Appeared on February's VTA Take One newsletter is the announcement that VTA is starting planning work for the new carpool lanes in 880 between Milpitas and San Jose.
With the latest segment between Fremont Blvd and Dixon Landing Road opened last November, the carpool lanes now exist on I-880 between San Leandro to Milpitas. VTA has proposed to reroute the 181 to operate only on I-880 between Fremont and San Jose in July, which would allow buses on the new carpool lanes and not having to switch freeways. However, the major drawback is that VTA needs to identify a park and ride lot along the route for those who want to drive to the bus.
Before 2003, the I-880 between Milpitas and San Jose only had 2 lanes in each direction, which was unusually narrow. Because of the chronic congestion in both directions, 180 buses often rerouted onto Old Oakland Road. Even with the new lanes opened in 2003, the congestion came back eventually. Today, while the northbound 181 buses can run at full speed on the freeway in the afternoon, the congestion in the other direction can still require southbound buses to use Old Oakland Road.
Does it make sense for VTA to spend funds to widen the same freeway again even though it claims to have enough funds (by shortchanging transit projects elsewhere) to build BART to Berryessa? Because of the way VTA segregates transit and highway funds, it is virtually impossible for a transit project to replace a highway project, even through it has occurred elsewhere. Even with light rail in the freeway median, VTA still managed to build new carpool lanes that parallel light rail. VTA's segregation of funds and continuing support for more freeway expansions has and will undercut transit.