>Greg Perry                                                                                            
>BART to San Jose?
>Greg Perry was elected to the Mountain View City Council in 2002, and
>currently serves on the Technology Committee and Transportation Committee,
>among others. He is also an appointee to the Valley Transportation Authority
>(VTA) Policy Advisory Committee and the 2020 Peninsula Gateway Corridor
>Study Policy Advisory Committee.
>Greg will describe his opposition to the current plan to extend BART to
>San Jose and Santa Clara and discuss alternatives that he believes are
>better regional transportation solutions for the tax dollars spent.
Greg began his talk by conceding that bringing BART to San Jose sounds really good. However, bringing BART all the way to downtown San Jose is going to cost about $6 Billion, and the sales tax we voted for a few years ago ($4 Billion) isn't enough to do that. He has been looking around, and more and more he sees other options that would deliver more transit per dollar spent.

Greg explained that one of the problems with BART is that there is no other system quite like it. Because of this, we have to get our trains through Bechtel, and we have to pay what they want to charge for them. If the San Jose transit system used standard rail like CalTrain for our system, we could get replacement parts easily, we could pay commodity price for trains, and we wouldn't be tied to that one supplier  and their subcontractors.

One area that could benefit greatly is the ACE train. Right now it only runs a few times a day and isn't used much beyond the hard core commuter traffic. However, if the rail lines were double tracked and the frequency of the service went up a lot, it would make more sense as transit. It already connects with VTA, and can be made to connect with BART simply by building a station where the tracks cross. If we did that, we could serve many of the people that currently commute via 580 and 680 to Silicon Valley jobs with train service that would be reasonably direct and efficient. The whole project could be done for only $1.5 Billion, leaving lots of money for other improvements.

Another good route to use some of that money for is one connecting Redwood City with Fremont via the Dumbarton Bridge. This would put a triangle around the bottom of the bay, allowing many more people to get more or less directly to where they are going than can now.

The other thing to spend some of the money on is improving service on CalTrain to the point where people don't need schedules to ride it. Greg explained that what people like about BART is that they can just go down to the station and take the next train. With CalTrain you need a schedule to make sure you aren't spending an hour and a half waiting, which can happen in the evenings now. It would not take much of an investment to add trains and service, since we already have the tracks and stations on that route.

Greg finished by pointing out that BART to San Jose would only serve people that already live along that corridor. Adding better service on the ACE trains route and the Dumbarton route would make more transit available to more people. It would also not need more taxes than have already been voted for.

During Q&A the following came up:

VTA has to spend about $150 per hour to keep their busses on the road. This is high for the area. San Mateo County (SamTrans) does it for $110 per hour. In the East bay there are places like Richmond where the cost is $70 per hour. This is partly because VTA wasn't very cost conscious during the high tech bubble, and probably made a few wasteful decisions.

Bus drivers have a base salary of $54,329.   Overtime can bring that up to $75K. On top of that they get medical, pension, and retirement health benefits.  (Most private sector workers have to pay for their own retirement through 401k plans.)

One of the problems with getting an alternative approved by VTA is the fact that there are 5 members on the board from San Jose, and they tend to vote as a block. The other seven, representing different cities with different agendas, never seem to find enough common ground to unify around voting for something else. San Jose usually gets its way, since they only need two other votes.

If the Directors at VTA weren't making exorbitant salaries, the bus system could use the money to add thousands of hours of bus service.

The Great America VTA stop that connects with the ACE Train is where most people get on and off the ACE.

If VTA doesn't submit a final plan for building their transit system addition to the FTA by December 2006, we will lose the opportunity for lots of federal matching funds.

One of the reasons Ron Gonzalez likes BART to San Jose is that the developers that back him stand to benefit greatly from it, as do the people on the East Side of the city, who voted for him.

Tian Harter

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Alex wrote:

>  All the political hacks in Milpitas light to prattle
>about the VTA Light Rail and BART, but clearly do not give a hoot
about public transportation generally.

