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Council not sold on dedicated El Camino bus lanes

Original post made on Dec 19, 2014

After hearing from a dozen supporters on Tuesday night, the Mountain View City Council continued to lean against allowing dedicated bus lanes on El Camino Real.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 19, 2014, 12:09 PM

Comments (76)

16 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:21 pm

"If we discourage people from driving and encourage them to take transit, such as by dedicating lanes to buses, that would be a net positive."

It all sounds neat and attractive to people like that speaker (the one with no driving license) -- who DO have the flexibility to choose their commute method, and also DON'T have much experience driving in ECR car gridlock.

The limitation of that mind-set is that apparently they'll never understand that not everyone has the same options they do. Some people have to drive cars. So a few percent may switch to BRT and call it a "net positive." The remaining majority will see gridlock exacerbated -- or cut through neighborhoods.

Some of the people speaking like that don't even live in or near Mountain View!


11 people like this
Posted by Concerned driver
a resident of Bailey Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm

"The cost to drivers is a five-minute delay for the same trip, according the VTA report." Only 5 mins? That is some misleading report. Perhaps 5 mins per block if there are only two lanes. This is a waste of money.


3 people like this
Posted by Dave W
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Can someone explain why Inks abstained? I understand the recusals by the two other council members but why the abstention. If Councilmember Inks didn't like the motion on the table, he should vote against it. The council is elected to act on the issues not decide which they would like to vote on.

If there is a good reason for the abstention then I will back off.


11 people like this
Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:48 pm

This El Camino thing will only work for those who live and work on the EL. Everyone else will suffer big time!


15 people like this
Posted by juan Olive
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Dear City council
How's your Utopia coming along?


8 people like this
Posted by Five minutes
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Five minutes is a small sacrifice to pay in order to save bus riders 35 minutes. Another way to look at it is the round trip costs. 10 minutes added to your daily commute will save 70 minutes from another.

I think us car drivers need to be a little less selfish and support the proposal.


21 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Never trust a study commissioned by someone (or agency) with an agenda. The VTA's travel time figures fail the 'common sense' test miserably.
Since they can't coax us to use their farce of mass transit, their next option is to scr*w us into using it.


21 people like this
Posted by Brenda
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I am a resident and homeowner in Mountain View and I will vote out anyone in City Council who supports this initiative.


15 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

We must presume that the data, the assumptions, and the calculations in the VTA's so-called report all are grossly biased in favor of their chosen option --- just as the Light Rail System's benefits, ridership, and operating revenues were grossly overstated by the VTA and its supporters. We must also assume that the VTA will force through some modifications to El Camino Real, no matter how ill conceived and destructive they may be. This is how powerful bureaucracies behave. A previous article in The Voice mentioned that Palo Alto already is considering a far less invasive change in which the outer (not the inner) lane is converted into a mixed use lane for cars and buses with wide-outs for buses to minimize the impact that bus stops have on traffic flow. Mountain View should consider studying Palo Alto's proposal to see if it has merit as an alternative to the VTA's nightmare proposal.


12 people like this
Posted by Grog
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm

This is such a bad idea. I seem to recall the City Council saying no at one other time to one of these proposals. How many times is it a bad idea before someone just gives up? Traffic flow will be dramatically impacted during peak times. If not you are delusional to think that better bus travel translates to people giving up their cars... So, it is California Ave in Palo Alto all over again, "no really, going from 4 lanes to 2 will not have an impact on traffic!" Try travelling West Bound on El Camino toward Grant during morning or evening rush hour after you have lost a lane. How about from Calderon West to Castro.......losing a lane? it can't possibly effect the flow rates. These areas already experience over capacity conditions at least 2 to 4 hours every day. It will jump to 6 or more. Overall it may be a minimal impact, but peak hours will make you want to pull teeth. Why is that? For better bus service? Really? Who's been drinking what?


11 people like this
Posted by Glenn Meier
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm

If this proposal goes through I will be driving side streets as much as possible.


8 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

This appears to only benefit commuters, not homeowners who live along the ECR corridor in MV. I already try to avoid the intersection of Grant and ECR because of congestion. I don't want more cars driving around the Sylvan Park area to get somewhere else. I want to be able to get across ECR without it taking even more time than it already does. Why propose ending the lane at 85? End it at or before Sylvan!


7 people like this
Posted by Waldo
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Waldo is a registered user.

The VTA sponsored study says removing one lane in each direction adds merely five minutes to automobile commute time between Palo Alto and San Jose. What? Removing 33% of the lanes increases commute time less than 10%?


7 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm

I think people are confused about the short delay when the lane is "closed". When an accident happens and blocks a lane, the delay is much greater. That is an apples and oranges comparison.

A bus lane is planned to optimize traffic flow. Lights are scheduled for this scenario. Lines, medians, signage are there to keep things clear. Drivers become accustomed to the dedicated lane. That is why the delay is so much shorter than a car accident or short term construction projects blocking lanes.

Fortunately, we have professional traffic engineers that will be able to provide accurate prediction models. As entertaining all these amateur "citizen" opinions are, they will do little to sway the actual decision.


21 people like this
Posted by Greg Perry
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 6:08 pm

We should assume that current VTA public transit projections hold exactly as much truth as pas VTA public transit projections: none.

VTA already promised us, among other things, that BART would be built to Santa Clara by 2010, that light rail would be profitable, and that VTA would operate 750 buses each weekday. Each time, the forecast changed after they had money and permission to start.

Whenever VTA is asking permission for a public transit project, the forecast looks wonderful. Once they have a green light, the truth comes out.


8 people like this
Posted by @Greg
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Which document did VTA submit that contained "promises" regarding the existence of BART by 2010, light rail profitability and the operation of 750 VTA buses?

The "5 minute delay" was a result of a *study*, not a "promise". Go examine the study and if you found the methodology wanting, provide some details. So far, the only objections are based around "gut instinct" or "VTA never does anything right."


3 people like this
Posted by Pigs can Fly
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2014 at 6:59 pm

To say that these dedicated lanes all along the 22 route from San Jose to San Antonio in Mountain View would cut a current time of 70 minutes to 35 is just not believable. That is making a lot of assumptions about how things would work out. The current 70 minutes is a best case estimate that may often be met. However, when you rejigger things so you can get 35, you also open up the possibility of a lot more chances for delays. The expectations would be more than 35 minutes.

Even if that is so, this overlooks segmenting the route. For Mountain View workers, what about that option of stopping the dedicated lanes at Highway 85? What about offering continuity from there on up 85 to the North Bayshore? It seems like that's where the demand would be coming from. It's pretty in efficient to cruise through the entire city of Mountain View to take San Antonio or Shoreline to get to the North Bayshore office park. So the dedicate bus lanes would shave the commute from San Jose to Highway 85 down to what allegedly? Is that 25 minutes? If so, that sounds like a winner to me. Then from there, riders can transfer to other routes and spend an extra 10 or 15 minutes to fork off to either North Bayshore or to various stops along El Camino in Mountain View. Note that the shaved route wouldn't make all the stops. It would probably just stop 4 places along El Camino in Mountain View. The current service stops many more places and that would increase the ridership for the service from Highway 85 to points south....


5 people like this
Posted by Pigs Actually Cannot Fly
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2014 at 7:37 pm

70 minutes down to 35 minutes is easy if the buses could travel in a lane that was not gridlocked like it is today. What would cause gridlock if there was a dedicated lane to service buses?

