On Tuesday, Sept. 3, our City Council will reconvene after the summer break and consider whether or not to give final approval to the Shoreline Boulevard reversible bus lane. The last time this was considered was three years ago, when a very different council approved (6-1) a conceptual plan with many details to be worked out. The detailed plan will probably not be released until the Thursday before the meeting, but there are several things the council should be prepared to scrutinize.
First, the number of transit vehicles which currently use Shoreline is low. A 2019 study found that only 16% of transit riders entered through the Shoreline gateway, and probably many of those vehicles used the freeways and not Shoreline. I personally counted only 44 transit vehicles headed north from Middlefield Road on a typical morning last year.
Second, a significant number of people must be convinced to ride the shuttles in order to reduce congestion from single occupancy vehicles. Google employees are well-served by their own buses, very few of which use Shoreline. A 2016 study found that one-third of North Bayshore employees lived less than 5 miles away so they were unlikely to take transit. A large number of single occupancy vehicles come from areas south of Mountain View, but these areas are poorly served by VTA and Caltrain that connect to the transit center, which the bus lane was aimed at. The reversible bus lane has been estimated to shave only about five minutes off of the Shoreline corridor commute, not likely to convince someone to take public transit.
Finally, the possible benefits of the bus lane must not be offset by making congestion worse, but the preemptive signal timing on Shoreline and the prohibition of right turns on red at the protected intersection planned for Middlefield are likely to do just that. In addition, the northbound Shoreline on-ramp to Highway 85 will be eliminated. All this for a project that will cost upwards of $12 million, which can only possibly help with the morning commute. If detailed simulation and analysis shows that the reversible bus lane will help, then by all means the project should go forward. Otherwise, the problem should be studied further so that a better solution can be found.
San Lucas Avenue
A step backwards
Why does Caltrain refuse to listen to the thoroughly thought-through ideas of the people who are affected by their decision about bike cars — the bike commuters? And why is the Caltrain board willing to break its promise about the quantity of bike spaces? Electric trains will have only seven folding seats within view of 36 bike spaces and 72 bike spaces per train. Today's diesel trains have up to 34 fixed seats within view of 40 bike spaces and 77 bike spaces per train on average.
What a step backwards. Instead of designing a good layout for bike cars before they are built, Caltrain will be faced with expensive retrofit costs when the design fails in the field. I really do not understand Caltrain's logic.
We are Caltrain customers. Who benefits more from the designs Caltrain approved? We certainly do not.