The railroad right-of-way through Mountain View parallels Central Expressway, a four-lane divided highway that is part of Santa Clara County's expressway network. This inherently gives the peninsula rail corridor a less residential character than in communities to the north, although several new housing developments have been built near the tracks in recent years, with more planned in the vicinity of the San Antonio Caltrain station. The latter station, opened in 1999, replaced the primitive stop formerly located at Rengstorff Avenue with what was billed as a model transit-oriented development.
The vertical profile of the existing Caltrain tracks is shown in the diagram below, created from Caltrain track survey data. The tracks slope gently, with the southern end of town a full 50 feet higher than the north. The slope is steepest (a bit over 0.6%) in the section between Castro St. and the Rte. 85 overpass, near the downtown station.
There are just two grade crossings remaining in Mountain View: Rengstorff Avenue and Castro Street.
The city has been planning a grade separation at Rengstorff Avenue since 2002, which is currently entering the environmental review process independently of high-speed rail. The city's preferred alternative (see feasibility study in PDF Attachment 2) calls for Rengstorff and the nearby intersection with Central Expressway to be depressed under the tracks. The $45 million plan already includes a corridor expansion to four tracks, as shown in the figure at right. Other design alternatives were eliminated: trenching the tracks at this location would have been complicated by the nearby Permanente Creek, and residents were concerned about the visual impact of elevated tracks. Nevertheless, the HSR scoping comments submitted by the city (see p. 95) ask that all vertical alignment alternatives be re-examined for the Rengstorff grade separation. Since the technical and community constraints have not changed at this location, the HSR alternatives analysis is likely to be consistent with the city's prior study.
That leaves the crossing at Castro Street in the downtown area, the most challenging design puzzle in Mountain View, where only one vertical alignment solution stands out as realistically feasible. The options that will probably not be practical are:
- A deep bore tunnel. While technically feasible, such a tunnel would be prohibitively expensive and difficult to build because the entire Mountain View train station would need to be sunk below grade, including 1/4 mile platforms if the city is selected as an HSR stop.
- A cut-and-cover tunnel or trench. The rails would need to be sunk 25 to 30 feet deep to pass under Castro Street, but the natural slope of the terrain to the south would require a steep 3% rise back to grade level at the Stevens Creek, potentially compromising the ability of freight trains to use the corridor. (This assumes re-routing the creek is not practical.)
- An at-grade alignment. The high train speeds would require the permanent closure of Castro Street, or the construction of a bridge over the tracks with extensive impacts to the 100 block of the historic downtown and businesses on Moffett Blvd. Either way, Castro would no longer connect to Central Expressway.
That leaves just one reasonable option: a split grade separation with the tracks elevated about 15 feet above grade and Castro Street sunk by about 5 feet. Sidewalks could stay at the current grade level, and the station would be elevated, not unlike the existing design at Belmont. To the north, the tracks would require a 2% grade to duck under the bridge at Shoreline Blvd. To the south, the tracks could run level (which is of benefit for building a new train station) to meet the rising natural grade, returning to ground level at the Stevens Creek. The resulting vertical profile is shown in the diagram below, in green; compare to the infeasible below-grade alignment shown in red.
While Caltrain and high-speed rail would comfortably handle this vertical profile, a rigid adherence to a 1% grade limit for the benefit of freight trains would likely require Castro Street be closed entirely to road traffic.
The Caltrain right of way is quite wide throughout Mountain View, with 75 - 100 feet available to build out the corridor to four tracks. The relatively sharp curve at San Antonio (the #8 worst curve on the peninsula) just barely allows 125 mph operation, although it could be straightened within the confines of the right of way. Does that mean Mountain View will easily accommodate an expanded, four-track, high-speed corridor? Sadly, no.
In the late 1990s, Caltrain agreed to let VTA and the city construct a light rail extension on its right of way. The light rail system now runs alongside the Caltrain tracks for about one mile, ending at a 50-foot wide terminal with expansive storage tracks near Castro Street (photo by LazyTom). On the western side of the Caltrain tracks, the city built a "transit center" to replace the dingy asphalt strip that previously served as a Caltrain platform. This $20 million intermodal facility was completed in 2002 with a new plaza and modern-day replica of Mountain View's old train depot, which might have earned a spot in a register of historic places had it not been razed in 1959. All this recent construction consumed a large portion of the available right of way, where ample space to build four tracks existed as recently as 1998. Not surprisingly, the city clings to this new civic infrastructure and suggests among other options that HSR be routed via the Central Expressway median--never mind that $20 million is a relative pittance in the context of the peninsula HSR project.
Further south, one southbound lane of Central Expressway will likely be taken to route the VTA track east of the bridge support pillars at Rte. 85 and Whisman, freeing up space for the four-track peninsula corridor.
The light rail situation is further complicated by (a) VTA's inexplicable ambition to double-track the short section of single track that encroaches on the Caltrain corridor, (b) the possible need to maintain freight train access to the Moffett Drill Track (see docket FRA-1999-6254 ; the switch that connected the VTA tracks to the peninsula corridor was recently dismantled, but the Moffett spur is not formally abandoned), and (c) the difficulty of relocating the Evelyn VTA station--incidentally second-to-last in ridership on the entire light rail system, with roughly 60 daily passengers. All three of these factors need to be examined with a critical eye towards who will pay and who will benefit.
Further north, another pinch point exists near the San Antonio station, where the San Antonio Road overpass (a 1960s structure that Caltrans lists as a deficient bridge) does not provide sufficient horizontal clearance for four tracks. The nearby pedestrian underpass would also require modification, likely as part of its extension across Central Expressway to the planned residential redevelopment of Hewlett Packard's former Mayfield campus. It goes without saying that the San Antonio platforms will need to be rebuilt, just like anywhere else on the peninsula.
Downtown Done Right
To visualize downtown "done right," download Mountain View 3D Model (2.2 Mb) for Google Earth. All the illustrations in this section are taken directly from this model, built by Richard Mlynarik.
While Mountain View's transit center is billed as an intermodal, accessible facility, there is vast room for improvement in passenger circulation. The challenge of designing a rail alignment that overcomes the twin obstacles of Castro Street and the light rail tracks presents an opportunity to improve Mountain View's transit center by creating a modern, functioning gateway into downtown. While the construction impact would indeed be frustrating, especially so soon after the area was rebuilt, this would simply reflect the haphazard manner in which the existing facility was planned, with little regard to future HSR requirements or effective pedestrian circulation.
Currently, the light rail tracks end on an unpleasant concrete island hemmed in by Central Expressway and the Caltrain tracks, requiring a circuitous route for pedestrians to access the trains. Centennial Plaza, the faux-depot and the bus loop cut off the Caltrain platforms from downtown. All passengers wishing to transfer between buses and trains must use crosswalks.
There is surely a better way. One possible redesign of the Mountain View Transit Center is described below. It is an exercise to achieve the best possible transportation functionality, providing these specific benefits:
- Keeps Castro open to all traffic
- Provides direct, elevator-free access from Caltrain/HSR platforms to sidewalks on both sides of Castro, without circuitous detours
- Places the VTA light rail terminus in Centennial Plaza, where it meshes intimately with the pedestrian fabric of downtown
- Allows direct platform-to-platform, passenger-friendly transfers between light rail, Caltrain locals and expresses, HSR, buses and employee shuttles--without the need for an umbrella during the rainy season
- Locates station amenities such as ticketing, bathrooms, snacks, etc. at the crossroads of pedestrian traffic
- Provides station parking under the tracks, reducing the need for unsightly parking structures
- Does not force bus passengers to use a crosswalk
|Centennial Plaza looking east||Evelyn looking north to Castro||Castro & Central looking south|
|View from northbound Central Expressway|
For additional views and detail, download the 3D model for Google Earth.
