The regional plan for dedicated bus lanes on El Camino Real (from San Jose to South San Francisco) is an example of special interests running over local concerns. In Santa Clara County, the bus-only lanes are being imposed by a bureaucracy called the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), with most of its oversight board consisting of politicians elected in San Jose.
Of the two council members talking about running for state Assembly, Margaret Abe-Koga has been an advocate of the bus-only lanes and Michael Kasperzak has never been quoted (that I have read) as having any position at all. Council members should be organizing a campaign against the bus-only lanes — perhaps even placing advisory measures on the local ballot in affected cities.
So far, it appears that no Mountain View council member has done anything to head off the VTA's plan to get folks out of their cars and into buses that will transport them nowhere they need to go.
Proceed with skepticism
There are some serious misconceptions about replacing car lanes with bus lanes on El Camino.
"Resident and bike advocate Janet Lafleur said the VTA's report showed minimal impacts to drivers ...." (The Voice, Dec. 19). VTA's claim that auto travel time through the corridor will increase only three to four minutes is clearly implausible. One lane on El Camino handles 950 cars per hour. VTA is not assuming those drivers will jump on a bus.
If you read the full report, instead of just looking at the glossy charts, you'll see that VTA's plan assumes those drivers would divert to alternate routes — e.g., Foothill or Central, which are already at capacity.
As the council noted, this would have a major impact on residential streets, as frustrated drivers cut through neighborhoods. The VTA report includes a section on "diversion," listing areas where diverted traffic would cause problems. "The issue seems to have divided older, more established residents ... against younger residents and employees with different preferences and environmental concerns."
Making this a generational issue is counterproductive. It's not just the young who have environmental concerns. Many of us have been actively supporting environmental causes before millennials were born.
Cars idling in stalled traffic will generate even more greenhouse gases. If not sitting on El Camino with engines running, they'll divert through residential streets bringing exhaust fumes — plus added traffic dangers — to kids and pedestrians in quiet communities with narrow streets.
Approach the VTA hype with healthy skepticism.
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