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MV sets sights on new transit center

Original post made on Nov 20, 2015

Adding to the stack of transportation-related projects, Mountain View leaders last week pushed forward plans to begin studying a slate of improvements to the city's downtown transit center and a host of roadways.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 20, 2015, 10:58 AM

Comments (31)

Posted by Hooray
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2015 at 11:34 am

Props to the council for going forward with this. Mountain View really does need a better transportation hub, especially with the stadium increasing light rail ridership. High Speed rail will bring even more commuters.

Hopefully they can find a way to keep Castro St open and raise or lower the tracks to get rid of the crossing.

Posted by Big Opportunity! (bjd)
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Hooray indeed, I'm excited to see the proposals that come of this. I believe it was Lenny who floated the idea of a station that extends over Central Expressway. I think that could be a really unique and innovative solution. Imagine having a station that crosses that busy intersection, providing a safe pedestrian walkway, and someday leads to a monorail station that shoots straight down Stierlin / Shoreline and into North Bayshore. That could be an amazing transit solution that would help the whole region.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

No way. Keep any monorail away from Stierlin. We have enough traffic in our neighborhood. If anything, it should go down Shoreline.
I'm tired of everyone wanting to impose more traffic in and around our homes.
If the city council members lived in the Jackson Park neighborhood, I'm sure they would feel the same way.

Posted by Legs Crossed
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Imagine...maybe they could even put in public restrooms. I enjoy reading the sign that says "public restrooms available at city hall from 8:00AM to 5:PM M-F". What a joke. Now they have portable toilets for the 49ers fans. Apparently the everyday commuters don't rate.

Posted by Parking
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2015 at 3:50 pm

What the station needs is a lot more parking. They should not dead end Castro but sink the road or the tracks.

Posted by Mountain View Resident
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 20, 2015 at 4:05 pm

You can not continue to take streets away with the ever increasing traffic. I've heard of taking a lane in each direction on El Camino, taking a lane away from Shoreline and again closing Castro at the railroad crossing. The removal of lanes on these major roads sends all the traffic into the side streets and just creates more congestion and discontented residents. Think outside the box on how to keep the traffic moving. You already closed the Stierlin exit to Central, which causes a huge backup every day at rush hour for Castro traffic. Even if people want to take the trains, how do they get to/from the train station if you keep closing the main roads that lead there?

Posted by @Mountain View Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2015 at 4:43 pm

I agree that just closing Castro would be very bad for traffic in the area, but it could work as a part of a bigger plan. For example if Evelyn had a better connection to Shoreline, traffic could use the overpass there to avoid the tracks. A plaza over a sunken road would be a nice pedestrian-friendly landmark for the city.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Think big Mountain View

Make a giant investment and build the equivalent of the Gare d'Orsay with stalls for a daily farmers market and cafe.

That will really put Mountain View on the map.

Posted by Scott
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 21, 2015 at 10:08 am

This is great. But we also needs better transit options to downtown. I can walk the 2 miles faster than transit can take me there. That's insane. We should have direct transit from every major neighborhood.

VTA's ghost busses go from nowhere to nowhere. It's seriously ok to create a transit line that caters to the moderately well off. Have one run every 20 minutes with only 2-3 stops. Now you don't have drivers finding creative places to ditch their cars around downtown MTV.

Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 21, 2015 at 11:52 am

I see many good comments. We have a serious problem already. Waiting to do the study will not help.

Grade separation between Castro St/Moffett Blvd is long everdue, complicated by the need for Central Expressway to be included. Rebuilding the fake adobe house, adding a replica RR station, and the new construction at Moffett and Central Expressway have further complicated the grade separation problem, and increased the potential cost. Nevertheless, it must be done, and the sooner the better.

Additional parking and access arrangements for the transit center are needed and I would like to see a revitalized Old Town as part of the new Transit Center. I agree with comments calling for more and better public transit connecting residential and business areas with the Transit Center.

Posted by iivvgg
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm

@Doug Pearson:
"Grade separation between Castro St/Moffett Blvd is long everdue, complicated by the need for Central Expressway to be included."

What if the intersection with Central Expressway were just removed, or reduced to only serve a few directions of travel? I think this would save a lot of money and land without inconveniencing too many drivers.

Posted by downtown neighbor
a resident of Willowgate
on Nov 22, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Closing Castro at Central Expressway, entirely or in any direction, would be a huge mistake. The intersection is already a nightmare at peak hours. Where would the traffic divert to? Through the neighborhoods? Even routes through the neighborhoods would not have the capacity.