What happened to the retro-faux-depot? Remember, this design is an exercise in form following transportation function. In 1895, the depot would have housed important functions such as mail and baggage handling, signaling staff, and a telegraph operator. Today, those functions are obsolete, so the depot building has no place or purpose. It's gone, for the greater good of functional 21st-century transportation. Architecturally, there are far more exciting possibilities that enhance rather than impede functionality.
Regardless of the details of how exactly HSR is integrated with Mountain View's transit center, one thing is clear: the high-speed rail authority's charter is to build HSR, period. Ensuring that the intermodal connections at Mountain View can live up to their potential will largely be up to the city and its citizens, who ought to take strong initiative to ensure it's done right--without letting their judgment be unduly clouded by the $20 million they spent this past decade.
NOTE: This post will be updated continuously, as warranted by additional information or new events relating to Mountain View.
What is the passenger volume expected to be served here? How many parking spaces in this proposed solution?ReplyDelete
I dig the station/track route designs. hope guys at CAHSRA sees this.ReplyDelete
2009: about 3500 weekday boardings
2035: about 80% higher than 2009, or about 6300 weekday boardings.
VTA light rail ridership
2009: about 1200 weekday boardings
2035: about 2050 weekday boardings
2035: about 3900 weekday boardings (if the peninsula stop is in Mountain View, not Redwood City), of which 1600 would be to other peninsula destinations in competition with Caltrain.
Adding all these together, you get roughly 12,000 weekday boardings at Mountain View. I would expect the total to be lower than that, since ridership estimates tend to be optimistic.
Will that require a 12,000 space parking structure? Definitely not. Today, the transit center has 338 parking spaces for 4700 weekday boardings, or 7.2% of ridership. Assuming that same rate for 2035, you get about 850 parking spaces. Since HSR passengers will be more likely to arrive by car, you can at least double that to ~1700 parking spaces. Compare to the parking megastructure in Millbrae, with 2900 spaces.
So, yes. You're looking at a big multi-story parking structure which is already anticipated in the city's scoping comments.
OK, and where is the parking structure located?ReplyDelete
Since HSR is designed to be a long distance mode (airline alternative), and long distance trips are almost always more than simple day trips, whereas caltrain is probably nearly always a day trip, wouldn't it likely be more than 14% parking spaces required for HSR?
And impact/changes required on surrounding city streets? Expedient routes from 101 into this location? In my experience its not a quick/easy place to reach because it requires a lot of surface streets.
You're looking at a big multi-story parking structure which is already anticipated in the city's scoping comments.ReplyDelete
Which could be built over the tracks. Or under the tracks. Or they could make parking at the station so expensive that people take the bus, trolley or a taxi.
If HSR and Caltrain pick the same platform height the "mid peninsula" station is any Caltrain station. Very easy to do at the stations with four platforms and a bit more difficult but not impossible to do a the two platform stations. Mountain View is going to have four platforms whether or not it's an HSR station isn't it?
I'm not thrilled that the bus loop is still two blocks off of Castro. If I'm reading the bus maps correctly the buses that stop there are detouring off the main route to get there. Anyway to put that up on Castro? Or get rid of it all together and put in some bus parking so the drivers have someplace to leave the bus while he or she darts into the station for a break?
Out of the 12,000 daily boardings, ~10,000 would be for peninsula destinations. At a 7.2% parking space per boarding rate, that works out to ~720 spaces. The other ~1000 spaces that I guesstimated for ~2400 long-distance HSR passengers work out to about 40% parking space per boarding (not 14%).ReplyDelete
It would be interesting to know what the parking space rate is for SFO or SJC, including daily and long term parking. I agree that would be an appropriate metric. Does anyone know?
Just thinking aloud, the parking structure would be built over the existing parking lot, possibly even over the tracks, with a couple of underground levels that connect under VTA to entrance / exit ramps located in the Central Expressway median.
Parking is not shown in the model because our 3D modeling staff works pro bono.
The problem with the bus loop or any other connection to meaningful transit (transit bus, private shuttle bus, taxi, kiss and ride, parking) is that the stupid, glacial, zero-ridership VTA Toonerville Trolley is in the way.ReplyDelete
Just admit defeat -- which is blindingly obvious, and which even VTA's GM now admits (map page 7) --, tear out the dumb trolley, and make room for the connections people will actually use and which have a snowball's chance of being time-competitive
BTW there really isn't any meaningful amount of connecting VTA bus traffic at Mountain VIew today, and there will be less in the future as VTA's service continues to implode as the agency squanders hundreds of millions of public tax dollars on BART to Berryessa, to the exclusion of every other thing.
But if there were, and if we look at areas and countries with good transit service and good connectivity, something like what is shown in the model is very common.
The key is for everything to run on a common headway (15 minute, 20 minute, 30 minute, whatever), making it important that there be a place close to the train platform accesses points where good numbers of buses can arrive a couple minutes early, wait for the 15/20/30 minute hand to tick over, pick up passengers, and then all depart. Making the connection work for the humans ought to be top priority, not just making some lines on a map seem superficially straighter.
As long as the buses don't waste 5 minutes getting to and from the bus stop -- and it doesn't look like it here -- it shouldn't matter whether the stop is right on Castro or a block to the side. Successful (non-VTA) precedent says that big stations like this are major time point and transfer point for bus service, not a drive-by.
Still, the best thing is to just rip out the stupid, n-no-ridership, can-never-ever-ever-work, deadly-slow, inconceivably-circuitous Tooner Trolley and put the buses and taxis (and, gasp, parking), closest to the train connections.
PS I work down there. Right on the VTA light rail line. And I'd be inane to consider riding it. None of my co-workers do. It really is that bad. I mean, just look a map! Tear it up and run a bus along 237 or something. Anything.
VTA wants to double-track that area because it has ambitions to extend light rail to Palo Alto.ReplyDelete
If a four-lane Central Expressway was also raised over Castro then Castro would only have to cross the on/off ramps (frontage lanes) of the expressway. Then the expressway commute traffic would not have to stop for Castro and Castro could connect with Moffett Blvd. with much less interruption. This would also make it easier for pedestrians to get to the other side of Central and easier for buses to navigate to the loop.ReplyDelete
To get from Northbound Central to Eastbound Shoreline you may have to take the frontage road across Castro and continue on to Shoreline unless there is room for the Castro and Shoreline on/off ramps as well as the grade of the overpass.
I have considered a similar exercise to elevate Alma St. for the Charleston and Meadow crossings leaving only frontage roads to cross Charleston and Meadow. This would greatly improve the traffic flow along Alma and Central.
As for bus access to the loop, why not have a bus-only lane cross the VTA tracks under the main line tracks and connect directly to Central with a bus-only intersection. The would be located near the south end of the HSR platform.
Maybe VTA has in mind continuing the light rail to Palo Alto via Stierlin Rd. to N. Shoreline to Middlefield.
"If a four-lane Central Expressway was also raised over Castro ..."ReplyDelete
Arggh! Stop it, stop it, stop it!
What is this, 1950 or something?
Oh yeah, right. It is. In VTA urban freeway construction land. Where "interchange improvements" and road widenings decrease VMT, GHG emissions and improve quality of life.
(Not that our San Mateo TA is any less neaderthal: "auxiliary lanes" on 101 -- not the same as freeway widening, oh no! And not at all undermining Caltrain, oh no not at all! And not completely killing bus service and screwing poor people! Never!)
