Mountain View Voice

Opinion - November 8, 2013

Bus Rapid Transit options still being studied

by Margaret Abe-Koga

There's been quite a bit of traffic on neighborhood email listservs regarding the Bus Rapid Transit project along the El Camino Real corridor, and I wanted to clarify some information and address some concerns.

First, I want to make clear that no final decision has been made about how the future bus rapid transit system will operate along El Camino Real. VTA is currently studying the impacts of seven project alternatives that emerged after an initial round of public meetings held in 2012. The alternatives cover a range of possible projects — from making no improvements to the transit system to installing 14.1 miles of dedicated bus lanes from Embarcadero Road to Lafayette Street along El Camino Real. Though dedicated lanes were not embraced by every city along the corridor, I supported studying its impacts and benefits as that information is crucial to providing an accurate comparison to the other project alternatives, using various criteria like how smoothly traffic will flow, transit usage, traffic impacts, and cost.

The goals of BRT are clear: to improve reliability, travel times, amenities, safety and access for the 15,000 daily weekday riders (Route 522 and 22 combined) that take VTA bus service to work, school, and appointments on El Camino Real; and to accommodate the demand that future growth will put on our road network by providing solutions that make non-auto modes like public transit and bicycling more appealing. This will be a benefit to auto users as well as non-auto users.

In an effort to decrease greenhouse gases and improve mobility, many cities along El Camino Real, including Mountain View, adopted the practice of focusing development along corridors already served by public transit, as opposed to areas that can only be reached by car. Young people today have increasingly supported that shift through more affordable and environmentally conscious alternatives such as going car-free and living closer to job centers to have other travel options. The numbers are showing increased ridership on most all transit systems.

We're not trying to force people to live a certain way; we're planning so that we can meet the variety of competing needs that will arise. An effective, green-vehicle rapid transit solution will increase transit usage and benefit other modes of transportation as well. The additional infrastructure investments this project will bring to the area will provide safe and better access for bicycles and pedestrians. The El Camino Real corridor is one of three corridors being considered for the Bus Rapid Transit network.

The current environmental review process is an opportunity to study and determine the most beneficial transportation improvement for both current and future residents and commuters. Public review and input is expected again in summer 2014, and I look forward to having those discussions again with VTA staff and the many stakeholders, who care as much as I do about the future of our city and valley.

It's certainly been a pleasure for me to serve as Mountain View and North County's representative on the VTA board of directors and be a part of moving the BART extension into San Jose forward. The BART project is ahead of schedule. Also under consideration is the light rail double-tracking project into Mountain View to allow for increased express service, and the BRT, which all contribute to a bright outlook for increasing transit options in our county.

Margaret Abe-Koga is a member of the Mountain View City Council and is a member of the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors.

Comments

Posted by Vox Populi, a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Nov 8, 2013 at 6:16 am

Margaret,
In order to address the community concerns, I would like a commitment that any decision will rest with Mountain View. Commitment to submit the final proposal to a City Council vote with ample community input ... or even better Commitment to have a city wide referendum.


Posted by Greg , a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

Bus lanes are a done deal. It does not matter what existing residents want.


Posted by Garrett , a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Traffic will grow worse, costs in fuel will rise, growth will happen and yet we.demand more solutions. This doesn't seem like a costly solution, building another 14 mile road would be costly.


Posted by Tmd, a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I hope all the cities must agree to this design because then the 4 buses an hour won't get there own lane. 4 buses or 350 cars?


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