The Voice reported last June 24 that the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) had just met with the seven-member Mountain View City Council about a plan for new buses on El Camino — including dedicated bus lanes in each direction. According to the article, only two council members, Margaret Abe-Koga and Ronit Bryant, were sympathetic to the plan. The chief planner from the VTA, Steven Fisher, told the council that the state agency in charge of El Camino (Caltrans) would not permit a project in Mountain View to which was not supported by the city.
It turns out that the VTA had made the same pitch to the Sunnyvale City Council on May 22, but that council had voted against dedicated bus lanes. In response, the VTA canceled a meeting with the Palo Alto City Council and scheduled only an informal presentation to the Mountain View council with no voting requested.
On Nov. 1, the VTA board of directors (which includes Margaret Abe-Koga as this area's representative) voted to proceed with an environmental review of the VTA's bus plan. Under the $200 million "optimal" plan, dedicated bus lanes would not extend north of Showers Drive in Mountain View. In other words, the rich and powerful from Los Altos (at San Antonio Road) and Palo Alto would not be burdened.
Dedicated bus lanes with traffic light preference and boarding stations in the center of the roadway would not only slow traffic on El Camino, but would also slow crossing at each intersection. The paucity of riders will not change even when it becomes even harder to drive because few places of work are within walking distance of El Camino Real.
It is great that someone has a plan for El Camino Real. It is under-utilized. But not every plan is consistent with the interests of existing residents.