The entire ever-sprawling "developed" cancer of Santa Clara County needs to be bulldozed. I speak as somebody whose income comes from south of the border -- it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.
Successful (non-VTA) precedent says that big stations like this are major time point and transfer point for bus service, not a drive-by.ReplyDelete
Silly me, I saw an elaborate double bus loop and thought "lots of buses" I use buses that run so frequently that I have to think hard about what a "time point" is. I don't worry about them because the bus comes so frequently that if you miss a transfer the next bus will be there in a few minutes.
The buses are coming in from the north mostly. Move the bus loop to up to Castro, under the station, it cuts two blocks off those trips each way. Not a whole lot of difference. Since they are going to be ripping everything out anyway, why not? Gives the bus an extra 90 seconds of schedule padding.
Does the trolley attract more riders if it goes out to El Camino Real? All those destination along Castro in addition to the train station? Many more if has suburbs on both ends instead of one end? ( going west of El Camino Real in addition to going south of the train station )
..but as you pointed out they are spending lots and lots of money on BARTilicousness and probably couldn't do much of anything.
"I use buses that run so frequently that I have to think hard about what a "time point" is. I don't worry about them because the bus comes so frequently that if you miss a transfer the next bus will be there in a few minutes."ReplyDelete
I promise you that will never be the case anywhere in Mountain View ... or pretty much anywhere in the Bay Area outside San Francisco and Broadway in Oakland. Just look at an aerial photo of the suburbs! Read my lips ... not gonna happen.
But all hope is not lost: transit running to a schedule, and running to a co-ordinated schedule with co-ordinated fares to minimize the penalty of and maximize the utility of transfer opportunities, is something that's very hard for people who haven't lived with it to understand, but it can work incredibly well, even in places that can't justify bus lines running on 4 minute headways.
Somewhere I've seen (can't find right now) some nice time-lapse videos of central/northern European train stations showin that the platforms are completely empty of people (and trains) for about 11 minutes out of every 15, then get populated as the connecting buses arrive and people walk in from cafes/shops/etc just before the train shows up. If things are predicable this works just as well every half hour, and could work in places like Mountain View, even off-peak.
The contrary model of expecting desperate lower class bus riders to hang around forever in some desolate bus shelter, hoping that maybe something will show up, is one it would be really nice to move beyond.
Happy New Year, all,
Adirondacker, it's useful to time transfers even in high-frequency situations; Vienna does so at the U4/U6 transfer, even though the lines run every 5 minutes.ReplyDelete
The reason is that passengers don't like to wait more than they don't like to be on the train for too long. They perceive a minute spent transferring (especially walking to make a non-cross-platform transfer) as longer than a minute spent on the train.
Nice design, but lose the stupid bus bays.ReplyDelete
Bay Area transit agencies (BART in particular) have this annoying tendency to spend millions on bus bays plonked over in a remote suburban parking lot somewhere. For bus riders (esp. ones who are not getting off at the train station), it is extremely time-consuming for buses to navigate multiple left-turns to get into the station and back out again.
(As an experiment, try riding VTA line 66 past the Great Mall "inter-modal" LRT station. You can easily lose 10 minutes at that one stop.)
In this case, you've gone to all the trouble (and monumental expense) of grade-separating Castro street. So why not just have the buses drop-off and pick-up passengers directly on Castro street under the tracks. Or directly on Evelyn (if that is the direction for that particular route). Why force passengers (and bus drivers) to go through such convoluted route?
Now, if Mountain View were the center-of-universe for bus riders, perhaps one could make an argument for a "grand-central" bus stop. But (as already mentioned) bus ridership here is practically zero. And if you compare to stations that do have huge bus ridership (i.e. SF Market Street, downtown Berkeley, etc), they manage just fine without any bus bay area at all.
Toonerville Trolley is in the way.ReplyDelete
Yes it is. Any plan I toy with stops with "But the trolley is in the way"
In a spare no expense scenario the trolley goes underground. Leaves the street for things that run on the street. Works very well in Newark NJ. Mountain View is never going to be Newark.
BTW there really isn't any meaningful amount of connecting VTA bus traffic at Mountain VIew today
I saw double bus loops and enough shelter for trainloads of passengers. I keep forgetting that California is special. I looked at the schedules. I think "Why do they have a bus loop at all?" I then remember that California is special so I won't ask that.
It really is that bad.
The first time I used BART from SFO I didn't bother to look at a map until I got on the train. I though it was odd that there were two spurs and shuttle running between them. I asked Californians why that was and they would roll their eyes and tell me it was a long story. I asked an ex-Long Islander who lives in Sunnyvale. His edited remarks would be "I don't know, it's California". Didn't look at satellite images until about a year ago. After I stopped banging my head on the desk I came to the conclusion that California is special. When I looked at the trolley line squiggling all over Santa Clara county I gave it a few minutes of consideration and came to the conclusion that I can't fathom California's super duper extra specialness and stopped considering it. I take your word for it that it is bad. . . Maybe that's the specialness in California - doing it as badly as possible while still qualifying for Federal grants.
Just look at an aerial photo of the suburbs!
I do and it looks like suburbs that I've lived in where I don't look at bus schedules because the bus comes every few minutes. Today as an additional rationality check I looked up densities. Mountain View is the same as the suburbs I've lived in give or take a hundred or so per square mile.
I look at satellite images of Castro Street and can pick out two parking garages. Enough people want to go to Castro Street that they are building very very expensive parking garages. The word currently in vogue to describe places like that is "vibrant". So it probably has some street life. Pedestrians even. I see a train station, double bus loop, trolley terminal and I assume lots and lots of pedestrians. I keep forgetting that California is special. It must be the palm trees...
A caveat: the difference you don't see in the satellite images is the destinations from those suburbs. Suburban New Jersey has both Newark and New York as destinations. Very often the bus and the train gets you to both. San Jose is never going to be Newark. San Francisco is never going to be Manhattan or even the Loop.
...there is hope...
There would be if you only want to do it in Mountain View - arrange the schedules so that both the northbound and southbound locals, Baby Bullets and expresses all arrive in a short window of time. Doing it at all the baby bullet stops is hopeless unless Caltrain is running high frequencies on the local and express tracks. If Caltrain is running high frequencies meeting an individual train is less important.
Best I come up with is timing the bus to meet the local. People who want the Baby Bullet or the express to San Francisco will be willing to wait a few minutes because even with a short layover at the train station they get to/from their destinations faster than driving. Get rid of the trolley and there can be a nice station where everybody who is waiting can loiter. Insist on keeping the trolley, consider - it was just a suggestion - moving the buses up to Castro where they are closer to the vibrancy going on in addition to being close to the train station. I'm sure the bus passenger, the dozens of them that are using the bus, will appreciate it.
Nice design, but lose the stupid bus bays.ReplyDelete
Neither of us have considered that they were already there on the base Google information. In other words it's not something he deliberately put in, it's just something he didn't edit out.
Who knows - maybe if Newark had bothered to time its buses and run them on a schedule, its downtown would have a transit modal share higher than 26% (see page 13 of this link). Even people who live in Newark are more likely than not to drive to downtown Newark, or to any other place where they hold jobs.ReplyDelete
For reference: transit mode share in the Tokyo suburbs is about 30-40%, but that includes both the close-in secondary cities and the low-density suburbs. I'd much rather California followed the example of Japan - or France, or Germany, or even England - than that of the Northeastern US, which only looks good because it's the one-eyed region in the land of the blind.
"Nice design, but lose the stupid bus bays."ReplyDelete
Hi Drunk Engineer,
I 80% agree with you.