Political hacks serve their sponsors.
We have an interesting form of corruption in the US.
Instead of bribing public employees, the elites *choose* them.
Pundits too.  The American Enterprise Institute didn't have to
pay George Will and Rush Limbaugh to peddle its agenda, they
just waited for George Will and Rush Limbaugh to come along
and greased their skids.

> I ride buses fairly frequently and
>most of the folks you see on the bus around here are from the "lower
>classes" so the Great Silicon Valley Plutocracy doesn't really care if
>public transportation is good or not.

I think it's worse than that.  Most cities are run by real estate
developers.  San Jose and Milpitas are typical.  The mayor and
city council were chosen by developers for their personal beliefs
which match the developers' agendas exactly.
Almost everywhere, real estate developers *hate* mass transit.
They need it to *fail*.  That's because mass transit concentrates
land values around its corridors.  Real estate developers profit more
when land values are distributed evenly across a vast spawl.
(The exceptions are in places where the development is so dense
cars aren't practical.  Real estate developers in Tokyo
and Manhattan love mass transit.)

This is how Nixon and Kissinger came to power.  Nixon rode
Joe McCarthy's coat tails for his initial launch, but his real
ride to power was the Senate Transportation Committee where he
was the enemy of mass transit and the champion of the "Defense
Highways."  That is, he volunteered to serve the real estate
interests who run all the cities.  He couldn't lose.
Nixon thought mass transit was Communism and cars and houses
in far-flung burbs were Freedom.

> They'll spend billions for the
Light Rail, billions for BART, and
>billions for I-880.  It's all the same with them so long as they can
>use the power of imminent domain to seize property and their
>developer friends profit!

I remember how we got light rail.  The county establishment didn't
want it and the pundits were indifferent.  But there was a pot of
money, the 10% of what was spent in Santa Clara County "upgrading"
Highway 17 to Defense Highway 880, that Federal law says must be
spent on mass transit.  The real estate interests wanted to make
sure it wasn't spent effectively (for example by doubling the
frequency of the buses), that it would be wasted on a
system which would serve only a trivial number of people.
That is why they insisted that there be no light rail stop
at the airport.  Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group was particularly
adamant, no light rail to the airport.  The biggest landowners at
the time in the county were Lockheed and IBM, and they pulled the
strings to get the line run from one to the other, which immediately
doubled the value of their land holdings.  Nobody else wanted light
rail, so that's where it went.  Later, Cisco was big in real estate,
so the first expansion went through Cisco property to double
the value of its holdings.  These people aren't stupid.

>I didn't know till this very day that BART has to get expensive spare
>parts from (of all people) the Evil Empire of Bechtel.  God Almighty!

You can thank Richard Nixon and Caspar Weinberger for that.
I'm pretty sure Weinberger was on Bechtel's board.  The whole
idea of BART was to use the most expensive possible technology,
so that it would be too expensive to ever expand the system.
That's why they use those weird wheels, and gigantic disk
brakes instead of the industry standard regenerative braking,
and the weird third rail voltage, and that weird "gauge" where the
tracks are one inch closer together than standard rolling stock.
They tried to get magnetic levitation but the technology
wasn't ready.
When they build a BART line, they actually lay standard track
for the construction equipment, and then they rip it out and
put in that weird track for the passenger trains.
It's also why they use that strange IBM farecard system, which is
only used on BART and the DC Metro, instead of standard tokens
and flash passes.

>That's a scandal in and of itself.  My wife and I just took a little
>trip to Chicago for her family's reunion.  You can buy a ticket at
>O'Hare Airport that allows you to ride a CTA train into the City with
>two bus transfers for just a couple of bucks.  We got exactly where we
>wanted to go in Chicago with our bags in about an hour.  The contrast
>with the kludgey systems here in California could not be more dramatic.
>  This is the one area where, I am ashamed to say, California is really

My dynamics instructor had a term for designing stuff so it will
be broken on purpose.  Seat belt anchors in the wrong place so
shoulder harnesses will be uncomfortable and make people resent
"gummint reguhlation," that kind of thing.  He called it
"spite engineering" and there are examples everywhere you look.
The BART system and no light rail to the airport are spite