Saturday, May 16, 2009

My commute sucks...no thanks to SVLG

Transportation 4 America unveiled mycommutesucks.org, a web site that allows riders to express their transit experience. This is an important year as Congress will be taking action on the next federal transportation bill, which would provide billions for various transportation projects.

Guess who is in favor of cutting Caltrain service? Of course SVLG. SVLG often implies that no other taxes other than for BART could pass, but people in the North Bay and in LA suggested otherwise. Not only SVLG has done nothing to address the short term and long term funding needs for Caltrain and other transit, SVLG in the past recommended to slash funding for Caltrain and paratransit. Both are all on the chopping block this year.

With the broken budget process and SVLG's influence on corporate tax cuts from Sacramento, things will have to get much worse before it gets better. The propositions (except Prop 1F) in the upcoming special election deserve to be defeated.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of LA, the total unlinked trip ridership on the rail system is 293,000, over three quarters that of BART on a smaller system made up mostly of light rail. Just the single 17.5 mile heavy rail line has 151,000 trips, almost half that of BART's 100 mile system. I suspect that after the opening of the Eastside and Expo lines in LA, the LACMTA will overtake BART as California's busiest rail system. Not that I expect this to change BART's delusions of grandeur in any way.

train said...

Anonymous:

So you're saying we should concentrate our region's transportation funds on the most densely populated areas similar to what LA did with their heavy rail. That would mean putting more subway miles and/or stations in downtown SF, downtown Oakland or downtown San Jose. Sounds to me like the central subway project in SF and a subway under market street in SJ.... Don't think you're going to win over vta watch, who only believes in funding caltrain, which he uses. And I see why he feels that way. If you live on the peninsula you get no benefit from expensive subways in populated areas. You don't benefit from anything other than what you use. You just complain when the funds go to other projects.

accountablevta said...

Expo and the Eastside lines are light rail. Unlike the VTA's, these lines will have a greater potential to draw ridership.

Density in downtown San Jose is nowhere close to LA, and will never be as long as the airplanes from SJC still fly over downtown. So whatever "success" a subway line in San Jose will be like the "success" of VTA's light rail. As for the Central Subway in SF, the project was so value engineered that it no longer make sense. Under the current plan, the station will be way too deep and will take too much time for people to get in and out of the station. However, San Francisco still needs better transit service. Some of the SF districts are more deserving for a BART line than downtown San Jose.

Actually the most urgent problem today is operating cost. It is a problem caused in part by Sacramento's failure. SVLG is also the blame because it sponsors corporate tax cuts during the budget crisis.

Anonymous said...

I was really just more interested in the how this changes the North/South dynamic. It used to be that the Bay Area had rail transit while LA had none, or more recently only a fairly small and lightly used system. But in a couple years, ridership will catch up, and a few more years after that, when the Wilshire line opens, it will surpass BART, and may well become the example of a California rail transit system, given that it will probably have better service too. LACMTA will be the agency with the shiny new system, while BART deals with aging infrastructure, a capacity crunch, and various legacies of mistakes in the system's planning and design.

So what can we learn from the LA Metro? One thing is that more frequent stop spacing is generally better, in LA's case generally around 1 mile. A system composed of urban heavy rail subway lines and light rail lines can work well together. That the path to high ridership is serving dense and transit-dependent neighborhoods rather than far-flung suburbs, and that this results in a strong base of ridership even in the off-peaks. In VTA terms, this means DTEV should have been the first light rail corridor, and should be the current priority rather than the BART extension.

accountablevta said...

The other thing that made LA works is that besides the technical differences (and construction cost), the red/purple lines are the same as the green/blue/gold lines, as well as the orange line. Passengers pay fares the same way, they all ran about same frequency, and the same pass works for all lines.

Here, BART and Muni run on Market Street but charges different fares. With few exceptions, the same tickets/passes don't work.

arcady said...

LA still has some amount of problems with Metro versus muni bus service, with some significant chunks of the county getting most of their bus service from a municipal operator. But it's still less of a mess than rail, and you can get a pass that covers most operators, and buy transfers between different operators too. The rail system is much more integrated, with urban rail all being Metrorail and commuter rail being Metrolink (which, despite the name, is not run by Metro). Santa Clara County is actually pretty good on this front: pretty much everything's VTA, and a Zone 3-4 pass covers Caltrain and VTA within the county (and SamTrans too). Translink promises to at least provide a unified fare medium across all the systems, if not necessarily joint passes. Speaking of which, do you have any idea as to the status of Translink? I know it's in service on Golden Gate, AC Transit, and Muni, and coming very soon to BART. What about VTA, Caltrain and SamTrans?

Anonymous said...

I knew Carl Guardino (of SVLG fame) when he lived in Mt. View. He was always supportive of CalTrain and a reasonable, smart guy. What changed? Is his change of views simply a vendetta against Greg Perry who we know he doesn't like? Or did he think with Gonzales out of the picture he would take credit for the BART train coming.

accountablevta said...

I think he's just a corporate lobbyist out of touch of those who rely on transit. The obvious folks who would back the BART project are the real estate/development interest and the construction/consulting lobby. Interestingly it will be the same group of people who will financially benefit if HSR or Caltrain Metro East were to be built.

Guardino may have expertise in commissioning polls and craft measures to appeal voters, but ultimately these things don't benefit those who need to take the bus and paratransit daily. Instead, he will use these polls to argue that these programs should be defunded because somehow they're not popular with voters, and somehow twist "voter mandate" as a reason to cut vital programs.

Carl Guardino is basically the Silicon Valley's version of Karl Rove.