Sunnyvale BPAC will discuss bike trail access around Levi’s Stadium Thursday, September 18, 2014. Details below parking and transit discussion.
Besides the 20-28 loss to the Chicago Bears at Sunday’s game at the brand new Levi’s 49ers Stadium in Santa Clara, the thing people complained loudly about was the post-game traffic.
— Peggy Bunker (@PeggyBunker) September 15, 2014
70,000 people all trying to leave a large stadium simultaneously will cause congestion problems, no matter what. The 10,000 people who rode VTA transit report they were whisked away fairly quickly, with ambassadors directing people to the right trains, portable Clipper readers, and inspectors checking fares as riders entered the stations.
Those who parked in the cheap (distant) lots had to walk a little further, but they mostly report reasonable egress time.
The 15,000 or so attendees who paid to park in the close-in lots, however, experienced a parking nightmare.
Niners faithful who parked in two large inner lots along the train tracks saw their frustrations over the team’s crushing defeat compounded by gridlock.
“I went 25 feet in an hour,” said season ticket holder Jerry Karp of Santa Clara.
After an hour or so some attendees decided to take matters in their own hands, knocking over the temporary chain-link fences or driving over obstacles such as medians to escape.
— Peggy Bunker (@PeggyBunker) September 15, 2014
The problem, according to 49ers VP for operations Jim Mercurio? It’s those danged people walking and riding the train causing the problems!
Those fans in the affected blue and green lots, which hold about 10,000 vehicles combined next to the stadium, have exit lanes that cross pedestrian paths and train tracks, with trains leaving every five minutes after the game. That means there were only small windows for vehicles to exit.
Since so many more people drive than take the train, Mercurio’s team will look at slowing down train service, perhaps to every seven or eight minutes, to let more vehicles through, among other potential changes.
If only there weren’t so many of those trains.
VTA published this strong response this morning. They don’t pull any punches:
A recent assertion that light rail was impeding traffic and that the frequency of light rail service to the stadium needs to be decreased to allow more cars through may have raised the concern of some of our riders: is VTA really considering slowing down trains to benefit cars?
The short answer is no.
It bears repeating that mass transportation is the most efficient way to move people to and from large events. With trains leaving every 5 minutes and supplemental bus service to help carry people home, VTA moved a total of 9,400 passengers in 65 minutes for the first regular-season 49ers game on Sept. 14. Transit is not the problem; transit is a solution.
If we slowed down trains or decreased their frequency, we would negatively impact that solution and would provide no tangible benefit to vehicle movement.
As the designated Congestion Management Agency for Santa Clara County, we are offering our expertise in managing traffic flow, and will continue to work with our partners to improve transportation to and from the stadium for all users. And because of decades of experience, we know 5-minute train frequencies are key to maximizing movement.
Rah. I encourage you to read the full statement.
Cyclelicious is a cycling blog, so of course it’s worth mentioning the two hundred or so people who biked to the game on Sunday. Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition now provides attended valet bike parking in Red Lot 1.
Silicon Valley Bike Coalition at Levi's stadium. Have 150 bikes they are holding for bikers and VTA transit riders! pic.twitter.com/ld21ccqohV
— Jim Lawson (@jim_lawson) September 15, 2014
I love how Erich Smith,, the General Manager for the Santa Clara Hilton, dealt with the parking situation at his facility, which was sold out for the weekend:
To help deal with the crowds, he came up with a plan to increase available parking and reduce traffic congestion. “On these game days, none of our hotel staff drives to the property. Everybody take public transportation, gets dropped off or like me, rode my bicycle,” Smith said.
In the meantime, the problem of the San Tomas Aquino Trail closure still exists, and riders report the trail remains closed through Monday morning. Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee was supposed to discuss this issue at this month’s meeting, but I don’t know what became of it.
The Sunnyvale BPAC has the Levi’s Stadium trail closure on their agenda for Thursday night’s meeting. This is interesting because Sunnyvale trails don’t touch Levi’s Stadium, although Sunnyvale residents can take trails in their city for eventual access to the stadium. If you’d like to give your input as a resident of Sunnyvale or a user of Sunnyvale facilities, the meeting takes place in the West Conference Room at Sunnyvale City Hall, 456 W. Olive Ave., Sunnyvale, CA. The meeting begins at 6:30 PM.
Other items on Sunnyvale’s agenda: Consider participation in Bay Area Bike Share (staff recommendation is wait and see); and finalize study issues for 2015. Proposed study issues are steps needed to become a Silver level Bicycle Friendly Community, convert “part-time” bicycle lanes on Homestead Avenue into “full-time” bike lanes, and creating a Safe Routes to School Map.