The Atlantic CitiLab has an interesting article:
The discussion is focused around a statement that is repeated over and over about new transit projects, which has been proven wrong time and time again.
“The region’s newest [xxxx] will add [more capacity] while relieving traffic and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process.”
They have said that about every freeway that has ever been built and every new lane that they’ve added to those freeways. They have said the same thing about every additional bus line, light rail line or expansion of any existing mass transit option.
However, as noted in the article, “There’s just the little problem of the evidence. With few exceptions, studies tend to find limited signs that transit has much of an impact on nearby road congestion.” The same goes for adding new lanes to a freeway. Simply stated, the highways quickly fill up and again become congested.
We need to begin looking at things differently:
- Population is going to continue to grow.
- The percentage of people over 55 will continue to grow.
- New people will continue to move into the area in search of jobs.
Instead of looking at transit solutions to “cure” our current transportation problems, I would recommend that we look at transit solutions to prevent future transportation requirements from making the problems worse than they are.
One example would be working on the Sprinter and expanding it to become a key component, connecting the people living in the upcoming Urban Villages to job centers.
The current Sprinter proposal does just that. It connects the growing residential neighborhoods, in the southern part of the county, to the booming job opportunities, in the northern part of the county, without adding to the problems on 101 and 87. It may not necessarily reduce traffic on those roads, but it will help keep them from getting worse, especially on game nights at Levi Stadium.
Here are some thoughts to meditate upon;
- Light rail is for dense urban core (+/- 10 miles)
- Sprinter/BART (light trains) are for longer distances (up to 20 miles end to end) meaning that BART between SJ and SF makes as little sense as the light rail between Santa Teresa and Mountain View.
- Urban rail (Caltrain) (up to 50 miles)
- Intercity rail (Amtrack/Leo Express) (up to 150 miles)
VTA’s 42.2-mile light rail line is one of the longest to be built in the U.S. in 50 years, putting it into the category that should be supported by a Sprinter/BART style service.
Bottom line is that commuters need transportation that will take them to their destination in one hour or less meaning that one size cannot possibly fit all (hence the need for “context-sensitive solutions”).