I guess there are two ways to look at this: the first is that somebody (ie you and I) is going to waste many billion dollars on a batshit insane project to run HSR through 50 miles of suburbs, interfering with regional service all the way up the peninsula with costs many times greater than any benefit, and we end up with bat shit insanely overbuilt stations with no riders and no connecting transit and crap VTA "service" as usual.
The other way is that is that somebody (ie you and I) is going to waste many billion dollars on a batshit insane project ... , and we end up with bat shit insanely overbuilt stations with few riders and somewhat better connecting transit than today.
So the Sketchup model I made reflects the latter. I'm delusionally pretending that Mountain View is a suburb of Frankfurt or Helsinki or something. Please don't read into any of this any personal endorsement of running four tracks through Mountain View (or anywhere between Santa Clara and Redwood City -- that's batshit insane!), or any endorsement of horrific VTA bus service, here or at the Great Mall. (Been there on the 66 and the 180, know the horror.) Please don't read into it any belief other than that the VTA Toonerville Trolley should be erased from the face of the earth and that everybody connected with advocating, funding, planning, building or operating it should be put to death.
The hallucination in the little toy train station model presented is this: if somebody spends a few hundred million putting the wrong train service in the wrong place at a grotesquely oversized and overbuilt station (that seems to be a given), let's pretend that somebody is at least provided the parking space to spend a few hundred thousand to run buses to it. And for God's sake let's not close off roads just because some dickhead engineer with no design skills and no connection to reality wants to play with freight trains. Plus I know Mountain View pretty well, and I have a reasonable idea of where bus service might make sense, and I don't see through service (E-W on Castro, or N-S on Evelyn) through the station making a lot of sense. Hence I didn't get too upset about the off-Castro bus loop, and I didn't go ballistic about the stupid, useless VTA light rail stealing prime intermodal (buzz word alert!) real estate.
A real Mountain View station would be a two-track (that's all that's needed) elevated over Castro Street, with no VTA light rail (torn up and replaced by much faster and better bus service -- and yes, I knew and used the "superseded" 20 line which was better and faster and cheaper), and a similar-scale bus loop, designed like central European prototypes for 4 to 5 routes to converge and dwell every 15/30 minutes coordinated with the 15/30 minute train takt, located right at the corner of Evelyn and Castro, and probably with a bus-only right-hand turn from Central right under the station. But it's Clem's blog, and he's assuming the bat shit insane Pacheco disaster, and nobody wants to admit the VTA rail should be detonated, so that's where I started.
And just remember, "it's only a model.
That's not a model.ReplyDelete
This is a model.
How will the proposed Mountain View Streetcar integrate with all of this?ReplyDelete
The bus loop isn't as bad as some of you think it is. All of the bus lines that use the bus loop actually terminate or begin at the Caltrain station so there aren't any through riders. The one through route that passes by the transit center uses a stop on Castro by the faux depot, so time isn't wasted driving in circles.
Besides VTA buses, there are a lot of employee shuttles that terminate at Caltrain which use the bus loop.
I know there's a lot of hate for South Bay transit, but I think this station works pretty well and fills up with a reasonable number of people during the morning and evening commute. VTA light rail meets most of the bullets within a few minutes, while one run of the dinky #35 bus can be standing room only since it departs several minutes after a southbound bullet departs. Unfortunately, this level of connectivity is the exception, not the norm. However, I think these glimmering moments demonstrate just how well transit connections can work as long as operations are somewhat coordinated.
The bus loop isn't as bad as some of you think it is. All of the bus lines that use the bus loop actually terminate or begin at the Caltrain station so there aren't any through riders.ReplyDelete
Whether or not these are terminating lines is quite irrelevant. If buses have to do additional turns to get in and out of the loop, you've just added precious seconds to the bus-train transfer time.
American planners seem to not understand that it is the total door-door travel time that matters. Shaving seconds off a bus-train transfer is just as important (and more cost-effective) as straightening curves on the fancy $50 billion choo-choo line.
American planners seem to not understand that it is the total door-door travel time that mattersReplyDelete
Yes, like those people who propose terminating HSR at San José, or worse, Livermore...
Who knows - maybe if Newark had bothered to time its buses and run them on a schedule,ReplyDelete
I used the buses in Newark for most of my life. Bought my last bus card in 2005. The buses run on schedules and the schedules are accurate. For local travel I never checked them, the bus would be there soon. No one checks schedules if they are transferring to a destination within downtown. It's a classic hub and spoke system with the hub at Broad and Market. If you are on a bus that traverses Broad Street and you want to get to someplace on Market - Penn Station or the Courthouse lets say - when you get off the Broad Street bus there's a bus waiting on Market. It works the same way if you are on a Market Street bus, no one cares what the destination sign says, it's still headed to IDT or the Federal Buildings. No need to time anything because 16 hours a day there will be a bus in the stop when you get to Broad and Market. Maximum wait is the same as the cycle of the stoplight. What kind of timed transfers are you imagining would make downtown Newark work better?
downtown would have a transit modal share higher than 26%
Those numbers are as of 2000. 2000 was near the nadir of Newark's downtown. Mutual Benefit Life's building was still empty. It isn't anymore. Plenty of "taxpayer" parking lots were available, with cheap parking. Many of them have office buildings on them now, ones with no or limited parking. The population of Newark stopped declining and has risen. Parking has gotten very expensive - so expensive that off hour trips it was cheaper for me to take the bus downtown and a cab home. It's probably higher than 26% today.
The study also points out that the employees no longer live near the bus or the bus doesn't go to the job that's moved to the suburbs. Kinda hard to get people to take the bus if there is no bus.
I'd much rather California followed the example of Japan - or France, or Germany, or even England - than that of the Northeastern US
Gasoline is 7 or 8 bucks a gallon in those countries. What are the chances of California and the Federal government taxing motor fuels that much in our lifetimes? Or ever. The gas taxes in those countries influences their choices along with timed transfers.
...But it's Clem's blog....
Ah so it's a design spec problem. . .
So the question should be "Clem how come the buses are shoved off into Siberia two blocks away from all the activity on Castro?"
And just remember, "it's only a model.
And remember it's only a suggestion, to Clem, to move the buses.
American planners seem to not understand that it is the total door-door travel time that matters. Shaving seconds off a bus-train transfer is just as important (and more cost-effective)...
Fastest way for me to get into Manhattan was to take the bus to Penn Station in Newark and hop onto a train. Penn Station is reasonably well designed. You can step off the bus on Market Street and across the sidewalk there are stairs to the platforms. In the late 70s they closed the stairs for security reasons. I was really really annoyed. The bus was still at the same place, the platform was still at the same place and the distance I had to walk was the same. But instead of walking up the stairs and onto the platform I had to cross Market Street - not an easy task - cross the taxi driveway, deal with the crowds in the concourse and use much more crowded stairs. Instead of waiting for a train on the uncrowded part of the platform I had to wade through the hordes transferring to PATH. It probably added all of 30 seconds to my trip. It added annoyance. I wasn't the only one it annoyed. The stairs were closed for a long time. NJTransit has reopened them. It's bliss.