The demand would not be from East Bayshore where Google is. It would be all the minimum wage workers that this area needs in this area to bus our dishes, clean our toilets and slave away in the various stores that peddle chinese manufactured goods. It is all the people that live along El Camino that are currently having to drive back and forth, when a bus could work out quite nicely--if the routes were speedy and predictable.

I know that most of the people that read this board probably do not fit in that category, so could care less...

Finally, you all seemed to have forgotten that emergency vehicles would have access to this lane. Lives WILL be saved.


11 people like this
Posted by Konrad M Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

VTA's 5 minute drive delay estimate us based on the assumption that the 1/3 of drivers who lose their lane will take side streets. If you live on a street parallel to ECR, your traffic will dramatically increase. How many drivers, renters, and home owners will be greatly inconvenienced so a loud minority of bus riders can save a few minutes?


4 people like this
Posted by steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Let's all hold hands and wish really hard that there will be fewer cars on the road - Even as population increases, and that everyone will take the bus even though it serves a limited geographic area. I'm sure its going to be just fine


7 people like this
Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 19, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Bad idea! ECR already has so many distractions, add a bus whizzing past you. This is an accident waiting to happen.

Commuters will take back roads through the neighborhoods hoping to avoid the construction. (Perhaps it will be your home street that becomes the next throughway.)

This is a slippery slope that impacts people's safety and possibly kids playing in front of their own home.

Look at what a failure the "fast" lane is on our freeways. Those lanes are filled with slow traffic also. You have to read the sign to make sure you have enough passengers, check the time, day of the week, if it is a holiday, etc. just to use it. Or worse, when commuter lane has cars doing 65 mph and the lane next to it is stop and go traffic. Inevitably there is one idiot driver pulling out of the slow lane, from a dead stop, into the fast lane right in front of you. It takes nerves of steel and white knuckles to drive in that fast lane.

Council members, you really need to think things all the way through. I will vote the members that vote for this out of office.


4 people like this
Posted by Low Wage Workers
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2014 at 12:10 am

The low wage workers already appear to be the ones riding the 22 bus. You don't really need to make the run faster so that they can live in San Jose and work in MV. We don't have any study to support the idea that they travel that far. Is the idea to evict them from local housing so that MV can be gentrified? The 522 bus is not chiefly populated by low wage workers. I think the people favoring this change are after a higher wage worker. The truth is it would work quite well if there were a cross connection at Highway 85 that went on up to Moffet Blvd and then got off and entered Moffet Field. Google is planning to build a bridge over Stevens Creek to connect over to North Bay Shore's office park. This route could then service the North Bay Shore area as well as Moffet Field. Don't forget a tremendous increase in jobs at Moffet Field is also in the offing. What would you have these people do, drive to work? There's no good service up 101 from San Jose. You can make a better case for the bus rapid transit from San Jose to Highway 85 so long as it also continues on to Moffet Field/North Bayshore. The predominance of the comute-dependent jobs in MV are located and will continue to be located up in this area. More of the jobs in the rest of the city are the ones filled by local residents.

At the same time, the really is cross connection routes that allow transfers from service along ECR. There's hardly any of that at all. Improving this is much more important that speeding up the service along ECR. Start there for crying out loud.


3 people like this
Posted by Low Wage Workers
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2014 at 12:13 am

Also, don't forget that more of the commuters coming from the south live in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara than live in San Jose. You need also to improve the cross connections from these people's homes to ECR. Google does run private buses currently that travel up 85 and 101 and reach ECR in Sunnyvale. One stop is located at the Pollo Loco. You can see it unload several times in the evening. But the Google bus does not serve any other employer in North Bayshore. What a waste. It could run more frequently if it served the whole office park and Moffet Field including the other tenants there like the CMU campus.


6 people like this
Posted by High tech employee
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2014 at 12:22 am

I don't care about the low wage worker. If they aren't smart enough to get a tech job, then they deserve 3-4 hour bus commutes. What we really need are free fast shuttles that take us from our 3,000/month apartments to our high six-figure jobs. That's what we deserve, since we are wealthy.


4 people like this
Posted by Driver
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 20, 2014 at 5:18 am

Do people still actually use ECR to get around town in a car. For years now I've had my system of side streets in MV I throttle through to save time. I'm thinking of creating a MV Throttle App


14 people like this
Posted by B Minkin
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 20, 2014 at 9:22 am

The methodology that VTA uses is opaque. They refuse to publish their models, despite several requests to do that from speakers in open forums. If these were reliable estimates performed by traffic engineers, we would be able to see them and understand how they arrived at their unbelievable estimates of a five-minute delay for auto traffic.

Even if all that traffic was to use to use side streets, the model would reveal the additional delays through those streets. Let's see the numbers, VTA. The answer is always no.

One speaker at these meetings offers another practical way to verify those estimates. Before building this absurdity, test the assertion of a five-minute delay by blocking the lane with cones. After a week of eliminating the lane, let's see how that works. VTA's answer: a cowardly no.


4 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

I do not believe the VTA estimates of the impact of dedicated bus lanes on commute times. The VTA could and should test the real impact of this solution before implementing it. One approach would be to measure baseline commute times for a set of cars from a defined set of sources to a defined set of destinations for 1 month, then block off the proposed bus lane for 1 month, repeat the experiment , and measure the differences.


6 people like this
Posted by Good plan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 20, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I don't think the VTA is hiding anything. All of their data and models are available for public review.

Web Link

Traffic is going to get worse anyway. This project will provide a viable alternative for commuters in addition to servicing the transportation needs of lower income residents, the elderly and the handicapped.


4 people like this
Posted by Cones
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I agree that VTA should cone off a lane in each direction for a week. That would answer some of these disputes. (Even this approach would understate the inconvenience, as the plans also call for the addition of MANY new intersection stoplights on El Camino, which will further muck things up).

This cone experiment would also engage many people who are not paying attention to this issue, or just ignoring it since it sounds to crazy to ever be implemented. And it might get the silent majority to speak up.


6 people like this
Posted by Conehead?
a resident of another community
on Dec 20, 2014 at 2:38 pm

The cone idea will in no way be a valid test. Here are some reasons:

1) The cones will indicate a hazard and will cause undue alarm and rubbernecking. Of course this would impede traffic.

2) The light scheduler will be adjusted in the project, but it is not reasonable to do for a short term test. This would create a slowdown.

3) Certain turns would be closed as part of the project and there will be mitigating work done. Hard to do in a test.

The list could go on, but if people think that this project is simply blocking off a lane has absolutely no clue. Perhaps reading the entire proposals and its variants would help. Perhaps not.


5 people like this
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 20, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Good plan,

The VTA analysis is flawed. The VTA assumes that the closure of one out of three lanes, a 33-1/3 % reduction in capacity will have little effect. They theorize that the traffic will smoothly take side streets with only a slight delay. Unfortunate, and not surprisingly, the VTA has not tested its theory.

The VTA is only interested in big projects that make the news. Look at the failed light rail system. If VTA wanted to assist us, they would build a high speed link between the Transit Center and North Bayshore.


5 people like this
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 20, 2014 at 7:44 pm

@ Ron,

The 5 minute delay on traffic was set by the VTA as their position when the BRT project was first thought of. VTA knows that if they ran a fair test, it would show how far off 5 minute sis from reality. VTA believes in the mushroom technique keep us in the dark and feed us bull____.


5 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 20, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Konrad, where in the traffic analysis does it state that the so-called 33pct will all take side streets?

Today when there is gridlock on El Camino, people take side streets. As traffic grows, this will continue to occur.