The plan to rebuild and enlarge the Transit Center is because of the projected (and encouraged) increase of transit riders. They will need access to and from the Transit Center. Buses will need to access Moffett and Central Expressway. And how about the hotel that will be going up across from the Transit Center, at the intersection of Hope and Evelyn, which is already gridlocked (literally) at peak hour? What about the rapidly growing population of Mountain View, wishing to access our "vibrant" downtowm?

From the article:

“ ‘About 4,300 Caltrain riders pack the station platforms each morning, with about 2,000 more commuters who take light rail or other transit lines operating out of the facility. Those numbers will continue to rise in coming years,’ said the city's transportation manager, Linda Forsberg.

“And any new Mountain View train station would need to eventually accommodate California's high-speed rail project, which is expected to run about eight trains each hour through the corridor.”

I’m certain that any traffic study will show closing Castro to be an impossibly bad idea.

Grade separation? Absolutely!

Posted by rainbow38
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Nov 23, 2015 at 7:58 am

Closing Castro at Central Expressway, a main thoroughfare, should definitely not be considered. It would require drivers to drive further to the few intersections with entries/exits at Central. All these streets are already gridlocked and driving further is not a "green" option.

Posted by SC Parent
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 23, 2015 at 10:04 am

Two low-cost and low-effort suggestions to alleviate the traffic backups at Castro:

1) Change the light timing to allow Castro a green across Central immediately after the gates go up. Currently, northbound trains close the gates as they're pulling into the station and by the time all the other directions get their greens along Central, the gates close again as the NB trains leave the station. Then the lights go through their whole cycle again before Castro finally gets a green 7+ minutes later. Good luck if a SB train comes through around that time.

2) Close the unsignaled, free-for-all pedestrian crosswalk across Castro at Evelyn. When the Castro light across Central is finally green, pedestrians crossing the street here back up the southbound traffic up past the Central intersection and the northbound traffic can't get through on the green. This makes the Castro green lights ineffective, even after waiting for all the trains to pass. Pedestrians could more safely cross the street at the traffic light 1/2 block to the south, while allowing greater queuing and and mobility for cars through the Evelyn-Central intersections.

Posted by PH
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Nov 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm

This could have been avoided years ago by building BART, but certain officials north of here messed it up for everyone. Now those up north are creating grade separation in places while we are not. Any way you look at it grade separation is the only good solution. Rengstorff and Castro should be done no matter what the cost.

Posted by Cfrink
a resident of Willowgate
on Nov 23, 2015 at 10:54 pm

Cfrink is a registered user.

@SC Parent

My sentiments exactly! Resolving those two issues would solve a lot of problems.

Posted by HSR Is Dead
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 24, 2015 at 2:42 pm

The City Council is derelict in its fiduciary responsibility to MV citizens and businesses if it spends a single penny planning for the GARGANTUAN HSR station supported by Jerry “Sunbeam” Brown, labor unions and desperately impoverished Central Valley cities. HSR will not be built because it faces insurmountable political, financial, and engineering problems, problems that its supporters furiously deny.

There are huge political problems from the cities both in Santa Clara County, the greater LA area, and even the Valley. The 2016 general election will include a popular ballot proposition to dissolve the HSR Commission and to divert its $8 billion in bond money to fund surface water infrastructure and storage projects. Since the original HSR authorization was passed, US Congress has denied it any of the $10s billions of construction and operating subsidies it desperately needs and will continue to do so. Add to that enormous engineering and safety problems of running it below grade up the Peninsula and constructing tunnels through heavily faulted mountains in the LA area, and you have a total non-starter. This turkey won’t fly.

Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2015 at 5:56 pm

AC is a registered user.

I know I'm a broken record about this. I think we all recognize the issues, and know it needs to be addressed. Likely with bold moves.

But don't mess with freeway feeders. Don't close them, don't diet them, don't mess with them. If we want to slow down the inner parts of the city, the great arteries and veins need to flow all the more freely.

The freeway feeders are: Castro/Moffett, Shoreline, Rengstorff, and San Antonio. Thankfully, the south-end, Grant, is the terminus for a freeway in its own right and therefore has no problem there.

Let us remember that Castro/Moffett feeds not one, but *two* freeways: US-101 and SR-85.

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 24, 2015 at 11:44 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Props to the person mentioning BART and the SP ( now CALTRAIN ) ROW with Menlo Park and Atherton RICH PEOPLE MAKING THEIR MONEY TALK.
They still have their noise problem with CALTRAIN instead of BART making the same noise...