Two blocks out of the way is annoying. It can be avoided. There's going to be times when that extra 60 seconds means catching a train instead of watching the doors close. Why not do it?
or like people who suggest that anyone with the remotest of options would take a friggin BUS to get to the Castro train station? The reason ridership on caltrain is so high at this station is because of company sponsored door to door shuttle. And that's for DAILY COMMUTERS. Any reason for bay area company's to shuttle hoards of HSR riders in daily? New Flash - not many reasons for bay area company's to send people to LA. I worked for two of the biggest for 20 years, they don't even have field offices in LA.ReplyDelete
And this idea that there some reason for all these masses of people and pedestrians to get to (and walk around on) Castro - Huh? Well, seriously then you've never been to castro. Its about three blocks of hole in the wall restaurants. I've lived within a couple miles of Castro for my whole 45 years, and have been to castro a handful of times. There's no real reason or draw for Castro - its just Mountain View's mini little small town restaruant row. The only people going to castro for any reason are the ones that work there (like all 500 of them) - and new flash - they don't have much of any reason to ride HSR in any numbers. They live and work locally. The only real reason for most to go to Castro is to get to the station, to get to caltrain.
If you are unfortunate enough to HAVE TO or stupid enough to OPT to try to take a bus to this location, your trip would take HOURS.
Here's the key question - where do you think all these hoards of people are coming FROM? Will a huge constant flow of bus network be viable FROM that location? (HINT - the Peninsula is a pretty spread out place with infinite numbers of small 'central' locations, none of which are particularly central or particularly bus friendly. Castro may be one of the larger ones, and its all of three blocks long - and how many people actually LIVE in this area, and how many of those actually have a need to ride long distance HSR with any regularity? Don't go looking at Castro for some big HSR market...
You won't be able to identifiy a logical central FROM point for any Peninsula bus system to bring HSR riders in. Mountain View just better be saddling up for one big ass high rise long term parking structure.
The reason ridership on caltrain is so high at this station is because of company sponsored door to door shuttle.ReplyDelete
Someday they are going to tear everything down and build an elevated train station. Whether or not that train station is four track or two track or has HSR service or not, is irrelevant. When they are rearranging things it would be nice to make it faster, cheaper and less annoying for passengers if they reconsidered where the buses are. Public buses along with the shuttle buses.
New Flash - not many reasons for bay area company's to send people to LA. I worked for two of the biggest for 20 years, they don't even have field offices in LA.
News Flash: Train stations work both ways. The reason Mountain View is being considered for an HSR stop is that it is a destination in addition to being an origin.
News Flash 2: People go to places other than their field offices when they go on business trips. They go to visit their customers, there are a few in Mountain View. They go to visit their vendors, there's a few of those in Mountain View too. All those vendors and customers in Mountain View need support services. The support services have other customers and vendors who might want to visit them. There might even be field offices of other companies who have corporate headquarter in places other than Mountain View, it does happen, who want to send people to and from the field office.
Its about three blocks of hole in the wall restaurants. I've lived within a couple miles of Castro for my whole 45 years, and have been to castro a handful of times.
Tastes vary. Someone thought building a parking garage just off Castro was a good idea. Such a good idea that someone built another one. They don't build expensive parking garages in places people DON'T want to go to. Castro Street isn't to your tastes, other people find it attractive enough that there's parking garages.
Here's the key question - where do you think all these hoards of people are coming FROM?
The places the employees who use Caltrain to get to the employer provided shuttle buses live? The places those employers customers and vendors live and work? In addition to the people who live in Mountain View and want to get to places other than Mountain View.
If you are unfortunate enough to HAVE TO or stupid enough to OPT to try to take a bus to this location, your trip would take HOURS.ReplyDelete
In what universe? If you lived in downtown San Jose, for example, and worked on Castro Street, would there really be that much time saved by driving as opposed to taking the 522 and *gasp* having to walk a few blocks down Castro? Again, taking the 522 (or even the 22 on shorter trips) doesn't take *hours* to get to Mt. View. Of course, I'm just talking about Santa Clara County as an example, and one particular bus route, but still. I think its too ingrained for affluent Silicon Valley types to even begin to consider public trans. Or to do common sense things like choose to live someplace halfway near work, near transit lines, etc.
And, its nice that this blog thinks bus riders are stupid low income blobs or something.
This blog doesn't pass judgement on bus riders. That everyone seems to be discussing buses should be a sign that people care about good bus service.ReplyDelete
'few' being the operative word.ReplyDelete
And employer shuttle busses travel from employment site to train station and back period. They don't go around picking up employees allover the bay area - but which is exactly (presumably) what public buses are theoretically supposed to do - pick people up from where they are (home? work? grocery store? train station?) and take them to another useful place (work home grocery store train station). Problem is, and the reason buses don't work around here is that bus networks can't afford to provide convenient enough and frequent enough coverage ALL OVER the place, so they don't reach enough people to make sense. They don't get full enough, so they limit the
routes and make alot of stops and that makes them slow and non-practical for most.
My point here is that buses are not going to be any major source of ridership delivery system to this station. Ever. The bay area can't afford its sub-useful bus system - heck San Francisco Muni is even cutting bus services, and they ARE concentrated enough for buses to be feasible.
Castro's got parking garages? News to me. Where? The biggest thing on Castro is the Mt. View Center Performing Arts (so I assume around there) - but that's usually empty as far as I can tell. A big empty plaza most of the time. I went there once for a performance of The Nutcracker, parked on the street because its so empty around there.
Point is - lets be real about what Castro is and isn't. It ISNT some built in mass market for HSR ridership to LA. A few? Once in a while? Sure, I'll give you a few, once in a while.
This Mt. View location is at best a willing host to the capital improvement, (until they do a little more research and come to an understanding of what the traffic impacts will be to their podunk - but massively important to them - downtown strip)
It also ISNT a convenient location for an HSR station for anyone else on the Peninsula. Its highly inconvenient and will draw a TON of slow auto traffic in to neighborhoods though small two lane roads off 101 that are not equiped for that kind of traffic.
It also ISNT (HSR isnt) some mass business generator for the homespun funky mom and pop restaurant row - because HSR riders are going to be busy getting on about their long distance travel. When was the last time YOU took the time to walk around the neighborhood surrounding your airport? (not IN your airport - but AROUND your airport? ("Lets get to the airport two hours early dear, so we can walk across the street to go eat at Big Ed's Chinese Bistro". No, it doesn't happen. People are expediently getting on with their trips.
So Mountain View needs to take a good hard look at what they are and aren't signing up for.
ARE signing up for: BIG traffic headache in the surrounding neighborhoods. BIG long term parking structure where they might like to see something a little more neighborhood friendly. BIG headache for the neighborhood family customers of Castro.
ARE NOT signing up for: SOME great business generator for Castro. Some great enhancement to Mt View's castro street charm and character. Some fabulous ways for Mt. View famlies to get around convieniently - because how often to Mt View families spend hundreds on round trip tickets to LA. Not often.
AND the icing on the cake for Mountain View is the BUSINESS PLAN that says CHSRA plans to take their parking revenues, and their private business generation from the HSR station and promise it to the HSR investors. So in reality, Mountain View gets to be royally screwed.
Calm down. Mountain View hasn't even been selected as the mid-peninsula stop.ReplyDelete
Amanda in SJ, no I don't think bus riders are stupid low income blobs. They are generally those that either live extraordinarily close to convenient bus routes (extremely rare in the Peninsula), or they are lacking in other options more convenient options, in which case I feel sorry for them, because they are hamstrung in their productivity potential by miserable bus service.ReplyDelete
In fact, if you live in Mt. View and work in SJ - which I basically have done all my working life, that's a car ride via 85 that takes about 15 minutes. I'd be astounded if it took anything less than 4X that long by bus incluing the walk to and from bus stops. AND, at lunch time, I can go do errands, I can go to a doctor appointment, I can go visit my elderly grandmother, I can go to a class, an inifinite number of things that require greater than a 1 mile walking radius around my work site, possibilities that come with mobility. A car is far more flexible and productive.