The study is not flawed at all. It is a very straightforward matter to take the existing traffic data and make forecasts based on volume. If you have 500 cars going 25mph on El Camino vs 633 going 25mph, there really is only a small delay. The lights will be adjusted to allow either more or fewer vehicles through lighted intersections.

The real delays happen when you have jerky commuters who have to ride the bumper ahead of them and turn on red lights thereby blocking intersections.


5 people like this
Posted by B Minkin
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 21, 2014 at 8:16 am

VTA has not made the model of their ridiculous traffic estimate public. The only thing they offer is a highly-massaged output from their model.

The claim is ridiculous that adding 10% more cars to a full lane reduces speed by less than 10%. The contrary is true: speed reduces by much more than 10% due to secondary effects of congestion! It does not take a simulator to show that because anybody who has driven for more than a year or two has learned this the hard way.

It would be poor public policy for citizens to spend a huge amount of money learning the same lesson the hard way.

Set up the cones for a week, VTA. We can watch how your five minutes rings very hollow.


7 people like this
Posted by Barry Burr
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

While the council has to play politically gently in their words, that they choose to speak against VTA's BRT, bus rapid transit, desires, shows the genuine unified will among the council as a whole, to stand up to VTA, just as Palo Alto has already done, to say _no.
Those dozen supporters were a mix of insiders with vested interests, and mostly bicycle advocates who were sadly victimized by the misinformation that VTA is spreading.
From the first presentation of the concept, my experience following transit and biped issues over 15 years living in MV screams that the El C lane grab is a grand chase for federal funding to VTA, much more than any realistic tangible benefit can be shown. Remember the alternatives to BART to San Jose? All of them billion$ less expensive and as much or greater improvement to mass transit around the south bay. Not many years ago, SAMTRANS failed miserably in their claims of ridership and traffic reduction with their bus and BART infrastructure buildout.
Now VTA is at it.
If the VTA commissioners were required to dogfood themselves by use the service they administer, they probably would never get anywhere on time, and need to severely limit their busy schedules due to the inability to get from anywhere to anywhere else in a comparable time as it can be bicycled or driven. I remember one job I had that was 15-20 minutes by bike, about the same by car, but 45 minutes on light rail.
Stealing a lane on El Camino for an already undersused bus service won't get people riding the bus, it will get the voting majority of us even more disgusted about the misguided mass transit efforts going on around here.
The claims that they will have bike lanes, as a supposed bone to toss in to try to win people over, is a deadly farce. Its simply not possible to safely have busses, bicycles, and an dangerously frustrated aggressively driven increasingly traffic jam laden mass of car traffic criss-crossing from dedicated lanes over to bus stops, and making turns at main intersections.
From the point of view of being both a bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and safety advocate, and equally a driving enthusiast, let's loudly applaud the city staff and council for their action to throw away and reject a guaranteed increase in traffic jams and bicyclist deaths, and join them in vocally speaking out against this tragically terrible proposal. With Mountain View and Palo Alto joining forces together, this politically/financially based idea that will only increase traffic and decrease bicycle and pedestrian safety, can be stopped before it ever gets a chance to go any further.
However,
Bike lanes on El Camino, along with retaining the existing motor vehicle lanes, is an idea whose time has come long ago. In the past, city staff explained to the BPAC, when I tried to get staff to support efforts to get bike lanes on El C, that El Camino is a state highway that the city cannot put bike lanes onto by themselves. Even just to get bad potholes on El C repaired, the city had to get Caltrans to do it.
Since the VTA proposal advocates the need for bike lanes on El Camino to make it a truly multimodal thoroughfare, lets stick them to that claim and get the bike lanes on El Camino that will finally give us the BRT, meaning BICYCLE Rapid Transit, that the peninsula really needs.

Barry Burr


4 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm

We need to start fixing the problems of moving people around and not just bikes. Not everyone wants to ridr a bank from Sunnyvale to Palo Alto. Riding the Slug is not much ofa option which only leaves a cat. We know one day it will reach a point no new space for roads can be built.

How about BRT on Central Expressway?


3 people like this
Posted by Eugene B.
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

For those of you wondering about VTA's model for ridership and local impact for the El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project:

Web Link

How they ran the model is listed on pages 16-23 of this 114-page document someone else posted earlier.


6 people like this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm

The dedicated lane proposal looks to be the best option for the El Camino corridor. Most of the buildings along it will be 3-6 stories, so serious urbanificstion is inevitable. Shared transportation options makes sense and if it can be made fast, should dramatically increase ridership.


4 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm

@ Conehead?,

Thanks for your response above regarding a live proof of concept test on ECR. In my day job, I design satellite and terrestrial communications networks. Many of the same mathematical constructs used to simulate car traffic (e.g. inter-arrival rate, service rate, time in system, M/M/1 queues) are also used to model packet traffic in communication networks. At work when we design a communications network, we typically perform both a computer simulation/analysis and a separate proof of concept using live equipment prior to deploying a network. The physical proof of concept is often used to improve the fidelity of the computer simulation.

Having said that, a few thoughts in response to your points (below after Ron>>):

1) The cones will indicate a hazard and will cause undue alarm and rubbernecking. Of course this would impede traffic.

Ron>> If we ran the test for a significant period of time, say 1 month, and posted signs etc to inform people of what was happening, drivers would have time to get used to the change and normalize their driving. This would eliminate "rubbernecking" and other transient conditions.

2) The light scheduler will be adjusted in the project, but it is not reasonable to do for a short term test. This would create a slowdown.

Ron>> In a proof of concept, we should pursue the highest fidelity achievable, including modifying the light scheduler according to the proposed design and also running buses in the middle lanes. This is Silicon Valley, one would hope we could handle adjusting a light scheduler to test a change that would permanently impact the lives of 10,000s of commuters. If this would indeed create a "slowdown," wouldn't we want to study that in a proof of concept prior to implementing it permanently?

3) Certain turns would be closed as part of the project and there will be mitigating work done. Hard to do in a test.

Ron>> Why could we not close the turns as they would be closed in the objective design? Again if the answer is "this would create a slowdown," shouldn't we study that in a proof of concept prior to implementing it permanently?

In summary I believe that with proper planning a valid proof of concept test could and should be performed. This will improve the fidelity of the VTA traffic study and help us flesh out any problems not uncovered by DKS' software / pen & paper analysis. I do not believe this is an uninformed position; given the magnitude of the proposed change I believe a proof of concept test is simply common sense.


4 people like this
Posted by Bye Felicia
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 21, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Margaret Abe-Koga is the former Chair of the VTA Board and for a few more weeks a Mountain View City Council Person.

She is so biased towards her former employer it is laughable. She should have recused herself. How unethical can one politician be? (that's rhetorical for the humorless)

And then she had the gall to hide behind the "social justice issue" moniker. Her shame knows no (lower) bounds.


8 people like this
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 21, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Thanks to those who have posted the link to the VTA Analysis Report. Here is the link again; I urge anyone concerned about ECR lane closure to read it: Web Link

The alternatives are listed on page 2. The alternatives that involve lane closure in Mountain View are designated 4B and 4C.

I’m not a traffic engineer, and not a city council member, but it looks to me as though the VTA claims of minimal impact are bogus. Or to put it more politely, they are clearly unsupported by the data in this report. Here are a few key items:

1. The “Level of Service” data for ECR intersections is from 2013. The traffic situation has been worsening steadily since then; the 2013 figures are stale. In addition, they do not appear to take into account recently approved developments like Merlone Geier Phase 2 and 801 El Camino, nor future developments in the recently-rezoned “ECR Change Area”, and certainly not the recently announced acquisition by Federal Realty of 33 acres in the San Antonio Shopping Center, slated for massive development. Thus, the baseline LOS data is useless. As the saying goes: Garbage in, garbage out.

