December 2017 brought a demonstrator bus to AC Transit for trial runs on its Transbay services. The demo unit, built by Motor Coach Industries, has two doors, solo seats, and a lower level to accommodate wheelchairs far more easily than the current MCI buses operated by AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, and Soltrans, among others. The MCI D45 CRT LE fuses the luxury of a high-floored commuter coach with the ease of boarding of a low-floored transit bus towards the center, with a total of 55 seats (3 seats on the bottom, rest on top, with up to 8 solo seats) and can easily load up to 35 standees (provided no wheelchairs are on board).
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.