ON THE TOPIC...
From the Executive Director
by Margaret Okuzumi
Feedback from our members and
friends is always helpful to us. I hope that
sharing the following email exchange
between me and BayRail member Robert
Clark will help clarify for our readers how
BayRail Alliance arrived at certain policy
Robert Clark wrote:
Margaret, Thanks for keeping me
informed about what's happening with
Caltrain. I live in Hollister and commute by
train from Gilroy to Hillsdale on a daily
basis. Living in San Benito County, I don't
often write the people you suggest but
occasionally some issues are important
enough that I do anyway.
Margaret Okuzumi replied:
Thanks! Wow, I don't envy your
commute. You're especially affected by
VTA's reluctance to devote any resources
to extending Caltrain to Salinas, for which
the Governor had budgeted a small amount
of money (relatively speaking as far as these
capital projects go), $5 million.
Reading about fare increases and
Gilroy service cutback reminds me of what
happened in Seattle in the 1960's. I was
going to college (UW) then and my summer
job was driving a bus for Seattle Transit.
Over the years ridership was dropping off
so the Transit system was having a hard time
meeting their budget. So they kept raising
fares and cutting back on service. That
resulted in lower ridership, and the cycle
continued. Then, someone had the bright
idea of decreasing fares and improving
service. And, voila, ridership increased
again. (And I was able to complete college.)
I say, provide something that people want
and they will buy it.
I can appreciate the need to increase
fares to keep up with inflation. After all,
operating expense does go up too. However,
instead of cutting back on Gilroy service,
increase it. How about a later train heading
north and an earlier train returning?
Maybe shoppers would use it.
Could be. Probably more cost-effective
and easily achievable (since you wouldn't
have to negotiate with UP over trackage
rights) would be for VTA to provide a super
express bus instead of just the slow local
#68 bus for such mid-day travel. I've been
asking VTA for that for some time, but they
need to hear more from folks who actually
live south of San Jose.
I also agree about California Avenue
improvements. And how about Santa Clara
and Atherton? Santa Clara has become
very busy since the ACE train stops there.
Additional parking for Sunnyvale is nice,
but how about helping the people who ride
Yes, Santa Clara and Atherton also need
to be improved. We keep hitting on California
Avenue because it's heavily used, it epito-
mizes all the problems, and because we know
that VTA won't consider doing much at Santa
Clara. For Santa Clara, despite the great need,
VTA is holding off improvements until they
complete their design for the BART extension,
which by act of sheer will, they declared BART
would go to Santa Clara from San Jose (even
though there isn't really room for it).
rail cars, and grade separation of every
road crossing on the Caltrain line. In
addition, BayRail is promoting further
improvement of the planned Caltrain
Express (a.k.a. Baby Bullet). These
trains would have all the same
characteristics of Caltrain Metro, but
with a top speed of over 100 mph on their own dedicated track along
most of the corridor.
The complex job of turning BayRail's proposal into 3D images
belonged to David Vasquez, a professional computer artist. His previous
work included images for proposed Muni Metro extensions to San
Francisco's Chinatown and to the Richmond District, as well as of
proposed dedicated bus lanes along Van Ness Avenue. In the
renderings, Vasquez portrayed transit vehicles, stations, and trees, and
blended these elements into photo-realistic
surroundings. "We are extremely pleased with
the images," said John Tseng, President of BayRail Alliance.
In the near future, BayRail plans to develop a full-scale
presentation and add more 3D images of Caltrain Metro and Express,
to show how these services will integrate with the proposed Dumbarton
rail and California High Speed Rail. "We hope to present our vision to
various community and business groups as well as to public officials.
We are going on tour to help inform the entire community of the great
resource we already have--Caltrain," Said Krause.
Caltrain has postponed the start of the
"CTX" construction and the weekend
shutdown until early July. Weekend regular
and special trains will continue to operate
until that time. The contractor was unable to
line up needed construction crews and
equipment, resulting in the delay. During the
weekend shutdown, Caltrain will provide
substitute buses between San Francisco and
San Jose, stopping only at Hillsdale and Palo
Alto stations. BayRail asked for this
replacement bus service to accommodate
weekend travelers affected by the shutdown.
The CTX project will install express
tracks and centralized train control necessary
to operate Caltrain Express. This new service
will make only four stops between San
Francisco and San Jose, and cut travel times
between the two cities to just over half that of
current local service. Caltrain plans to launch
its new express service by the end of 2003.
has impacted Caltrain as well. SamTrans, San
Francisco, and VTA jointly fund the
operation of Caltrain. In April, members of
the Caltrain Joint Powers Board approved a
general fare increase of about 10%, as well
as the elimination of the off-peak discount.
Mike Scanlon, Executive Director of Caltrain
and SamTrans, announced that the agency
also was considering cutting four weekday
trains to reduce expenditures.
BayRail Alliance has recognized the
financial difficulty that Caltrain is facing--
despite the the impact it would have on
Caltrain riders. The last time Caltrain fares
were increased was in 1998," BayRail's
Executive Director Margaret Okuzumi said.
"We at BayRail feel that this increase is
inevitable. BayRail is not opposing the
Caltrain fare increases outright."
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3D Images Envision Caltrain Metro & Express