2. The report assumes (as Konrad stated) that with one third of the lanes closed to autos, one third of the ECR traffic will simply go elsewhere. Here is the quote from the report. Please tell me if I am misreading it:

(page 36) “As mentioned in the previous section, the implementation of BRT on El Camino Real increases transit ridership and decreases auto trips, but taking a lane away from automobiles to create the dedicated lane for the BRT causes some traffic diversion off El Camino Real onto surrounding roads. This potential diversion was determined by reducing the capacity of El Camino Real within the countywide travel model, and re-assigning vehicle trips.”

Put aside the probability that one third of the ECR traffic would not simply go elsewhere. Let’s just say that this assumption is correct.

3. With that in mind, look at the table on page 70, showing the significant degrading of every one of the “diversion route intersections” that would have to absorb the diverted traffic. Remember that alternatives 4B and 4C are the scenarios that involve lane closure.

4. The report does include a list of “mitigations” that could be taken to reduce the negative impact on both ECR intersections and “diversion route intersections”, stating that (page 96) “In all cases the listed mitigation measure would eliminate or reduce the project impact to less-than-significant levels.”

HOWEVER, if you look carefully at the list of MV intersections on page 97, most have a footnote (footnote 4), which is explained at the bottom of the next page: “4. It is assumed that the potential mitigation would require right-of-way and is therefore considered to be not feasible as part of this project.”

So there would be no mitigation.

Again, I’m not a traffic engineer or a city council member. But seems obvious that as far as Mountain View is concerned, any lane closures will have to stop at Highway 85. Closing lanes east of 85 would be irresponsible and destructive.


6 people like this
Posted by Conehead?
a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Conehead?

@Ron. Thank you for the thoughtful comments… Here are some quick responses to yours.

"If we ran the test for a significant period of time, say 1 month, and posted signs etc to inform people of what was happening, drivers would have time to get used to the change and normalize their driving. This would eliminate "rubbernecking" and other transient conditions.”

There is no evidence to say that blocking off a lane for one month would be a fair test. We have all experienced construction projects that have closed lanes on freeways and major inroads that seem to go on forever. There is always a big slowdown.

"In a proof of concept, we should pursue the highest fidelity achievable, including modifying the light scheduler according to the proposed design and also running buses in the middle lanes. This is Silicon Valley, one would hope we could handle adjusting a light scheduler to test a change that would permanently impact the lives of 10,000s of commuters. ”

I’m sure you are a fine communications engineer, but making a proof of concept with electrons flying through copper and fiber is immensely different from a live physical test involving intelligent and emotional humans driving the streets.

"Why could we not close the turns as they would be closed in the objective design? Again if the answer is "this would create a slowdown," shouldn't we study that in a proof of concept prior to implementing it permanently?”

Those exits could be closed, but I don’t see how all the mitigations could be made as in the real project.

===

With respect, it seems that people that are arguing with the data model or are demanding a live test just simply do not want the project done. Performing a half-assed test would show a big problem, but not with the project. Simply, the test is flawed. The best test will be to complete the project and fine tune it to it’s optimal state. The traffic engineers are laughing at this conversation I'm sure. They measure the effects of shutting lanes down all the time, so that's probably why they are confident over their #'s.

Remember, even if there will be no lane dedicated to buses, traffic congestion will continue to increase. Adding automobile lanes will be very difficult if not impossible. So, traffic will divert to side and secondary roads. All of this happens today and will happen no matter if this project is done or not. The difference is that this project will enable a way for people to get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently by bus. Don't do the project? Then that just won't happen.


6 people like this
Posted by rainbow38
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 22, 2014 at 7:48 am

This has been previously posted and sent to the current Mtn. View Council members:Most of the proposed "improvements" or "enhancements" create more problems than they're designed to solve.

Issues regarding dedicated lanes next to the medians:
1. Would require that the medians be widened significantly for the BRT stations and to meet the needs of people using wheelchairs, strollers and shopping carts;
2. May require the removal of greenery and trees which is not desirable;
3. Would probably require there be no parking on El Camino Real which would impact businesses that have little or no parking;
4. Traffic going by on both sides of the median would create a safety issue, especially for someone traveling with several children;
5. Since the doors to enter/exit buses are on the right side of the bus, it seems new buses with doors on the left side would be needed;
6. Making left hand turns may be problematic unless drivers can use the dedicated lane for turns;
7. Some cities will elect not to have dedicated lanes which will increase the number of lane changes needed to navigate El Camino Real and increase the risk of accidents.

More issues to consider:
The current gridlock on El Camino Real, especially at Rengstorff Ave., Castro St. and the Grant Rd./237 intersections, and at the entrances/exits of the 85 freeway,
The lack of streets parallel to El Camino Real, particularly on the west side of Mountain View,
The location of the north and south entries and exits for the 85 freeway,
The new law mandating a 3 foot distance between cars and bicycles,
The number of housing and business projects planned along El Camino Real, and
The location of El Camino Hospital and the Fire Station on Grant Rd.

If the aim is to improve traffic flow by increasing bus use and reducing car use, it's important to recognize that this isn't workable when:
People need to get to multiple locations at specific times or within a given amount of time,
People need to get to or live at locations that are not near the bus line,
People need their cars for use at work, and
The bus doesn't run on a schedule that's compatible with people's schedules.

Conclusion:
Based on all of the above, there should be NO reduction in the number of lanes, narrowing of lanes, bulb-outs for bus stops, or any other change that would increase the number of lane changes needed and further impede the flow of traffic, including emergency vehicles, on Mountain View's approximately four miles of El Camino Real.

El Camino is a main traffic artery that should not become an obstacle course.

Since whatever is decided will affect many people, this should be voted on by the public in Santa Clara County. BRT, if implemented, should operate only in mixed-flow lanes with enhanced bus stations.

NB: I recently used the bus on a Tuesday at 1 pm to travel 1 1/2 miles. The wait was more than 10 minutes and there were only six people on the bus. The evident lack of use would make implementation of the proposed BRT questionable at best.



7 people like this
Posted by sunshine83
a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2014 at 1:05 pm

This has not been previously posted nor sent to the current Mtn. View Council members:Most of the proposed "improvements" or "enhancements" solve more problems than they're been designed to do.

Benefits regarding dedicated lanes next to the medians:
1. Medians be widened significantly for the BRT stations to meet the needs of people using wheelchairs, strollers and shopping carts;
2. May, but not necessarily, require the removal of greenery and trees while not desirable is better than doing nothing for people using wheelchairs, the elderly or otherwise infirm.
3. Would probably require there be no parking on this state highway. This would only impact businesses that chose not to have any parking for their customers.
4. The median would provide protection from Traffic going by on both sides thereby protecting transit users, especially for those traveling with several children;
5. New bus designs are available to provide safe and efficient entry and exits to and from the median.
6. The plan calls for making left turns for private automobiles easy and efficient.
7. Some backward and ignorant cities will attempt to block the dedicated lanes proposal, but since it is a state highway will not have the final say.

