The VTA board is scheduled to consider the next phase of the project bringing BART to Silicon Valley on Thursday November 6 – just four weeks after VTA staff first presented an updated recommendation about the next phase of the project. (The BART-Silicon Valley project is being managed by VTA).
As reported earlier, VTA staff proposed that the next phase to be implemented should include the Downtown and Diridon stations (connecting to Caltrain at Diridon), but should defer the stations planned for Alum Rock and City of Santa Clara.
Update: according to a clarification from VTA staff, the board will not be taking a vote on November 6. Â So, is it the case that VTA staff can move forward with a 2-station project preferred for federal funding an environmental clearance without board approval? We’ll check further and post as we learn more.
In response to the announcement, community members in the Alum Rock area have been expressing concern (see the comments to this blog post). The community had engaged in a planning process for nearly a decade for the area around proposed BART station and BRT line, resulting in a urban village plansÂ with broad community support.
VTA scheduled a community meeting meeting where staff will present and be available to answer questions about the proposal, the day before the VTA board meeting where the decision is scheduled to be made. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 5th at 6:30pm, at Martin Luther King Library 150 E. San Fernando second floor. Â This close scheduling will make it difficult for community members to communicate to the board.
To prepare for the public meetings, there is a neighborhood association meeting tomorrow night – Thursday, October 30th at 6:30pm, at McKinley Center, 651 Macredes Ave in San Jose, organized by community members seeking to keep the Alum Rock BART station.
Why these decisions, and why so fast?
The reason given by VTA staff for the proposal to defer the stations at Alum Rock and City of Santa Clara is that the two-station version would have the highest likelihood in qualifying for federal funding. Â VTA has published their high level analysis, but not the breakdown of the scoring criteria they estimated.
However, at a BART Environmental Justice Committee meeting after the announcement, the deferring of the Alum Rock station was raised as a potential issue with regard to federal Title VI legislation, which discouraged transit decisions that have “disparate impact” on lower income and/or minority populations. Â Title VI concerns could increase the risk to federal funding.
To explain the speed of the decision, the VTA staff made a case that being further along toward receiving federal funding would help pass a November 2016 ballot measure. Â This argument is difficult to understand – voters have approved the various phases of BART to San Jose because the project is popular. Â There will be a minuscule number of voters who will vote based on their understanding of exactly where the project stands in a multi-step process to fully qualify for federal funding.
The decision to defer the Santa Clara station seems logical, since that station already has Caltrain service connected to Diridon, and the station only has about 800 daily riders. Â It seems redundant to offer those riders an extra $800 Million station. Â Â Another reason originally provided for that station a decade ago was an airport connection, however since the evolution of plans for High Speed Rail and the Diridon Station Area, there are more recent proposals to connect to the airport from the major Diridon multi-modal station.
Are you interested in the next phase of the project that will connect Caltrain to BART at Diridon, and in the overall benefits and impacts of the project decisions – here’s where to learn more and weigh in:
Thursday October 30, 6:30pm
Neighborhood Association Meeting
McKinley Center, 651 Macredes Ave, San Jose
Wednesday, November 5th at 6:30pm
VTA community meeting
Martin Luther King Library, second floor
150 E. San Fernando, San Jose
Thursday November 6, 5:30pm
VTA Board Meeting
Santa Clara County Supervisors Chamber
70 West Hedding, San Jose
There is no board action being taken- the board is being presented information regarding initial efforts and information on strategies to deliver the next phase of BART Silicon Valley. Do not hesitate reaching out to me directly. email@example.com
So glad that you posted this.
From the instant I read an update about the VTA/BART SV change hit me like a lightning bolt!
Like in Watergate… the key questions are
1) What did you know VTA/BART SV?
2) When did you know it VTA/BART SV
They need to rebuild public trust.
If noone else will say it, I will.
They are trying to pull a fast one.
I do not feel this is about Alum Rock, per se.
Their grouping of Alum Rock in with Santa Clara can only be because they are wanting to hide the TRUE cost of going all of the way to Santa Clara. A location that is a joke.
My fears are many:
1) That taking away Alum Rock in it’s present location disenfranchises the very people who need it most
2) That the phase 3 could be 10-15 years later
3) That taking out the Alum Rock location could actually hurt, not help the Phase 2 chances for Federal funding precisely because it is abandoning this neighborhood
4) The proposed location on 23rd St is too close to downtown and makes it too far from the Five Wounds area
5) The local community has worked 10-12 years in partnership and this is being tossed aside casually like a cigarette out the window on the freeway.
6) The current location is right on the Five Wounds Trail and as the amazing collaboration and documentation will show can be the rebirth of that area
7) A bike/ped bridge connecting the community east of Hwy 101 further connects the community that is now divided by Hwy 101
8) The technical reasons for the change – the bridge, the alignment. Why are these only now being discussed? Surely VTA/BART SV has studied these previously. We need technical experts to look into this.
9) The collaboration and support of all members of the community and politicians does play a part in grants and the eventual success of the ridership numbers.
VTA/BART SV tearing this apart could be a concern at the Federal level.
10) Having almost NO chance for public input over several meetings is an insult to the public/gov’t process.
Public input on Nov 5th and VTA making a decision on Nov. 6th? Give me a break folks. There needs to be a give and take and VTA/BART SV needs to get their leadership and engineers time to discuss all options.
11) Bonus question: How do we get leadership of VTA/BART SV changed/removed/fired?
Is there a process for this?
This is such an egregious “breach of the public trust” that “heads should roll.” The people that made these decisions at the highest levels should resign or should get fired!
[…] Decisions on Cutting BART’s Planned Alum Rock Station Moving Quickly (Green Caltrain) […]
Thanks for clarifying, I updated the post that no vote will be taken on November 6. So, is it the case that VTA staff can move forward with a 2-station project preferred for federal funding an environmental clearance without board approval?
Despite the currently ‘low’ ridership at Santa Clara to lose a Station with service to SJC with the #10 and adjacent to the new Earthquakes Stadium opening in 2015, and Coleman Highline project/campus ridership will more than double and should supplement a BART station next to Levi’s
News at 6: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Alum-Rock-BART-Station-in-Limbo-281005802.html
News at 11: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Planned-Alum-Rock-BART-Station-in-Limbo/281036252
If ridership doubles, that would still not put it in the top 5 Caltrain stations. Very hard to see how that would justify creating a duplicate station at the location at this time.
The neighborhood groups there should well understand that as long as BART being the transit mode and underground rail as the form, there’s no reasonable way for VTA to keep its promise, and that’s why for more than a decade transit advocates have been fighting this. We have been saying again and again that VTA’s numbers never worked (cutting this may make the number work better but not completely).
If they can come up with a Berkeley solution to self fund this then this may work. Since that area will also receive a lot of transit investment through Alum Rock BRT, I don’t think it would be reasonable to reduce transit investments in other parts of the county to pay for this.
VTA has not disclosed the information they’re using to draw their conclusions about ridership and price/performance. It may be that there are opportunities for value capture or other local funding. But so far it’s impossible to tell, because there isn’t enough information to analyze and propose alternatives.