In fact, the real revolution we should spending stimulus money on is electric and alternative fuel autos.
By the way, my point isn't about buses - they should be made available to those who need them - and if they were more regular and frequent, comprehensive and reliable - then we could all take them more - great all around. Now THAT would be worthy goal of stimulus money - building a compelling local public transit.
In fact, the real revolution we should spending stimulus money on is electric and alternative fuel autos.ReplyDelete
Transportation is not just about fuel use or carbon impact, it's about traffic. You know how everyone makes fun of LA for having terrible traffic? That's what you're headed for. People in LA thought they could solve every transportation problem with cars too. Now we're paying the price for the myopic thinking. And, by the way, we've had people screaming about reducing growth here the whole time too, so that's not a solution either.
If all you do is replace the single-occupant gasoline cars with single-occupant electric cars, then you just have the same amount of cars sitting in the same amount of traffic. Just less pollution.ReplyDelete
HSR doesn't reduce traffic either. As I said, the right combination of stimulus money for reduction of traffice would be investment in LOCAL public transit that works to take people out of their cars, combined with alternative energy automobile technology for those who can't get out of their cars (where public transit isn't available).ReplyDelete
Long distance travelers who travel by car today are cost conscience, they are not airline travelers, and they won't pay airline prices or higher for HSR. (Family of five over 1000 bucks for a round trip HSR trip? Not happening) So you don't get many long distance auto's off the road - HSR themselves have said that HSR is an alternative to long distance airline travel.
So if you're so worried about traffic congestion, YOU should be arguing for stimulus money to go to local mass transit network improvements instead of HSR too.
Well, part of HSR the HSR bonds is to go towards improving the feeder system, which translates into local and regional mass transit.ReplyDelete
Something like 80% of all HSR trips are expected to be pulled from Auto trips, not flights. That takes cars off the roads. But yes, I was referring to your general statement that making cars more fuel efficient is going to solve our transportation problems.ReplyDelete
There's no conflict between being an HSR supporter and being a local transit supporter. I fully support both. In fact, they make each other more useful.
Anonymous: low bus speed can have two basic reasons: it has to wait at intersections among other traffic or it stops too frequently.ReplyDelete
First issue can be mitigated by reserved lanes to allow the bus to wait only one traffic lights cycle. This measure has doubled average speed at some congested section in my city.
If it stops too frequently to be attractive for long-distance trips, it should be complemented by some express service. Either an express bus or already operating Caltrain (fare and ticket integration in addition to timetables integration would help a lot in that case).
Regarding HSR ticket prices for families: the future operator can offer large discounts for contrapeak trips.
"(Family of five over 1000 bucks for a round trip HSR trip? Not happening)"ReplyDelete
Why are you worried about families of five when many people already travel alone?
"So if you're so worried about traffic congestion, YOU should be arguing for stimulus money to go to local mass transit network improvements instead of HSR too."ReplyDelete
Convenient for the highway boosters, who pit high speed rail versus mass transit to divert attention away from freeways that were already near or at capacity shortly after they opened. When the stimulus bill is so heavily weighted to highways, it leaves us competing for the scraps.
Something like 80% of all HSR trips are expected to be pulled from Auto trips, not flightsReplyDelete
Perhaps according to the EIR, which used a 50% airline pricing model. But in the Business Plan, CHSRA revealed it actually intends an 83% price. At that level, large numbers of potential travelers will stick to automobile.
You really have to hand it to the CHSRA. For the EIR, they use a low ticket price to suggest high ridership. For the Business Plan, they used a high ticket price to suggest high profitability. Obviously, both cannot be true.
There's no conflict between being an HSR supporter and being a local transit supporter.
This is correct. The HSR project brings massive improvements to Caltrain service, which most would define as "local" transit.
"Obviously, both cannot be true."ReplyDelete
Both are true, just not concurrently. It's a trade off, obviously.
I don't know if it's accurate to say that the CHSRA revealed their intentions. The project is under intense pressure to be profitable, pay for itself and fund future segments with those profits. I believe the strategy changed to reflect the demand that the project be profitable.
It's not a strategy I necessarily agree with or even think is going to happen. I have no problem subsidizing the goddamn thing to the extent that we have subsidized an automobile-centric nation.
No doubt, if you already distrust the project, its intentions and motives, then you probably think the changes in the business plan were underhanded. If you already distrust American engineering firms and politicians, I doubt you would be happy with this project even if they were on the up and up.
Also, the 83% scenario was presented in previous CHSRA documents. They didn't just pull it out of thin air. It has been known for a while that revenues would be higher with fares set at 83% of air fares.ReplyDelete
Perhaps according to the EIR, which used a 50% airline pricing model. But in the Business Plan, CHSRA revealed it actually intends an 83% price. At that level, large numbers of potential travelers will stick to automobile.ReplyDelete
Even with the 83% numbers, the ridership is still predominantly culled from auto-trips, I don't know if they've given a precise split like they did with the 50% estimates, but it's still mostly replacements for car trips. The only way the math would make sense otherwise is if somehow raising the price increased the number of people who were coming from flights, which of course isn't going to happen.
One important thing about the ridership numbers is that 1: most of them are not expected to be end-to-end trips, and 2: they are talking about trips, not ridership miles. People often dismiss the ridership numbers by saying thing like "60 million people aren't going to fly from LA to SF", which is true, but most of the "trips" are going to be shorter than end-to-end.
Even with the 83% numbers, the ridership is still predominantly culled from auto-trips, I don't know if they've given a precise split like they did with the 50% estimates, but it's still mostly replacements for car trips. The only way the math would make sense otherwise is if somehow raising the price increased the number of people who were coming from flights, which of course isn't going to happen.ReplyDelete
Major logic fail, AndyDuncan.
Even with CHSRA's flawed and inflated models, the higher fare scenario will reduce the total ridership, attracting fewer riders that would otherwise fly or drive. The higher railfares will have a deeper negative appeal to automobile-users than plane-users. Higher railfares will reduce the mode shift from flights slightly, but as Drunk Engineer correctly hints, higher railfares will severely impair the mode shift from automobiles. For a party of four (or even just two) driving in a car will be considerably cheaper than trainfares set at 83% of airfares.
For a party of four (or even just two) driving in a car will be considerably cheaper than trainfares set at 83% of airfares..ReplyDelete
That's not what I was saying, Billy.
It would have been cheaper than 50% of airfares too.
I'm not doubting that higher prices will disproportionately affect ridership coming from autos versus air, but it's not going to flip the percentages around so that >50% of riders are going to come from air.
As an aside, why is it that people somehow think that only families travel, and that people bring their wife/husband and kids everywhere? Most trips taken are business trips, not vacations, and most travelers are solo, especially on short hops like SoCal to NorCal.
@ Anonymous 16:18 wroteReplyDelete
"For a party of four (or even just two) driving in a car will be considerably cheaper than trainfares set at 83% of airfares."
Hey, walking 5 to 10 miles to get where you're going is considerably cheaper than driving ... notice how many people won't even think about doing that?
Yes, it's because there's much more to mode choice than price. Time and convenience are on HSR's side when you compare to the mind-numbing and randomly unpredictable congestion-plagued and infuriating nightmare that driving is.