More issues to consider:
The current gridlock caused by singe driver automobile on El Camino Real, especially at Rengstorff Ave., Castro St. and the Grant Rd./237 intersections, and at the entrances/exits of the 85 freeway will no longer negatively affect the selfless public transit users.
The lack of streets parallel to El Camino Real, particularly on the west side of Mountain View is not an issue as it is not a Constitutional right to have bypass roads everywhere,
The location of the north and south entries and exits for the 85 freeway have been there for decades and will continue to be so,
The new law mandating a 3 foot distance between cars and bicycles is an example of the interest in defending our populace from the dangerous single-driver automobiles congesting our roadways and threatening our pedestrians and cyclists,
The number of housing and business projects planned along El Camino Real is a big reason to provide this efficient public transit option, and
The location of El Camino Hospital will work nicely with a fast and efficient bus system and the Fire Station on Grant Rd will appreciate having a non-congested lane their emergency vehicles can utilize to save lives.

If the aim is to improve traffic flow by increasing bus use and reducing car use, it's important to recognize that this project is very workable because,
People need to get to multiple locations at specific times or within a given amount of time and the dedicated lane will guarantee this,
People need to get to or live at locations that are not near the bus line and making the bus line fast and efficient would increase ridership and therefore the number of routes available,
People need their cars for use at work will still be able to drive as most of the lanes will STILL be there for single-user automobiles, despite what the naysayers want us to believe,
The bus will now be able to run on a schedule that's compatible with people's schedules.

Conclusion:
Based on all of the above, there should ABSOLUTELY BE a reduction in the number of lanes, narrowing of lanes, bulb-outs for bus stops, and any other change that would increase the speed and efficiency of public transit and further increase the flow of people traffic (automobile drivers, passengers PLUS (+) bus riders), including emergency vehicles, on Mountain View's approximately four miles of El Camino Real.

El Camino is a main traffic artery that should not continue to be completely blocked by single-user automobiles to the detriment of all.

Since whatever is decided will affect many people, this should be voted on by our elected and appointed officials at the transportation board in Santa Clara County. BRT, if implemented, should operate along the whole of El Camino Real.

NB: Someone recently used the bus on a Tuesday at 1 pm to travel 1 1/2 miles. The wait was more than 10 minutes due to the congestion caused by all of the single-user automobiles inefficiently using and therefore blocking the lanes for more efficient means of transportation. The evident lack of use due to the automobile-caused congestion, would make implementation of the proposed BRT the obvious choice.


7 people like this
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Why not make the side streets the dedicated bus lanes?


3 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm

USA is a registered user.

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga framed it as a "social justice issue"

Whenever I am not sure about a particular issue, I can always count on [portion removed; keep it civil] to show the right way to go. Just assume the opposite is right.


6 people like this
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 22, 2014 at 7:12 pm

@ sunshine83,

You said "..most of the lanes will STILL be there for single-user automobiles."

I say, reducing automobile lanes from 3 to 2 is a 33-1/3% reduction. That is a significant reduction.

You said " Since whatever is decided will affect many people, this should be voted on by our elected and appointed officials at the transportation board in Santa Clara County. BRT, if implemented, should operate along the whole of El Camino Real."

I say that since whatever is decided will affect many people, this should be voted on by the residents of the affected communities. The transportation board is composed of VTA puppets!

I would lke to see a referendum asking if the residents along ECR would like to eliminate bus service. Let the people be heard!



3 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

@Conehead?

Appreciate the thoughtful comments from you and many others on this board.
A few thoughts in response.

1 - In case it was not clear in my earlier post, yes I am adamantly opposed to this project. From your comments, it seems that you are supportive of this project. My (or anyone else's) opposition to this project should not invalidate my viewpoints, just as your support for the project should not invalidate yours. Our viewpoints should stand or fall on their own merit.

2 - I live a few blocks from ECR and commute on it every day. My work destination is several miles north of ECR, there is no shuttle nor bike route I would feel safe navigating every day. I believe there are thousands of us in this situation with commute sources and destinations for whom the ECR bus line is not an option.

3 - In my earlier posting I apologize if I conveyed that I personally
had expertise in auto traffic and civil engineering; that was not my intended
point. My intended point was that prior to engaging in a costly endeavor, it
is common sense to perform as much risk reduction as practically possible. It is
not possible to perfectly mock up a satellite constellation, but it is possible
to study it using both computer simulations and physical prototypes prior
to spending ~$100M in launch costs. Why is it unreasonable to ask our VTA
civil engineers to perform a live risk reduction test prior to a huge outlay
of public funds?

4 - Having read your replies above, I apologize if I am missing something
but I do not see any "showstopper" issues against running a live proof of concept. It seems like the most compelling consideration for a live test is Rainbow38's
observation above that the bus doors would need to be on the left. It seems
like that issue could be addressed by one of the following:
a - Keep the buses in their current lanes during the live test. The VTA
doubtless has extensive historical data on bus transit times in their
current lanes. The buses themselves could provide the best
possible measurand of the impact of the new configuration on travel times,
since they would provide a statistically significant comparison between
test and historical data.
b - As Sunshine 83 points out above, "New bus designs are available to
provide safe and efficient entry and exits to and from the median."
Perhaps VTA could explore using such buses in a live test. Personally,
I think option "a" above would be cheaper and more informative.

If the VTA traffic engineers are indeed "laughing at this conversation,"
that is cause for concern. The Mountain View City Council, the Palo Alto
City Council, and potentially impacted commuters are raising legitimate issues.
The only compelling reason not to perform a live test would be if the VTA
already views this as a fait accompli, in which case we should all be very
concerned. If this project is truly still subject to debate and decision, then
a well-designed live test is absolutely the best possible form of risk reduction.





7 people like this
Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 23, 2014 at 9:03 am

Palo Alto and Mountain View seem to have repeatedly made their views about the dedicated lane option BRT crystal clear = NO. The VTA also likely realizes that no amount of lobbying Palo Alto and Mountain View is likely to change the response received = No BRT dedicated lanes along ECR. I suspect the way this thing will ultimately go down is via the VTA lobbying Cal Trans - which controls State Highway 82 (El Camino Real) - in order to bypass the will of the citizens and the cities. Not only does Cal Trans have veto power over what may/may not occur along it's right of way, but it also has the power to override the wishes of the individual cities surrounding this State Route.

Big time politics in play here.

Watch.


3 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Castro City
on Dec 23, 2014 at 10:51 am

Take side streets??? There are none that effectively mimic El Camino. I'm sure that OMV residents will LOVE added cars getting to Calderon thru their tiny streets.


7 people like this
Posted by B Minkin
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 24, 2014 at 8:16 am

The lively conversation here has only a small fraction of the residents and commuters who would be affected by removing a lane from El Camino. Very few people have even heard about it.

There is incredible reluctance to a fair experiment with cones and adjusted traffic lights. I suspect the reason for this resistance is that once all users of ECR know about it this change, local governments will have a citizen rebellion.


6 people like this
Posted by Conspiracy?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I don't think so. This project was well publicized and there have been many opportunities to meet with VTA and learn about it. There was a MV Council meeting where all of you armchair traffic engineers could have testified against the project. So far, the objections have been specious. The "cone test" is your usual "red herring" argument put on by opponents that have no leg to stand on.

Dedicated bus lanes and re-allocating lanes are well understood. This is not a new drug from a pharmaceutical company that needs trials to move forward. No new technology here.

I'm looking forward to having a healthy walk over to El Camino and hopping on a bus that takes me quickly to San Jose.


5 people like this
Posted by Cones
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 24, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Gauging support/discord by the few people who show up at meetings is silly. In Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara alone, there are 200,000+ residents. How many come to public meetings on items like this? 500? A fraction of 1%?

Does that mean the rest don't care? No. It more likely means a) the methods of communication are not that effective, b) most don't have time to attend the meetings, or c) they believe this plan is so ridiculous, it has no chance.

