http://mv-voice.com/square/print/2014/04/11/vta-open-house-disappointing


Town Square

VTA Open House Disappointing

Original post made by Jim Neal, Old Mountain View, on Apr 11, 2014

I attended the VTA's open house Wednesday expecting to hear something that I hadn't heard before regarding the BRT Lanes and the proposed toll lanes being put into effect throughout Santa Clara County. What I got instead was a bunch of slick flyers and I don't knows. The few questions that were answered sounded very much like the canned replies that I got from every other VTA rep that I've spoken with.

First I asked about the toll lanes and what their purpose was. I was given a song and dance about how wonderful they will be, and how they will alleviate rush hour traffic, and provide added revenue for other projects. AHA! I said to myself, it always comes down to the money!

I then asked why more money was needed for road projects when our gas taxes ostensibly go to maintain and construct roads and bridges? And followed up with "I know that a portion of taxes on fuel also get redirected into the General Fund, how do I know that the same thing won't happen with toll lane revenues?"

The rep explained to me that this could never possibly happen because the State Legislature has strictly authorized the funds to take care of roads and "other" transit projects. (Hmmm didn't they say the same thing about the funds for High Speed Rail?)

That told me all I needed to know. The Legislature can repurpose funds faster than you can say "What the?". They raised the fuel tax by 3.5 cents last year and avoided sending it to the voters by pulling a fast one as shown here in this San Jose Mercury article:

Web Link

It is quite ironic that the VTA wants to raise funds from people using their cars to fund Mass Transit projects. If everyone stops using their cars (as appears to be the goal) how will these projects then be paid for?

Make no mistake, this is basically a new tax that will result in more accidents and will disproportionately impact those will low incomes who will either be forced to wait in bumper to bumper traffic, or pay for the privilege of driving on roads that have already been paid for.

I then went to get more information on the BRT Lanes. The slick brochure implies that it will provide more jobs and more income to the area while providing better transportation. We all know that the major provider of Jobs here is Google and there is no way VTA will ever be able to compete with them. On top of that, the new plan does not even address getting people in and out of the major employment hub located in the North Bayshore. When I told the VTA rep that it cost me $8 to go round trip to North Bayshore from my house less than 3 miles away and only about 25 cents to do it in my car, he had no answer.

I am sure that these projects will provide more jobs for the VTA, but I do not believe they will do much for Mountain View other than creating more gridlock; and that taking these BRT buses will be very expensive unless they are heavily subsidized.

Lastly, the presentation itself consisted of one VTA rep speaking for a few minutes and then we were allowed to "mingle". We had no opportunity to speak out in a public forum setting. This indicated to me that as with most agencies, they are not really interested in hearing (and letting the community hear) what the public thinks, but merely pushing through yet more projects that we don't want and don't need.


Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
Web Link - Campaign Website
info@electneal.org

Comments

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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Can someone explain how toll lanes on 101 will get people to SFO and SJC without missing their flights?

101 is so bad here that it is no longer a reliable route to the airports and public transport is so bad that it is not a high speed alternative to getting someone to give you a ride. Will shuttles be able to use toll lanes?3hf


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Posted by OMV Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Great work, Investigator Neal.

You go into an open house with an obvious, ideological point of view, ask a few slanted questions of the presenters. filter the responses through the blinders of your own viewpoint, and then write up a one-sided, condescending opinion piece for the local paper.

I think my favorite is your question about the cost comparison of getting to North Bayshore on transit vs. in your car. Please, tell me what magical fairy dust you've discovered that lets you operate your car 6 miles for a total of 25 cents - or about 4 cents a mile! Let's see... assuming even 50 miles to the gallon (pretty generous, given that the average CAFE standard for new vehicles in the US is about 30 mpg), that's 1/8th of a gallon of fuel, and with gas at $4 a gallon, that's about 50 cents. How again do you do it for 25 cents? And I'd especially like to know how you operate your car for no other cost than the price of gas (and apparently you get your gas for $2/gal while the rest of us suckers have to pay $4/gal). I guess you didn't pay anything to buy your car, you pay nothing for insurance, nothing for registration, nothing for maintenance. In Jim Neal's ideological fairyland, cars operate at 4 cents per mile (even though the IRS mileage expense rate for 2014 is 56 cents/mile), so transit is always the loser.