Yes, it's because there's much more to mode choice than price. Time and convenience are on HSR's side when you compare to the mind-numbing and randomly unpredictable congestion-plagued and infuriating nightmare that driving is.ReplyDelete
Time to face actual transportation reality, Reality Check. The I-5 between the Bay Area and LA is rarely ever congested (holiday weekends being the rare exception), and cruising in a car at 80mph is easy and convenient along I-5. Cars may be slower than HSR trains, but they also go directly door-to-door and allow the traveling party autonomity in how they manage their trip: when they leave, when they stop, what route to take, how much to carry, etc. For families, especially ones with young children, this autonomy is extremely appealing. HSR will have a very hard time competing for this market segment, especially when driving a full car is so much cheaper than the proportional railfares.
Long distance trips do tend to involve more planning and preparation, so automobile-users are more likely to find companions for their longer trips than typical local trips. While local automobile trips are mostly solo, long-distance automobile trips are far less likely to be solo. Ride-sharing is far more common over longer-distances. Haven't you ever gone on a road trip with friends???
Solo business travelers will tend to fly, and this is the market HSR claims to be directly competing for. This flying market is far more limited than most think. Long distance trips constitute less than 1% of total trips, so the long-distance market isn't particularly robust in terms of ridership on any mode. The overwhelming amount of travel is within cities and their regions, and HSR does rather little to help urban transit. HSR funds would be much better spent on urban transit systems, both buses and rail.
cruising in a car at 80mph is easy and convenient along I-5ReplyDelete
That's for part of the trip. Once you cross the Grapevine, achieving 8 mph would be a miracle. Unsurprisingly, the door-to-door travel time analyses produced for the HSR project show that taking HSR would take significantly less time than driving.
Solo business travelers will tend to fly
Yes, just like solo business travelers fly from Paris to Lyon and from Tokyo to Osaka all the time...
Do families never fly? I remember when I was looking into a Walt Disney World vacation (decided not to, the place sucks) I noticed deep discounts for travelers with kids. No reason CAHSR can't offer such discounts. Amtrak does kids ride free all the time.ReplyDelete
"Once you cross the Grapevine, achieving 8 mph would be a miracle."ReplyDelete
Not to mention that driving at 80 MPH is less safe than taking a train. It's also illegal.
I can just drive 65 and those behind me have to deal with it or kill me in their rage. My family will collect on my once worthless life. Cha-ching.
I would be willing to drive 70 if I was stupid enough to drive from LA to SF.ReplyDelete
That's for part of the trip. Once you cross the Grapevine, achieving 8 mph would be a miracle. Unsurprisingly, the door-to-door travel time analyses produced for the HSR project show that taking HSR would take significantly less time than driving.ReplyDelete
Alon, just as you don't know Japan and the tiny share of rail traffic that the Shinkansen represents, you don't know LA either. The Grapevine is rarely congested. On a holiday weekend, the approach from LA may be congested, but this is very rare, far from normal. Even within LA, freeway traffic moves much faster than 8mph, and solutions to improving urban freeway speed include HOV lanes and congestion pricing. Better transit is an option, but HSR will do next to nothing to improve LA's road congestion -- you have to be extremely naive or gullible to CHSRA's propaganda to think otherwise. At many times of day, the LA freeways move just fine, but the perception is shaped by the commute peaks. Again, HSR will do next to nothing to address urban congestion. HSR is designed to serve long-distance traffic, which is a miniscule fraction of total traffic movements.
Again, it's not meant to address urban congestion. Urban congestion also needs to be dealt with, in ADDITION to building HSR. That's what having a transportation SYSTEM is all about.
"At many times of day, the LA freeways move just fine"ReplyDelete
I work weekends in LA and sometimes I drive. It can take an hour and a half to two hours to drive between Anaheim and the mid-Wilshire area. Perhaps you should educate yourself on LA traffic.
The 405, 10, 110, 101 and the 710 all have horrible trafic at off-peak hours and on weekends. I drive regularly all over LA County as part of my job so I would know. Some of our vehicles calculate average speed, and sometimes I am lucky to get an average speed of 25 MPH.
As the worst case scenario, an average of 25mph is much better than the "miracle" of 8mph. At many other times of day, the freeways are free-flowing. Compare this to Manila or Bangkok! Also remember that congestion is also a sign of a transportation system's success: people are making heavy use of it.ReplyDelete
To better inform yourself of LA's traffic and how to improve conditions, read the Rand Corporation's recent report "Moving LA".
Again, it's not meant to address urban congestion. Urban congestion also needs to be dealt with, in ADDITION to building HSR.ReplyDelete
The vast majority of the $50 billion will be spent building ROW in urban areas. Something is very wrong if that infrastructure is not leveraged to provide maximum benefit for intraurban services.
Also remember that congestion is also a sign of a transportation system's success: people are making heavy use of it.ReplyDelete
Who cares? By now you're just throwing sand in people's eyes. The Shinkansen has a tiny share of Japanese rail traffic! (I never claimed otherwise - I claimed the Shinkansen has a significant share of Japanese rail revenues.) Congested highways are successful! (As if planners don't try to find ways to make them less congested.) The Grapevine isn't congested! (The LA Basin is, which is exactly what "Once you cross the Grapevine" means.)
The Shinkansen is the small cherry on top of the vast Japanese rail network. The Shinkansen is impressive, but it only works because of the extensive transport network that feeds it. So, Alon, you still think the Shinkansen revenues cover a significant share of the cost to allow the billions of trips taken on the subways and urban private railways of Japan!?! What a laugh!ReplyDelete
The LA basin is congested at times, and it is also one of the most vital economic regions in the world due to its transportation system. Buffalo, NY, Detroit, MI, and many other Rustbelt cities aren't congested, yet they have severe economic problems. What gives?? Oh, yes, congestion is a sign of success. What Buffalo and Detroit wouldn't do for some traffic congestion right now...
Castro's got parking garages? News to me. Where?ReplyDelete
Do you actually live in Mountain View? check out street view on Google Maps.
So, Alon, you still think the Shinkansen revenues cover a significant share of the cost to allow the billions of trips taken on the subways and urban private railways of Japan!?!ReplyDelete
Um, the billions of trips you're talking about cost a couple hundred yen per trip. The 300 million Shinkansen trips can run into the 5 figures - e.g. Tokyo-Osaka at ¥14,000.
So yes. If you don't believe me, check the JR/private railways modal shares, and the JR companies' HSR revenue shares.
And do you still think that the JR companies are primarily intercity services, when the Yamanote Line is entirely inner-urban, and when JR East and JR West both account for half the non-subway rail traffic in their respective metro areas?
Do you actually live in Mountain View? check out street view on Google Maps.ReplyDelete
It's really hard to tell when there are multiple people using Anon, as their nickname. One of them says he's only been down to Castro street a handful of times in decades but another says he's never noticed them. I wouldn't notice them either if I was walking/bicycling/driving along Castro, the entrances are discreetly tucked in on the side streets.
Thanks for the link Amanda, I went and looked harder. I can't really tell from the satellite or street views but it looks like the Mountain View Performing Arts Center has a garage, entrance on Mercy north of Castro. The building behind it on Franklin and Mercy looks like it has a garage with it's entrance almost next to the one for the Performing Arts Center.
The two I could find easily, one is very very obvious on the satellite views, there's a semi circular ramp leading into it. North of Castro on the west side High School Lane. The other one is a bit harder to see, the ramp is in the oval that is the surface parking lot, north of Castro with entrance on the west side of Church. Your link made me go look harder. There's another one on Bryant between Evelyn and Villa or it's on Cherry between Evelyn and Villa, takes up most of the block. Another on the south side of Castro west of Evelyn, not terribly obvious until you look at the shadows it's edges... there's a pedestrian bridge into the building on Castro. . . They've built multiple parking garages in a 6 block stretch... I stopped looking, there's lots of them. Means people want to go there.
