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Editorial: Unfortunately, the pod car never took off

Original post made on Apr 1, 2014

Mountain View residents who may have dreamed of seeing a space-age transportation system of "pod cars" strung along Shoreline Boulevard between downtown and the North Bayshore had to be disappointed when the City Council pulled the plug on a small investment in the experimental system proposed by SkyTran.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 10:35 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by Steven A., a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Seems kind of expensive. Why not just run a bus shuttle up and down Shoreline Ave.?


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Buses and Shuttles get stuck in the same traffic.


Posted by Hmm, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Instead of the word unfortunately in the title, it should read fortunately. The whole thing would look ugly above ground and way too expensive for the few people it will transport.


Posted by The Bell Tolls, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

A simple solution: (1) Erect tollbooths at Shoreline and Rengstorff north of 101. (2) Charge a $5, $10, or $20 congestion toll anytime traffic is heavy; these are out-of-town googlers and they can afford it. (3) Fund more city parks with the proceeds.

At $20/visit you will see people's car driving behavior change. Just the mere discussion of this will cause GOOG to change. GOOG does not care one bit about traffic; what they care about is money. Threaten to take $20 out of their employee's pockets on a daily basis and they will suddenly seem concerned with MntView traffic.

This works in London, it can work here.


Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

We need a high-speed link from the Caltrain/Light Rail/bus terminal to Google/Microsoft/LinkedIn/Intuit/NASA. That way, their employees could live anywhere served by Caltrain or Light Rail, and in a couple of years Bart, and take public transportation to work. The alternative is worsening gridlock.

In the long run, driverless cars will be the answer, but that is yaers off.


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

Steven A said: "Seems kind of expensive. Why not just run a bus shuttle up and down Shoreline Ave?"
Garrett said: "Buses and Shuttles get stuck in the same traffic."

I have been proposing a very simple potential solution to the problem of rush hour traffic on on Shoreline for a couple of years now during public comment time at City Council study sessions and council meetings.

The City should paint rhombuses in the left hand lanes of Shoreline, and on the NB side, put up a sign that says, 7 AM - 10 AM, vehicles with N or more riders only, and on the SB side, put up a sign that says, 4 PM - 7 PM, vehicles with N or more riders only. Have strict enforcement until people realize they need to follow the rule.

If N isn't high enough to enable the shuttles from Caltrain to make it along the left hand lane unimpeded, increase N until they can.

What's wrong with this? If the whole experiment doesn't work, we can paint over the rhombuses and go back to pod cars and drones, or whatever. But we should stop dilly-dallying and try a simple solution like this one first.


Posted by Steve, a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Here in the land of venture capital and visionary thinking... the fact that nobody with money is willing to waive a measely $75K at this idea speaks volumes: It's a joke. It's a con. It's a scam. A band of merry pranksters trying to get rich off mismanaged silicon valley tax dollars.
Sky Tran must be disheartened. After all, didn't we just pay some even-more-absurd bicycle sharing plan about 50 times that?
It isn't unfortunate. Surprising, for sure, nut not unfortunate.


Posted by Mike H, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Many communities with similar congestion problems are considering "Bus Rapid Transit" or BRT. Sometimes called Surface Subway, it basically combines the best traits of light-rail (off-board fare collection, platform loading, intersection stoplight priority, dedicated center lane alignment) with the best traits of buses (lower initial expense, flexibility). Seems like this could work for the Shoreline corridor. Check the Wikipedia entry for Bus Rapid Transit to learn more.


Posted by PA Resident, a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2014 at 5:23 pm

The Silicon Valley has infrastructure that is so last century and it is amazing since there are so many innovative residents. I think it must be the politicians who are adamant about preventing the Bay Area from getting ahead when it comes to traffic, public transit and out of the box thinking.

Google and other companies have engineers who can imagine great solutions to real life problems. Unfortunately the powers that be won't let them.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2014 at 6:35 pm

BRT to work it needs full or partial dedicated right away to avoid traffic, congestion and avoid delay.

It is cheaper then a subway but yes the roads need to be redesign, this seems to be easier then trying to secure funding for a El Camino Real subway.

Why not study the idea of turning Central Expressway into a BRT route system with bus lines feeding on and off to other points. High Density, Office Parks other street connectors, Central areas and San Jose Airport right at the end. Yes the Airport Express Bus, The Levi Shuttle.


Posted by Other People's Money, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 1, 2014 at 7:07 pm

If the editor is so thoroughly convinced, perhaps he'd like to invest 75K in a for profit version?


Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 2, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Converting a lane of Shoreline Boulevard or Central Expressway to BRT will decrease automobile throughput by 50. That is O.K. if you reduce the number of Cars by 50%, or more. However, I anticipate a reduction of only 10%, or so, thus exacerbating an already bad situation.

Does anyone have any data from cities that converted lanes to BRT?


Posted by Steve, a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 6:48 am

Very fortunate our council exercised clear thinking this time (wish they'd do likewise with all the excessive development issues). My hometown is Mountain View, not Disney's Tomorrowland.

Set up experimental tracks somewhere else out of the people's way for testing, find and fix all the bugs in the tech and operations to mature the idea, THEN offer it to a city. Don't use M.V. as a lab rat, please. Last thing we need here is a sky full of abandoned monorail tracks due to poor planning.


Posted by Garrett83, a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2014 at 11:12 am

Garrett83 is a registered user.

How else do we move people around? The idea of building more roads won't help and won't be cheap.


Posted by Henny Penny, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Don't worry, Garrett83: between Fukushima and the TCE contamination, synergistically interacting with the chloramine in the tap water, there'll be nobody around but cancer patients and juiced raw hemp franchises.


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

For anyone who's interested in looking at the Shoreline studies that have been done, they are all available here:

Web Link


Posted by @Garrett83, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

It's not about building new roads, just making the existing ones wider. Have better monitoring of street lights, to accommodate for the heavy traffic areas. Just like internet traffic, it's all manageable in a nice way, just needs to be done.


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