Thanks, Jim, for helping shed even more light on your ideology for prospective voters in Mountain View. It's very informative.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I skipped that party... but like most parties, once you know who the host is you'll know if you want to go. Any soiree hosted by a government agency is likely to be just for marketing and feelgood purposes. As if VTA could really give a **** about our differing viewpoints!


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Posted by Another OMV resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 14, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Thanks for the personal report, Mr. Neal.

"We had no opportunity to speak out in a public forum setting."

VTA used a more standard format, with public Q&A, a few years ago when they presented a progress report about Light Rail, in MV's City Council chamber. (Incidentally, that presentation included several comparisons with other modern light-rail systems nationwide. In those comparisons, VTA always had the lowest ridership, as % of capacity, around 20-30%. When questioned about this by the audience, VTA's rep acknowledged it was due mainly to the system's geographical routes, but predicted that further evolution would improve usage.)

Also, some VTA employees, including at least one outspoken manager/advocate, live in Old Mtn View. It is impossible to rule out that such personnel wrote any sniping comments here on the subject, such as one already posted.

Margaret Abe-Koga wrote a Voice guest Opinion article (below) defending the BRT proposal from recent criticism. What came across strikingly in that piece was that she stressed potential benefits, and VTA's benevolent social engineering role ("planning so that we can meet the variety of competing needs that will arise," etc) -- yet not one word about BRT's screamingly-obvious downside, the elephant in the room: removal of traffic lanes on El Camino Real. It was the writing of a convinced BRT advocate, not an objective enquirer.

The actual history of social-engineering projects by people who see themselves as enlightened is a history of "unintended" yet utterly predictable bad consequences. From Prohibition a century ago, to San Francisco neighborhood parking starvation based on the theory that visitors will shun cars (instead, they drive more, cruising for scarce parking spaces). If lane reduction for an "enlightened" BRT scheme creates gridlock nightmare on ECR and nearby neighborhood streets, it will not have been unforseeable, nor forgiveable, nor easy to fix -- if VTA has its way, and makes physical changes to the peninsula's main street.

Web Link


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Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm

@OMV Resident - I must have really hit a nerve! Did I go into the meeting with pre-conceived notions? You bet! But only because I have been attending City Council Meetings and EPC meetings where these same issues are discussed, and I get first-hand information on what is going on at the meetings and from the VTA website! I was actually hoping that they would be able to say at least something that would change my mind, but unfortunately what they told me was actually worse than what I thought to begin with.

As far as you disputing my cost per gallon, it was a rough estimate on my part divided by two. You see I rarely go to the North Bayshore without my wife. For the two of us to go on public transportation is $16 round trip, so I divided that in half also to get the $8. But if you want to quibble, then let us say that you are correct and it costs my wife and I 50 cents by car and $16 by public transit.

Also, I see that you may not be familiar with any of my prior posts or I think you would have mentioned how proud you are of the fact that I have not even driven my car for the last 18 months. It is a personal choice that I have made for myself, but I do not intend to impose my choice on others. However, it has given me quite a keen insight into how public transportation functions (or doesn't) throughout the Peninsula and South Bay areas.

Lastly, if you truly want to know my ideology, instead of casting aspersions and making assumptions, come talk to me at any City Council meeting and introduce yourself. I love talking to people about what's on their minds and if you have any facts that the VTA failed to present I'm more than willing to hear them. If Council Meetings don't work for you, email me and I will be very happy to meet with you one on one. Weekends work best for me, and I can meet you anywhere that is close to downtown as I have a leg injury that will require 8 weeks of rehab so I can't walk quite as far as I used to right now. I look forward to meeting you.


Jim Neal
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
Web Link (campaign website)
info@electneal.org