VTA scales back El Camino Bus Rapid Transit after city opposition

After Santa Clara County cities along the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route on El Camino Real signaled their opposition to the plan, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) are reworking their plans in the hopes of getting better local support.

VTA plans a 26 mile long BRT corridor along El Camino Real (ECR) and the Alameda from the HP Pavilion near downtown San Jose to the Palo Alto Transit Center. This upgrade of the existing 522 “Rapid” service converts 10 miles of general use lanes into bus-only lanes, with special BRT vehicles using “rail” style stations for faster, all-door boarding and 10 to 15 minute intervals between buses.

VTA Bus Rapid Transit
Although local approval is not required on El Camino Real, a state highway, VTA asked the cities affected by this project for supporting resolutions. While the city councils in San Jose and Santa Clara gave their whole-hearted endorsement, the city of Sunnyvale rejected the proposed plan after Sunnyvale car dealership operators registered their strong opposition to improved standards of living for their city. The cities of Los Altos and Mountain View also indicated they would oppose efforts to build a median bus lane, throwing their residents under the bus by telling VTA they like their noise, disease, smog and death thankyouverymuch.

In response to this political setback, VTA staff are reworking the proposed ECR BRT to just three miles of median bus lanes between Halford Ave (by Lawrence Expressway) and Lafayette Street (by the Santa Clara Transit Center) in the city of Santa Clara. While the rest of ECR would see significant improvements in the project, the buses would operate in mixed flow traffic and stop at right-lane curbside stations in Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto as well as in San Jose.

VTA staff finds lemonade in this lemon by pointing out that the revised plan still reduces VTA operational costs while improving service along Santa Clara County’s busiest transit route. The new plan also costs roughly half of the original.

These VTA recommendations will be presented to the VTA board at a workshop on at 9 AM on September 21, 2012. The public are also invited to attend and provide input.

More on this at Valley Rapid.


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