder why this bus got assigned to the 168 even though this bus does not have padded seats.

A poster was displayed on a window at the VTA customer service center on 1st and Santa Clara shamelessly promoting the ill conceived 2000 Measure A. Of course, the poster itself was placed probably more as a privacy measure than as a promotion.

The image showing Caltrain improvement was taken from BayRail Alliance's web site, which also happens to be one of the major opponents of the 2000 Measure A.

A McDonald's ad in Hindi on a VTA bus.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May tidbits: BART and more

BART - Transit system of the 60s

Last Thursday, with all the good reasons to use public transportation (Bike to Work Day and Spare the Air Day), BART failed to deliver with systemwide delays of 45 minutes. BART blamed the delay on old equipment that couldn't stand the heat. The delay wasn't limited to the original system built over 35 years ago. It also impacted the overpriced SFO extension which was opened five years ago. Should VTA spend billions on a transit system that can't stand the heat?

AC Transit joins Google Transit

With AC Transit on the Google Transit, along with VTA, Caltrain, BART and Muni, you could plan a trip on transit from West Valley College in Saratoga to Ohlone College in Fremont. Unfortunately it takes several transfers to complete the trip.

Megabus leaving California

Citing that ridership didn't grow as fast as anticipated, Megabus will discontinue service on California in June. The company, however, is expanding service to the East Coast, which is a very competitive market with a number of large and small intercity bus operators.

With less than a year in operation, Megabus has yet establish familiarity despite the fact that it received a lot of positive reviews from its riders. Perhaps Megabus simply doesn't have the patience to develop the California market. Other services such as Capitol Corridor and Highway 17 Express has seen ridership increases year after year partly because of their willingness to sustain the service and establish the identity, rather than quitting when riders in California don't come in as fast as they do in New York.

Because of that, public operators had to come in to fill the gap left by private operators in certain corridors. Before the establishment of Monterey-Salinas Transit line 55 in 2006, which goes from downtown Monterey to downtown San Jose, there was no Greyhound or Amtrak feeder bus service between these two cities for over a year. A new law was required for MST to provide the service with funding from the state (for Amtrak feeder service). The private operators fought tooth and nail against it, even though they were unwilling to provide a service that MST wanted to do.

There are still options for bus travel between the South Bay and Southern California without Megabus:
Greyhound - Depot in downtown San Jose
USAsia - Cupertino to Monterey Park
Xe Do Hoang - San Jose to LA

What will be missing is the $1 fare on some seats.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

First post COA ridership report card comes in

Attached with the May Transit Planning and Operations Committee agenda is the 2008 FYTD third quarter transit operation performance report. It basically covers the ridership trend from July last year until the end of March of this year.

Key numbers:

Bus ridership - 4.2% increase over the same time period last year.
- For the last half of 2007, bus ridership increased 3.5% over the same period from last year.
- Since the implementation of the new routes on January 14, bus ridership increased 4.6% over the same period from last year.

Light rail ridership - 1.4% increase over the same time period last year.

Farebox recovery - 13.9%, 0.2% point more than last year, despite fare reduction on day passes and monthly passes for youth and seniors/disabled that was implemented last September.

In the back of the report are weekday ridership numbers and boardings for revenue hours on each bus and light rail route.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

MTC Transportation 2035 workshop tonight

MTC is seeking input on its regional Transportation 2035 plan at a workshop scheduled for tonight in San Jose:

Martin Luther King Library, Room 225, 2nd Floor
150 E. San Fernando Street, San Jose
Thursday, May 8, 2008 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Additional MTC workshops are scheduled throughout the Bay Area during the month of May.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Driving on the light rail track

After almost 20 years, some people, whether they're confused or drunk, ended up driving on the light rail track in downtown San Jose. This video was captured by a passenger late at night on 2nd Street at Santa Clara station.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Extra buses on route 168

According to an onboard take-one card, VTA has added extra buses on line 168 to meet passenger demand. These buses will supplement the 6:24 am and 6:54 am departures from Morgan Hill to Downtown San Jose.

The ridership on this line has increased steadily over the last few months as commuters are becoming familiar with the service and because of rising gas prices. Even so, some riders are still confused between the 168 and the regular 68. It is not unusual to see someone boarding the express bus even though they actually want the local bus.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Impacts of FTA charter bus rule changes

The FTA's new charter bus rule already has an impact in the Bay Area:

  1. In Concord, the shuttle connecting between BART and the Sleep Train Pavilion is not longer free. Before the new ruling, the Pavilion management subsidized the shuttle. Passengers now has to pay the regular bus fare, but in an effort keep the passengers, the Pavilion staff will give coupons for free soft drinks to shuttle riders.

  2. For the Bay to Breakers footrace on May 18, SamTrans will charge $4 one way/$8 roundtrip for its special service to the event. The fare is the same as its regular express bus fare to and from San Francisco. Last year, SamTrans charged $12 round trip for the same service. On the other hand, it is not clear at this point what measures Muni will take to make its Bay to Breakers service compliant with the new ruling.