So, let's have a vote. Why not? The ones opposed to a vote (on this blog) are the supporters of BRT. Why would you fear a vote? The ones opposed to a trial period (on this blog) are the supporters of BRT. Why would you fear a trial?

There has also been no response from BRT supporters regarding the lack of north-south VTA connections from El Camino. Without those connections, this is infeasible for almost all commuters. Connections don't exist now, and there are no plans to add them. Getting from one place on El Camino to another place on El Camino doesn't do squat for 99% of commute (work, pleasure, shopping, kid activity) trips.


6 people like this
Posted by @Cones
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 25, 2014 at 12:49 am

Ah, Mr. Cones.

"Gauging support/discord by the few people who show up at meetings is silly."

Yes, that is just one measure. The ones that did show up and speak are supporters. Here are some other measures of discord:

1) A petition telling VTA that we want to keep all of our lanes for single-user automobiles.
2) A protest staged at key areas (governmental buildings for example).
3) Lawsuits halting any forward movement on this proposal.
4) A dozen or so bitter postings in a community web forum from people who do not understand the minimal cost of the project compared to the massive gains from efficiently transporting people across high density areas.

I've not heard anything about 1-3, although #4 is here.

Regarding, your comment, Mr. Cones: "There has also been no response from BRT supporters regarding the lack of north-south VTA connections from El Camino."

Since your posting listed you as living in the Cuernavaca neighborhood, I don't understand why you need a bus ride to El Camino. Do you really need a bus route to go < 1 mile? I'd be surprised if it was even a 10 minute walk, at most!

There are many high density apartment complexes within walking distance of El Camino and there are many businesses, from small to large. Hospitals, clinics, retirement centers. Thousands would benefit from being able to move efficiently up and down the corridor. This would include the elderly, handicapped and people who just cannot afford to drive.

If you think that most people in the county would oppose this, I would wait for it to get approved and then come forward with the signatures needed to bring it to the voters through a special election. If there really are so many people opposed to this, then you ought to have no problem getting this done.


5 people like this
Posted by B Minkin
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 25, 2014 at 1:21 am

There are many residents of Mountain View and Sunnyvale, well-educated and respectable, who do not read this newspaper or other publication that has made this project visible. Many do not know that their traffic artery might shrink in a way that makes their driving lives more unpleasant. Dismiss them if you will, but they will be affected nonetheless.

I think a lawsuit by the municipalities to slow down this proposal would be long enough for VTA to put it on the ballot. A vote for approval makes sense.


6 people like this
Posted by Democracy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 25, 2014 at 2:06 am

I think every single decision made by every governmental entity should be directly voted on by the citizens of every city, county and state. Since people do not read the newspaper or understand the issues, this is the only way that we can get the truly uninformed to make the decisions.

Uhhhh....

"Many do not know that their traffic artery might shrink in a way that makes their driving lives more unpleasant."

Guess what? The "traffic artery" (how medical!) is shrinking every day as more and more single-user automobiles clog it up. This clogging is causing the bus system to be next to useless on El Camino. With ever increasing density along that road, what are your suggestions for moving more people more quickly and efficiently?

Please no pie-in-the-sky ideas--must use existing technology, not require massive taking of private real estate and not bankrupt us all. Can't think of anything? Great! We have a proposal on the table that will allow people to move along this road at speeds that haven't been seen in 20 years. Yes, I said PEOPLE. Not sport cars. Not Hummer's with one driver and no passengers. Let's not care about the cars. Let's care about PEOPLE!

Oh, and it will save on greenhouse gases.
Oh, and people that are medically unable to drive, will be able to live more independently.
Oh, and people that ARE able to drive will appreciate a more relaxing, healthy and FASTER way to travel.
Oh, and traffic analysis shows only minor incremental delays to the automobile lanes in 2040!!!

Still waiting for the alternative.... ("chirp, chirp, chirp", chorused the crickets.)


4 people like this
Posted by Cones
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm

@Cones...

Perhaps you can chart out an efficient VTA (in combination with other transit?) map for my wife's routine.

She commutes to work near Embarcadero/101 (home to work = 15-20 minutes by car at 7am). About 3:00pm, she leaves work and picks up daughter #1 at Huff School and takes her to gymnastics at Gold Star (work to Huff to Gold Star = 30 minutes by car). During gymnastics, my wife runs some errands (groceries, etc). She then picks up daughter #1 (at Gold Star 5:30) and daughter #2 (at Huff afterschool childcare at 6:00).

Routines like this are commonplace for thousands of families. How does VTA help? How does BRT do anything but muck up El Camino (with spillover muck in the neighborhoods)?

You punted on describing the north-south connectors (or plans for north-south connectors). Walk? Nice. Although in one regard, you're correct...that is the only alternative right now.


6 people like this
Posted by @Cones
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

"Perhaps you can chart out an efficient VTA (in combination with other transit?) map for my wife's routine.
She commutes to work near Embarcadero/101 (home to work = 15-20 minutes by car at 7am)."

Let's see... You guys live right on Highway 82 (El Camino) and about 100 yards or so from Highway 85, which very quickly (assuming no gridlock) onto Highway 101, which takes your wife up to her workplace right next to 101. At 7am and 3pm, she avoids rush hour traffic. I don't see how she can get there faster by public transit, if that is what you mean by "efficient".

Fortunately, this project will not negatively affect her commute. They are not shutting down 101, nor are they shutting down 85. She might be impacted slightly if she insists on driving up and down El Camino during the late afternoon, but that would be a great opportunity to stop contributing to the gridlock, get out of her car and bike or use the bus or community shuttle. Of course, that is her choice.

"Routines like this are commonplace for thousands of families. How does VTA help? How does BRT do anything but muck up El Camino (with spillover muck in the neighborhoods)?"

VTA is not attempting to provide a solution for every single scenario. Someone who lives and works next to major highways will likely not be served directly as people who live and work in areas where there is no high-speed car option.

Tens of thousands of people live and/or work along El Camino and deserve to have a fast, efficient transit option. With a dedicated lane, we will see an increase in express buses that will significantly cut down on the commute time for thousands. If we do nothing, then the commute time will continue to increase for EVERYBODY.

What solution do you have to give people a fast and efficient public transit option along El Camino between San Jose and Palo Alto?


4 people like this
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 25, 2014 at 8:02 pm

#@Cones

You asked "What solution do you have to give people a fast and efficient public transit option along El Camino between San Jose and Palo Alto?"

If we eliminated the 33 and 522 buses traffic would flow a lot faster along El Camino Real


6 people like this
Posted by @Konrad
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 25, 2014 at 8:38 pm

"If we eliminated the 33 and 522 buses traffic would flow a lot faster along El Camino Real."

Nice Konrad. I'm sorry that you despise the elderly, the handicapped and anyone else who either cannot drive or chooses not to.

There is absolutely no evidence to show that buses along El Camino contribute significantly to traffic and does not solve the solution to improve public transit service. All the evidence points to individuals driving automobiles. Why should bus users suffer for something that is not their fault?


4 people like this
Posted by Cones
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 26, 2014 at 11:50 am

The large majority of elderly/handicapped will not be walking to and from El Camino to catch a bus. Are they doing it now? The lure of the bus trip being a bit faster (most folks wouldn't be going all the way to San Jose) won't change anything.

Even VTA estimates just 4,000 new daily trips (2,000 going in each direction) with this 200M+ investment.

I'm fine with public transit and wish it were better. Put the $200M into devising a transit network that would actually entice people.