These council people can see many examples of successful multi-use TRANSIT HUBS in the Metro Denver Area for far less than a $1MILLION. Heck, Denver is about to open Light Rail service to DIA. The NEW Union Station is the transit hub that does Light Rail, RTD buses, taxis and even an AMTRAK connection!
That is NOW, not some " Let's spend $ 1MILLION and see what sticks to the wall " words on sheets of paper. Buildouts for RTD Light Rail serve a far less population density for the money they are given to spend.
The RTD people had better keep their promises because the board knows who their paychecks are coming from.

How about accountability from the City Council?

Better yet, start following the money spent by the local government? VTA is a joke with the empty cars going to nowhere. RTD is what the VTA should be. I include the PIOUSes used by the VTA who rarely get the handicapped to their classrooms on time.
No, I would DEMAND the City Council members invest time in Metro Denver and take notes ( they DO know how to Read and Write,don't they? ) on a successful, WORKING transit system. Then the ABAG should just use eminent domain to grab the ROW from CALTRAIN ( I bet it still has an operating loss that taxpayers pay for ) and complete the BART loop the way WE WERE PROMISED THAT BART WAS GOING TO DO 40 YEARS AGO!

The build-out of RTD Light Rail has working examples of elevated terminals, parking garages and overhead connections to RTD parking lots.
( an irony, TROLLEYS used to run on the Denver Metro ROWs, RTD had to pull up OLDER TRACKS to put in new ones! )

If someone is going to spend a $ 1MILLION, use that to purchase ALL the old SP ROW and get BART on the Peninsula. You can see the elevated and UNION Station that is ready if and when HSR is actually being built.
Once the peds have an overhead crossing from Castro to Moffett, your intersection issues will not be such a problem.
The RTD Light Rail has Over and Under solutions for grade crossings. All the stuff people want IS ALREADY BUILT. Some with BNSF trackage running alongside.
So it is time for DEEDS, not WORDS. Try $200,000 or even $100,000 for those sheets of paper. Get RTD to e-mail all of the construction plans THAT HAVE WORKED. THAT is all your " subcontractors " have to do. Plus a paid week in Denver to take photographs of the final products on the blueprints.
Gee, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Posted by Sam
a resident of another community
on Nov 25, 2015 at 5:50 am

My sentiments exactly! I so agree with PH. It was absolutely stupid that the city founders opposed completing the BART loop 50 years ago. Obviously, they didn't imagine for a couple of reasons. 1)That the area would turn into Silicon Valley. 2)There would be more people living and working, 3)There would be various forms of transportation, and 4)Moffett Field would someday close. I'm certain that the last one would have really surprised them and have them scratching their heads.

Posted by rainbow38
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Nov 25, 2015 at 8:04 am

@Sam - Moffett Field hasn't closed. NASA, private companies and military housing are there and there's lots of stuff going on!

Posted by live here
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Nov 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

So you blame the cities in San Mateo County, how about finally telling the real story about Bart. Bart wanted to be different, use tracks just a little wider. If Bart had used regular railroad gauge, all you need to do is put a third rail next to the current caltrain tracks. This was done in Europe without grade separating every street. But that would be to easy, everything needs to be complicated.

Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 26, 2015 at 4:32 pm

I did not realize that HSR was still considering a station in Mountain View at Castro Street. I thought the council voted against that a year or two ago simply because the city decided not to build the updated transit center above and over Central Expressway. But they are still considering doing that!!! If that is so, then why not consider this new transit center as a station stop for HSR.

Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 26, 2015 at 4:43 pm

"This could have been avoided years ago by building BART, but certain officials north of here messed it up for everyone. Now those up north are creating grade separation in places while we are not. Any way you look at it grade separation is the only good solution. Rengstorff and Castro should be done no matter what the cost."

Thanks PH for this comment. You are correct 100%; Rengstorff AND Castro Street should have grade separation no matter what the cost. And decades ago this cost would have been far cheaper. With the electrification of Caltrain and then HSR trains passing through, motorists and pedestrians do not want to be stopped for long periods of time as the trains roll by and the crossing arms down most of each hour. Grade separation should happen.

On another note, if Caltrain and HSR trains are to use the same tracks, north and south, then how would a Caltrain get out of the way for an HSR train, or vice versa? This is stumping me...

Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Nov 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

The case for standard rail gauges and BART gauges.

First, some humor:

Every road started with the Romans designing and specifying roads. Then standards were set and rutted roads made things difficult for travel. Then the Iron Horse was created to take care of the rutted road problem. The standard gauge matched the ruts of the roadways they replaced. what was the standard gauge? The old Roman standard: The width of a Roman Chariot with two horses side-by-side. That means the standard gauge was made by a couple of horses a$$es.

