Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority announced in early 2017 that it was ordering all-electric buses to bring the transit agency into the 21st century. It has then ordered five Proterra 40-footer all-electric buses, seating 40 passengers, space up to two wheelchairs, and additional folding seats (4) for strollers and folding wheeled baskets. With its claims that the buses have a 21 mpg (electric), can do a fast recharge for 10 minutes at a transit stop, run up to 200 miles in one charge (and can be fully recharged up to 8 hours overnight), and have a lifetime rating of 650,000 miles, the Proterra buses promise a transformation of public transportation offerings in Santa Clara County.
In part one of this new series, I have been asking myself whether an automobile link is possible between the two communities via a road connection. Even though the distance is roughly 1,100 feet, I interviewed the Planning Managers for both Redwood City and Foster City (which I will cover in part 3), in which they told me that the cost would be roughly $25,000,000, and it may be difficult to secure the necessary permits to build that bridge. Despite such challenges though, I am looking at developing this bridge as an opportunity, not just to address the congestion concerns along US-101, but also provide SamTrans with an option to develop a more robust and well-connected bus service between the two communities and beyond. In Part 2, I will cover how this bridge can become an instrument to developing a stronger transportation network at the local level -- the regional context will be handled later on.
Suburban communities have been developed to give residents quiet locations to live and thrive, away from the hustle and bustle of city centers. Time and time again, such communities have been built with roads with fine curvatures and "stems and branches" designed to maximize the privacy found in individual neighborhoods. However, an unintended consequence of suburban development is that sometimes, when planners want to develop new services to serve nearby neighborhoods, chances are gaps can be found between them. Sometimes, such gaps can result in long drives or walking distances just to get from one place to another that, if we take it from a bird's eye view, it would only take a few seconds to cross from one property to another. How can such planning mistakes be rectified, especially if we aim to address various issues governing accessibility, congestion, and connectivity?
In this series, I am going to explore a short, yet missing crucial link that could address congestion in a corner of San Mateo County, linking Foster City and Redwood Shores.
Last night, I reviewed VTA's Next Network plan again and recalled that two lines within the City of Palo Alto, Lines 88 and 89, were to be eliminated due to low ridership. The VTA then came with a solution to develop Line 288, a school day-only service operating mostly within the current Line 88. However, given that Caltrain will expand weekday service to California Avenue station, I thought to myself: how should the VTA take advantage of that service expansion and, hopefully, gain even more passengers?
In 2017, Marin Transit is committed further to reducing carbon emissions by displacing its oldest buses in its fleet and replacing them with electric buses. As early as November 2016, the transit agency persuaded the Marin County Board of Supervisors to purchase two BYD all-electric, 35-footer buses worth $1.527 million, in which it will have a slow-charging mechanism just like a regular Tesla car. The Board unanimously approved the plan, in which deliveries will take place by December 2017.
With every large transportation agency, evolution and change are the major constants. Not only because planners have to consider the population shifts in the areas they serve, but also because communities evolve in terms of housing and job opportunities. The case of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's (Santa Clara VTA) Next Network program provides a testament to the ever evolving shifts in transportation and urban planning, in which there will indeed be winners and losers in terms of having quality public transportation. This story, however, focuses on one of the main losers of the Next Network program, Almaden Valley in San Jose, and how I want to address that issue first hand.
Geneva Avenue is a major arterial road linking neighborhoods as the Excelsior, Crocker-Amazon, and Sunnydale in southeastern San Francisco. However, its role in the eyes of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority is as a major transit corridor, which takes advantage of the medium-density commercial and high-density residential structures lining the thoroughfare. SFMTA's short-term goal for Geneva Avenue is to convert it into a bus rapid transit corridor, similar to what is being done along Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard, with a long-term vision of converting it into a light rail corridor. The question I have in mind for Geneva Avenue is, how much time and money are needed to upgrade one of the city's busiest thoroughfares into a transit-friendly corridor?