News

Last stop for Evelyn light rail station?

VTA proposes closure of Mountain View's least-used station

On Aug. 7, Valley Transportation Authority board members will vote on whether to close Mountain View's Evelyn Avenue light rail station -- said to be the second least-popular station in the entire light rail system.

The move to demolish the station is proposed as part of a $63 million plan. The Evelyn station stands directly in the way of a plan to run a second light rail track into downtown Mountain View, as VTA officials say the existing single track is a bottleneck preventing more frequent and reliable service. Trains currently run every 15 minutes during rush hour, and officials have talked about running trains every 7 minutes.

While it may mean faster service for a trolley that has often been criticized for being slow and inconvenient, not everyone will be pleased to lose the Evelyn station. It serves only 94 people a day. For comparison, the downtown light rail station serves 1,386 people daily.

"It's going to be terrible," said Prasamma Viswakumar, who said his home is a 10-minute drive away and finds the Evelyn station's free park-and-ride lot to be a reliable place to find parking spot. He said he wouldn't even consider trying to park downtown. Another user agreed, saying he uses the station as a way to get to the downtown Caltrain station, to ride Caltrain to work. "I have a monthly parking pass, but I can't find parking (downtown), I don't even bother."

Another man who works nearby said he normally skips light rail for Caltrain, but finds the station a convenient way to get to Hacker Dojo for events -- "Just hop on the train, go two stops and there it is."

VTA staff say Evelyn station users can instead use the light rail station at Whisman Station, which isn't very far away, but there is limited parking there as well.

The plan to improve service happens to coincide with the anticipated spike in use to come from Levi's Stadium events, where parking will be expensive and limited enough that about 600 drivers are expected to park in and around downtown Mountain View and ride light rail for 30 minutes to get to the stadium.

Despite the inconvenience for some, VTA officials say it is more important to remove the bottleneck, which can affect on the whole system if there's a failure or collision on the single track in Mountain View.

"If something happens on that track and it closes -- that has effects throughout the system -- it has a ripple effect," said VTA spokeswoman Colleen Valles. Two tracks will "allow more flexibility and more reliability in the area."

If approved on August, construction and demolition work will begin soon after to add the new track, which would extend from the north side of Central Expressway to the downtown station. Light rail service will continue during construction, Valles said.

Included in the $63 million price is a slight realignment of the Caltrain tracks near the Evelyn Station to make way for the second light rail track.

While the Evelyn station will close, its free parking lot will remain open to the non-light rail users who have apparently been parking there. While Caltrain and the city will charge $10 to park downtown, Valles added that VTA doesn't plan to charge Levi's stadium users to park at its light rail lots, except at the River Oaks and Highway 880/Milpitas stations.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr PC
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Re: Evelyn Station - Please consider showing a map to help identify where the station is. This would be helpful for many of your stories.

Thanks


 +   Like this comment
Posted by @ Mr PC
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Mr. PC, let me introduce you to Mrs. Google Maps. She helps in lots of ways.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV2
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Mr.PC's right, include map to show the location in question would help ease conversation. sure, we can all Google but a little step on the side of the author would save a lot more readers efforts and make it easier to participate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Why didn't they do the necessary upgrade in conjunction with the building of Levi Stadium? It's going to be a cluster-you-know-what now!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Wouldn't closing this station just overload the end of the line even more, which is downtown MV, where fear of overwhelming crowds is already prompting parking time limits and charges?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Does anyone know why Light Rail was single-tracked into downtown in the first place?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Take a Hike
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Evelyn Station may be close to Whisman by tram, but how close is it by other means: walking, bike, car, bus? For starters, how are we expected to get across the Caltrain tracks and Central Expressway?

Here's Google's way: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2014 at 10:29 pm

@Linda Curtis - "Wouldn't closing this station just overload the end of the line even more, which is downtown MV, where fear of overwhelming crowds is already prompting parking time limits and charges?"

That may be somewhat true on Levi's Stadium event days - although from Google Maps it looks like the Evelyn station parking lot only holds maybe 150 or 175 cars, which wouldn't do much to ease the crunch downtown. But keep in mind that big events that will fill up Levi's stadium will only occur maybe 20 or 25 days a year. The other 340 days, light rail will be doing its usual thing and Evelyn will be a ghost town. If you kept Evelyn open and couldn't add the extra track, on those other 340 days people would continue to be inconvenienced by slow or unreliable trains.

If you've ever been on light rail heading into MV to catch Caltrain and had to wait while a train in the opposite direction came through, you know how much this is needed. The question comes down to: should we keep Evelyn open for the 25 days at the expense of the 340? Light rail may be slow now, but I think VTA is doing the right thing here in trying to improve it.


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Posted by John Murphy
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2014 at 10:39 am

Simple - put a bike share kiosk at the Evelyn lot. It's probably faster to ride from the parking lot to downtown than it is to walk from the lot to the Evelyn station, let alone wait for the train, take the train, and exit from the MV station.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Makfan
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2014 at 10:40 am

I work near MIddlefield station and I get caught by the light rail single track bottleneck regularly. Reliability has been TERRIBLE lately. Sometimes I miss my Caltrain connection while we sit at Whisman waiting for the Winchester train to clear the single track.

However, it is not easy to walk from Whisman to downtown Mountain View. For those who live near there, it is going to be a hit. Ridership numbers are pretty low, though. Sometimes you have to inconvenience 100 people to make the system work better for the others.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Makfan
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2014 at 10:41 am

Bike share is an interesting idea. I would bike share a lot if there were one near my office.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm

@John Murphy -

There is a bike share kiosk at the Evelyn parking lot right now. See the map of Bay Area Bike Share locations here: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:56 am

That would be the station between 85 and Whisman rd., right? Well, access is very poor for that station. If you want it to get used more, then put a tunnel starting at the end of ADA avenue that runs under the expressway and tracks so folks can get to it, just as one does at the San Antonio Caltrain station. The other side of Central Expressway, directly across from the Evelyn station, is where all the people are.!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Jackson Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 6:02 am

One more thing...the though of Central Expressway traffic being blocked every 7 minutes by slow-moving electic trains instead of every 15 really disturbs me. Traffic gets heavy enough in that area as it is during commute hours If trains are going to cross it that often, then I hope a tunnel under said roadway for the train is in the plans.


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