Alon, my whole point all along is that urban and regional trip movements are vastly greater than long-distance travel movements, even when adjusted for proportional distances. Japan's rail system readily reflects my point. The Shinkansen is a fancy image-piece (timed to be finished just before the 1964 Olympics of course) that caters to comparatively few long-distance riders and does very little to relieve urban congestion. Japan can make the Shinkansen work, because it has an elaborate network of supportive transit infrastructure(indeed, this includes all the metro JR services and buses too, along with the 16 private passenger rail companies in the metro areas).ReplyDelete
China's leadership is especially attracted by these fancy, shiny, image-y infrastructure projects, because it wants to show both the world and its own repressed population that is has "arrived" in modernity. This is demonstrated by the expensive maglev boondoggle in Shanghai and the proposed vast HSR network that far outstrips the national demand for such fast and expensive long-distance trips. China is still a very poor country on a per capita basis. China would be far better served by spending more of its public funds on urban transit systems in its urban hives and improving the regular intercity train system, both of which more directly serve the Chinese masses. Of course, this touches on the economic class component that is present in almost all infrastructure decisions. It is especially acute when public funds are used for HSR and its core market of business travelers.
By the way, building and maintaining subways isn't cheap. Even all those Tokyo subway fares don't cover all the costs. Essentially all rail transit systems require public subsidy (or land value capture) for effective service, but within reason, the public benefits are worth the subsidy. HSR is just a piece of a much larger whole. HSR should never be considered to be an independent transportation system, because it requires a great deal of additional supportive infrastructure.
You can almost never drive 80mph the entire way down I-5 from SF to LA... maybe on Tuesday at 3am, but no other time.
I spent a year traveling between SF & LA at least once month and not a single time was I able to drive the speed limit the whole way, and several times I had to come to a complete stop for about 30 minutes.
Google maps suggests that it takes 6 hours driving the speed limit, but driving with traffic takes 7.5 hours.
Congestion is not a sign of a transit system's success, it is merely a sign that there is more demand than there is capacity. If your supposition were true, every freeway in the nation would suddenly be less successful this year, but the fact is fewer people are driving because they have lost their jobs.
HSR is not designed to target families of five, and does not need a single one to ride to make it a successful and operationally profitable service, so why do you keep talking about that?
Central Valley cities have no airports, so they have no option but to drive. When HSR comes many of them will take that as it is much more pleasant.
Yes local transit should be improved, we suggest taking money from the overbuilt and highly subsidized highway system and transfer it to local transit improvements. There is no reason HSR & local transit have to fight for the scraps.
LA traffic is horrible, and endless freeway expansions and extensions have done nothing to change that. There is traffic somewhere in LA at all times of the day and night (I've been caught in traffic jams at 3am & 4am, weekdays & weekends)
I prefer to fly to LA now, I fly with my fiance, even though it's much more expensive and unpleasant than driving (Although with the random traffic, driving is not particularly pleasant either).
When HSR is here I will happily take a cheaper, faster (door to door), more convenient, and more comfortable ride on the train, and I will do it more frequently than I fly now.
I might even take the train down to the peninsula. I almost never go there today because I hate driving on 101.
Anon, bear in mind that I agree that connecting transit is necessary for HSR to succeed. But I have 3 points to say about your comment:ReplyDelete
1. China is building local transit, as well. It's expanding its subway systems at breakneck pace: Shanghai Metro, the most extreme example, opened in 1995 and already has 10 lines and 334 route-km.
2. Tokyo's subway has two systems - Tokyo Metro and Toei. Tokyo Metro is profitable - it gets a little bit of subsidy, but either the net profit or the taxes it pays are more than enough to cover the subsidy; counting both taxes and profits minus subsidies yields a farebox recovery ratio of about 110%. Toei is not profitable - it runs at a farebox recovery ratio of about 90%. I believe that combined the two systems are slightly above 100%, but I'm not sure.
3. LA and SF both have decent connecting transit, if all you want is to get to LAUS or TBT. Their networks are bad at getting passengers to any other destination, killing ridership, but they're okay HSR feeders. The real problems in both areas come from feeding the secondary stations, including San Jose. (If anything, the problems in LA are worse than in the Bay Area.)
Their networks are bad at getting passengers to any other destinationReplyDelete
I get around anywhere in SF easily. Sometimes there's a bit of a wait for a bus but then I have don't have the same expectations for the bus lumbering up and down Filmore as I do for the the one on Geary or Van Ness. It's very very difficult to go more than 5 or 6 blocks before you get to the next bus line. How much more network do you want?
I get around anywhere in SF easily.ReplyDelete
Oh, in SF itself, transit is decent. The problem is the rest of the Bay Area.
How much more network do you want?
Enough that Greater SF's transit mode share would be higher than 14%. Right now the national average in Canada is 15%. Calgary is at 16% - that would be the Kotkin-approved world capital of oil barons. Forget Japan, or Switzerland, or even Greater New York...
Enough that Greater SF's transit mode share would be higher than 14%. Right now the national average in Canada is 15%...ReplyDelete
The Bay Area would have to get more congested, it's too easy to drive and park. Too cheap too. Or they have to turn San Francisco into the Loop. . . which would make it more congested and more expensive to drive.
Greater Chicago's transit modal share is 11% (see link). More than any other US metro area, Chicago has a problem with transit being great for trips to downtown and crappy for all other trips.ReplyDelete
Greater Chicago's transit modal share is 11% (see link).ReplyDelete
They are massaging numbers. They are using San Francisco's MSA which doesn't include San Jose then compare it to Chicago's CSA which includes farmland in Illinois and Indiana. Transportation needs and use are going to be different out in farmland than in Oakland and Berkeley.
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet is an MSA, not a CSA. The CSA is called Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City.ReplyDelete
There's still farmland between Chicago and Joilet. It's being swallowed by exurbia but there's still farmland.ReplyDelete
Using round numbers, Chicagoland has 9.5 million people. 2.8 million of them live in Chicago itself. 5.2 million of them live in Cook County. 28 percent of the households in Chicago do not have an automobile. Can't find numbers easily for Cook County.
Using round numbers, the Bay Area has 7.3 million. 800,000 people live in San Francisco itself. 28 percent of the households in San Francisco are carfree, 19 percent in Oakland, 17 percent in Berkeley.
For comparsion sake it's 27 percent in Yonkers, NY, 19 percent in Gary, IN., 16 percent in Los Angeles.
Much rounder numbers. If a third of the people in Chicagoland live in Chicago and a third of the households in Chicago live car free 10 percent of the households in Chicagoland live carfree. They aren't walking everywhere. They are using the bus and the El to get around. What's the carfree percentage in the Bay Area? ... it's going to be lower.
Still with nice round numbers. The El carries 600,000 passengers every day. Or 6% of the population. BART carries 5%. Metra carries 150,000 a day or 1.5% of the population. CTA buses carry a million people a day.
...so with 30-35% more population Chicago has 50% more riders on the El than on BART and Metra has 400% more riders than Caltrain. There's something wrong with 11%. Or there's something wrong with 14%.
The Chicago numbers you give include all rail transit; the Bay Area numbers exclude Muni. There may also be higher bus ridership in the Bay Area because of the bottlenecks around SF - I can't find data either way right now.ReplyDelete
Also, the Chicago numbers include almost all of the 9.5 million people in the metro area. The Bay Area numbers don't; excluding Caltrain, whose current ridership is a rounding error, all transit is included in the five-county MSA.
Slick. I like it.ReplyDelete
It even opens up the possibility of future VTA expansion in a potentially useful direction, which was previously impossible.