When you have a standard gauge track, that leaves EVERYONE to try and use that track. If you have a Catenary overhead power system, everyone REALLY will want to use that trackage. The trackage could be used by the military and regular passenger use disrupted.
That cannot happen to the BART system. That gauge was set for comfort and speed.

RTD light rail IS run on the standard gauge trackage. A military use would be to the Federal Center ( the place where we could have a mid-country government if Washington D.C. is destroyed ) to make sure personnel arrive safely. BART does not need to do this.

To keep Light Rail from interfering with U.S. Highway 6 traffic, there is a sweeping span grade separation. To a NEW hospital built right next to the Federal Center. Think of the implications that BART could never have, even if the SFBA loop was created.
Yes, both upper and lower grade separation is needed; we keep having too many accidents and deaths on these tracks.
You could put up as many fences you want, someone who is determined will still get through. Just build those grade separations and remove the vehicle accidents. You could also build pedestrian overpasses to keep bikes and pedestrians safe. Again, RTD Light Rail has great examples of these structures too.

Seriously, this stuff is done already! No $1 MILLION NEEDED for a study!

Posted by Phil Aaronson
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 30, 2015 at 11:16 am

San Antonio station numbers are also up, but are a fraction of Mountain View's (4570 departures to 872). The reason more people don't use San Antonio has a lot to do with the express trains skipping San Antonio and stopping exclusively at the Mountain View station. I live right next to San Antonio, and even I sometimes find myself using the Mountain View station. Similarly companies shuttles, like Google used to stop and pick up at San Antonio because it is more convenient, but that stopped when Caltrain implemented the express trains.

A very simple way to adjust traffic going into and out of the Mountain View station is to simply try to balance Mountain View's Caltrain traffic between the two stations.

Posted by tina
a resident of Castro City
on Nov 30, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Adjusting train schedules for a few people at the Crossings wreaks of entitlement. A lot of working class use the Caltrain to get up and down the peninsula. Sorry if not all the trains stop at your doorstep every 30 minutes.

Posted by Local Transit
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 30, 2015 at 7:41 pm

To add on to Phil Aaronson's point, it would be great if there were some local, rapid link between San Antonio and Castro. Unfortunately the BRT project (if it goes through) will connect the two areas, but run parallel to Caltrain and 2 miles away from it, so not very useful here.

In general this is a repeating architecture along the Peninsula-- Palo Alto has University Ave and California Ave-- Cal Ave sees moderate use, but nothing compared to University.

If we had all the money in the world, it would be an interesting design to have city-wide loops that connect El Camino and Central at the cities' more popular junctions. If travelers could get from (say) San Antonio Ave to Castro via public transit reliably in under 10 minutes, we could possibly eliminate the Caltrain stop altogether.

Posted by Phil Aaronson
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 1, 2015 at 10:14 am

Yep, both Menlo and Cal Ave stops with respect to Palo Alto are also very similar. You cannot park at Palo Alto if you get there after 8am, the parking lot is completely full. Adding more trains that stop more often at Palo Alto and Mountain View aren't really going to solve the underlying issue, which is that the heavy use stations are nearing capacity. You can spend a lot more money reconfiguring Mountain View, and Palo Alto etc which may or may not help, or you can start to move toward spreading the load across the stations.

Just a thought, but could there slot in an alt-express in the schedule? If an Express Train stops at San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Hillsdale, Millbrae and SF could there slot in an alt-express that runs right behind it but stops at the stations next to those (and SF and San Jose)?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 1, 2015 at 11:31 am

If you must build it, why not build the pod system underground instead of ruining our existing neighborhoods?

Posted by Anthodyd
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Dec 2, 2015 at 10:51 am

BJD's idea above of a MV Transit center that spans over central Expressway and CT tracks and becomes a terminal for pod car/monorail service is just the sort of innovative planning we need. Access to the N. Bayshore along Steirlin/Shoreline is doable without impacting surface traffic and providing another 'bridge' across 101- said bridge is becoming more of a necessity as business activity ramps up.
Improving access from the Whisman side will not totally solve traffic without VTA service. VTA is not popular, generally viewed as a last resort by most residents, despite its efforts to improve with hybrid vehicles.
More effort is needed to extend service to neighboring cities, as MV alone cannot accommodate projected 30K+ new workers. Rents already are becoming to high for most non-technical, retired residents and students attending schools important for them if they expect to afford living locally. Have there been any studies to establish the "break-even" costs of living beyond Silicon Valley with the commuting costs, whether auto/rail/bus, never mind the personal costs of time and experienced wear and tear during said commute?

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