3 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

VTA is trying to move as many people from start to finish and then back to starting point. It has to be fast, efficent and easy to use. It must be designed to adopt other BRT routing.

Think San Antonio Center to Apple.

200 million dollars won't get you much in subway, light rail or freeway lanes.


5 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm

@Cones / Democracy / @Konrad,

Thank you for your thoughtful responses. It is not clear to
me whether I am addressing one author or three different authors
in Old Mt View.

I take issue with the repeated assertions that those of us who
would oppose this project or would advocate a live test are
ignorant and/or clueless. We are concerned commuters whose daily
lives will be impacted by the BRT. As affected taxpayers, it is
entirely appropriate for us to request that the VTA perform a
live test prior to a huge outlay of public funds that could
potentially cripple a major roadway.

Regarding viable alternatives to worsening congestion on ECR and
other arteries, one solution that never seems to get much play
is telecommuting. I have brought this topic up repeatedly at
Mountain View planning meetings, and have been told, "the
companies may not go for it." While it is true that some
companies (e.g. Yahoo under Marissa Mayer) are opposed to
telecommuting, many companies have embraced it. Consider the
follow article on Cisco's implementation of telecommuting.

Web Link

Considering the obvious benefits that are easily within reach
by wider and better coordinated adoption of telecommuting, why
is it not on the table as at least a partial solution? My concern
is that since it offers no increase in scope and funding for VTA,
and since it does not offer hundreds of millions of $$ to the
construction industry, telecommuting does not receive the attention
that it should among city councils and the VTA. I do not believe
the VTA's advocacy of BRT is ultimately due to environmental or quality of
life benefits; like everything else it is driven by financial interests.


4 people like this
Posted by @Cones
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm

"The large majority of elderly/handicapped will not be walking to and from El Camino to catch a bus. Are they doing it now? The lure of the bus trip being a bit faster (most folks wouldn't be going all the way to San Jose) won't change anything."

Actually, quite a few do. Have you used the bus during the day?

"Even VTA estimates just 4,000 new daily trips (2,000 going in each direction) with this 200M+ investment."

Four thousand...that is a lot! Think about it. The elderly, infirm are able to be more independent. Think of the rest that are not hogging the road with their cars. Density is increasing rapidly and El Camino will only get slower. Having a lane that is able to move people quickly all day is the best thing we can do for people, the economy and the environment.

"I'm fine with public transit and wish it were better. Put the $200M into devising a transit network that would actually entice people."

So, just throw money at the wall and see if it sticks? No thank you. There's a proposal on the table that will put a fast and efficient transit option along El Camino. Nobody has come forward with any feasible alternative. Thinking that the tech geniuses of Silicon Valley can invent a new form of transportation? Great! Let them do it and when it's ready, we will adopt it. In the meantime, we'll go with what works.


4 people like this
Posted by @Ron
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm

"As affected taxpayers, it is entirely appropriate for us to request that the VTA perform a live test prior to a huge outlay of public funds that could
potentially cripple a major roadway. "

You can definitely ASK. Nobody is taking away your right to do that. Of course, since having a dedicated bus lane has been done in many other cities around the world, the effects are well known. I hope you can appreciate that spending many millions of dollars for an unnecessary test may not be considered by all to be a good use of public funds. If you think it can be done cheaply, then you don't fully understand the project. But, please...do ask!

"Regarding viable alternatives to worsening congestion on ECR and
other arteries, one solution that never seems to get much play
is telecommuting. I have brought this topic up repeatedly at
Mountain View planning meetings, and have been told, "the
companies may not go for it." While it is true that some
companies (e.g. Yahoo under Marissa Mayer) are opposed to
telecommuting, many companies have embraced it."

Actually, it is not just Yahoo. It is also Google, Facebook and many other companies that are in highly competitive markets. They want their project/program teams to be physically co-located. From first-hand experience, they know that telecommuting does not work. The companies that have more of a monopoly and don't need to constantly innovate and adapt are able to handle the inefficiencies of telecommuting. Well, for the short-term at least. At some point, a disruptive innovation comes along and the lean and mean smaller companies work to unseat them....and then bye-bye!

"Consider the [...] article on Cisco's implementation of telecommuting. Considering the obvious benefits that are easily within reach
by wider and better coordinated adoption of telecommuting, why
is it not on the table as at least a partial solution? My concern
is that since it offers no increase in scope and funding for VTA,
and since it does not offer hundreds of millions of $$ to the
construction industry, telecommuting does not receive the attention
that it should among city councils and the VTA. I do not believe
the VTA's advocacy of BRT is ultimately due to environmental or quality of
life benefits; like everything else it is driven by financial interests."

It's interesting that that you accuse the VTA of being driven by solely financial interests and not environmental or quality of life. But, then you quote a "study" by Cisco giving overwhelming support for telecommuting. Cisco is the worlds largest producer of telecommuting equipment (video conference, tele-conference, etc..). Don't you think they would have a conflict of interest in not only funding this "study", but using their own employees in it?? You understand, that is is not really a "study"... Click through and you find out it is simply a survey. Not publishable in a peer-reviewed journal. I do believe that telecommuting does play a role. The ability to access specialty consultants for brief periods of time in other parts of the country or the world. Totally makes sense. Day-to-day core teams? Not this year..or decade. Maybe the next though...


7 people like this
Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm

We cannot blindly trust the “experts”. Experts are quite capable of being wrong on large issues, causing painful unintended consequences. Take as an example the Iraq war, and if you don’t like that example, consider the 2008 subprime crisis, or locating nuclear plants at Fukishima.

Many of us are concerned that this project will not be the “slam-dunk” success that is being promised, but instead will make things much worse than a mere 5-minute delay from SJ to PA, for the vast majority of us who are auto users.

Looking at the VTA report, I see good reason to question (1.) the base data and projections on present and future intersection “Level of Service”, (2.) the assumptions regarding the amount and distribution of diversion resulting from closure of 1/3 of the ECR lanes (3.) the projected impact on “diversion route intersections”, and (4.) the projected future ridership.

The fact that this report promises “mitigation” measures for impacted intersections that would reduce impact to “less-than-significant levels”, but then buries in a footnote the fact that many of these mitigations are “not feasible”, indicates that this may not be a forthright, impartial analysis.

A couple of other points:

Smaller, self-driving cars are not a “pie in the sky” concept anymore. Each year brings the concept closer to reality.

Some of the true believers on this forum seem to be saying that handicapped people and seniors disproportionately take public transit. I don’t believe that for a second. You might convince me that public transit riders tend to have lower incomes - that makes sense. But in terms of the sheer numbers of lower-income people who drive vs. those who take the bus, the “social justice” line from council member Abe-Koga doesn’t really stand up either.


6 people like this
Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 26, 2014 at 8:22 pm

VTA already has a express bus system, it call the 522. Why doesn't VTA show how much riders use it to speed up the commute. The overall problem with the 22 ECR route is it does not go anywhere, you must always take a pass onto another line. To Yahoo, Google Cisco they are all 1- 5 miles off ECR. So speed up one leg 5 to 10 minutes to wait for the other bus.


5 people like this
Posted by Intelligent Citizen
a resident of another community
on Dec 26, 2014 at 8:40 pm

It's amusing to read armchair analysts telling us that the "experts" don't know anything. They offer no alternatives and want nothing done. Well, we tried it your way for decades and its past time to do something about it.

You think traffic is bad today?? Go live in LA or Manhattan and drive everywhere. Good luck! Public transit is the only solution and it only works if they have priority over the grossly inefficient and congestion-causing automobiles.

