Some Questions On El Camino Real BRT Draft Docs

The idea of having dedicated bus lanes or even bus queue jumping lanes along El Camino Real sounds great. This has raised some questions, however.

On January 14, I wrote a letter on behalf of our group to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) providing input on its Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for their El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. Input for the letter was obtained from members on our Yahoo! Group email list.

Here is an excerpt from our letter to VTA regarding the El Camino Real BRT project:

* Why has VTA not mentioned how voters approved this project as part of 2000
Measure A? This would certainly clear up confusion amongst residents – some
of whom did not live in Santa Clara County when the measure was approved – on
needing a vote to have dedicated lanes along El Camino Real. This would also
have better informed City Council members and their constituents from Palo
Alto to Santa Clara on how this project was conceived in the first place.

Another excerpt from our letter to VTA questions their ridership claims for the project:

Another question involves VTA’s claims of over 18,600 boardings on the El
Camino Real BRT corridor in 2018 for the dedicated lane concept. (An
increase from over 12,000 in 2013.) How are these ridership projections
calculated?  The ridership projections in the DEIR/EA fail to note free
parking in shopping centers and apartment complexes along El Camino Real.
Such free parking helps undercut current and future ridership. One such
example: 1,029 free parking spaces at the newly renovated Santa Clara
Town Center on El Camino Real and Scott Blvd. in Santa Clara. Another
example: 1,300 parking spaces soon to be available at a renovated San
Antonio Shopping Center on El Camino Real and San Antonio Rd. in Mountain
View. Historically, such abundant free parking at shopping centers and
job sites encourages people to drive everywhere. What efforts have VTA
undertaken with cities to ensure such “free” parking does not undercut
current and future transit ridership along El Camino Real?

I eventually received confirmation email from Christina Jaworski, Senior Environmental Planner at VTA, of their receipt of the comments. I also received from her a schedule on how the rest of the process will occur: a “locally preferred alternative” to be decided in the Spring with the penultimate decision to be made this Summer or Fall.

What do YOU think of VTA’s El Camino Real BRT project? Should it be built at all, despite some questionable claims about ridership? If so, should the project be built with dedicated bus lanes or “bus queue jumping lanes” as stated and approved by voters in 2000? If not, what other alternatives need to be undertaken to resolve growing gridlock along El Camino Real in Santa Clara County?

Please discuss in the Comments section below.

Eugene Bradley
Founder, Silicon Valley Transit Users