Looking at current bus usage numbers is misleading. Due to the automobile congestion, it's impossible to run a scheduled transit system. Passengers don't know when they will get picked up and cannot rely on making connections. With a priority lane for public transit, that problem vanishes and the system can be relied on to move people around quickly and efficiently.

Let's hear a serious alternative that will get people from SJ to Palo Alto along El Camino within 45 minutes at peak commute. If you have one that can be implemented within five years, propose it. If it is a vague reference to some emerging technology, don't bother.


5 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 26, 2014 at 9:24 pm

@Cones / @Ron / @Konrad,

Based on writing style (which is excellent btw), I am going to take the
liberty of assuming these entries are from a single author. Please let
me know if this assumption is incorrect.

With regard to a live test, I am currently working on a commercial satellite
communications project worth ~$240M. Of that amount, roughly $12M (5%)
is budgeted for a proof of concept effort. This includes labor, hardware, and software. Recognizing that traffic/civil engineering is a different field, I
would propose for starters we assume a similar proof of concept budget of ~5%. This would give us a $10M budget for a live test assuming the proposed ECR project budget is $200M as stated above. Given the vast potential impact of this project, I think spending 5% to convince ourselves we are on the right path is a reasonable risk / reward proposition. Again I am not a civil engineer but it seems like $10M should be more than enough for VTA to design, prepare, and run a mock up for a duration of 1 week to 1 month. If you see $10M as insufficient for a live test, could you please elaborate on the VTA cost drivers (labor/materials/overhead/etc)?

With regard to telecommuting, I completely agree with your point that a study
involving Cisco will advocate its benefits for the reasons you mentioned. My
point in raising this as that *all* parties proposing solutions to traffic
issues on ECR and elsewhere are primarily driven by their own financial interests. This statement applies to VTA, the construction companies, Cisco, or anybody else.
My concern is that VTA and developers / construction companies are very well
represented in debates and decisions about traffic congestion, but for profit
companies that could offer telecommuting solutions are not at the table.

A couple of notes with regard to the efficacy of telecommuting. Over the
last couple of years I led a team of 10 software engineers developing a satellite
control system. It was a virtual team, some folks up here and most in
Southern CA. Several of the engineers were commuting from Orange County
to the El Segundo HQ, and spending roughly 3 hours a day on the road.
We encouraged those engineers to telecommute; that saved them 3 hours a
day and helped us hit our milestones successfully. Another example; this
year I was involved with a capture team on a new highly competitive commercial satellite pursuit. The team was entirely virtual and we were recently
notified that we won the program. During this effort, this entirely virtual
team patented and reduced to practice the key differentiating technology
that allowed us to beat out the competition.

I can say from first hand experience that telecommuting is an workable approach to engineering projects, be they execution or innovation. It is not the answer for all situations, and some companies prefer to have their employees working at
the same place full time. That is fine, but many companies in the area allow
and even encourage telecommuting. Telecommuting deserves a seat at the table in
this discussion, along with the construction companies and VTA.


3 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 26, 2014 at 10:43 pm

@Cones / @Ron / @Konrad / all,

Here is a more formal study on the impact of telecommuting in the U.S. from Telework Research Network from 2011:

Web Link

Some interesting findings in this study include:

* The existing 2.9 million US telecommuters save 390 million
gallons of gas and prevent the release of 3.6 million tons of
greenhouse gases yearly.
‣ If those with compatible jobs worked at home 2.4 days a
week (the national average of those who do), the reduction
in greenhouse gases (51 million tons) would be equivalent
of taking the entire New York workforce off the roads.
‣ The national savings would total over $900 billion a year;
enough to reduce our Persian Gulf oil imports by 46%.
‣ The energy saved annually from telecommuting could exceed
the output of all renewable energy sources combined.


3 people like this
Posted by @Ron
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 27, 2014 at 1:25 am

Well, the Telecom Research Network's paper has an interesting byline: "This paper was prepared for Citrix Online."

Who is Citrix Online? They are a software and service vendor that builds solutions in the remote collaboration industry. (GoToMyPC, GoToMeeting,etc..)

Telecom Research Network is a consulting company that will help software companies like Citrix build business cases for teleworking solutions. I'm not saying that the paper is necessarily flawed, but it was not published in a peer reviewed article, nor was the sole source of funding coming from a neutral party. Put it this way, if Telecom Research Network handed Citrix a paper that showed the declining use of telework (telecommuting), then Citrix would not have published it. The non-disclosure agreement would have prevented Telecom Research Network from publishing it as well.

My personal view is that telecommuting does not work for core teams that must work quickly, collaboratively and be at a cutting level of innovation. Telework (as opposed to telecommuting) can work OK in one-off situations, where an employee with a particular talent is not willing to live locally so special dispensation is granted. There are also positions at companies where the individual employee can work independently without obviously causing problems.

The real benefit to telework is offshoring talent. It's possible to hire a software engineer from 1/5 - 1/3 an American compensation rate. Remote collaboration tools are a necessity. However, it is merely a cost savings measure and can be very problematic, especially for work that is on the cutting edge.

I've worked in the Valley for a lot of years and other places too. Engineer level and senior management area--with hiring local talent as well as building teams around the world. In my experience, telecommuting is effective on an exception basis and not as a rule. The latest wisdom on developing high performance teams is to not only prohibit telecommuting, but get rid of the private offices. Even bring the walls between cubes down! Not my personal preference, but some very, very successful companies run by very, very smart young people are seeing it as a necessity to compete.

Even if telecommuting would help slow down the growth of traffic in the area, public investment in that area ought not to be done to the exclusion of (drastically) improving public transit options. The proposed BRT project will definitely fix the transit problem. Any suggestions there?


6 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm

@Ron,

I am puzzled by your response on this:

"Telecom Research Network is a consulting company that will help software companies like Citrix build business cases for teleworking solutions. I'm not saying that the paper is necessarily flawed, but it was not published in a peer reviewed article, nor was the sole source of funding coming from a neutral party."

Given that line of reasoning, why should we trust the DKS report,
since that was sponsored by the VTA? Are you asserting that we should
consider VTA to be a neutral party?

To be candid, the DKS report reads as if VTA hired a consulting group to
substantiate their desired solution. The DKS report contains a lot of
excellent analysis and information, but if you would say we should
consider the VTA sponsored report to be neutral, I would say you've got
to be kidding!


5 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of Gemello
on Dec 30, 2014 at 10:39 am

The paid VTA employees and consultants commenting on this article have made it clear that what you non- professions think will not matter. El Camino is state property and the VTA is a self-serving, self- perpetuating bureaucracy that tells the money-hungry politicians on the VTA Board how to get ahead.


3 people like this
Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

Sunnyvale: Council says 'no' to bus-only lane option for BRT project
Web Link
02/25/2015 11:43:17 AM PST


3 people like this
Posted by Grog
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Good for Sunnyvale! Has anyone experienced traffic flow get better going from 6 to 4 lanes? Basically, the conversion from car riders to bus rider projections just aren't close to realistic.....it will be a multi million dollar quagmire with optimistically no improvement to worse.

Connect El Camino and the train stations better or figure out how to build an elevated form of rapid transit that doesn't compromise existing capacity on El Camino.


3 people like this
Posted by VTA PR
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:15 pm

First Palo Alto, now SunnyVale ....

Unless VTA plans to steam-roll local governments, the dedicated lanes are not going anywhere ....

Time for VTA to pull the plug and refocus on mixed-flow and improving existing Rapid service?


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