Transportation Strategy in the TRANSDEF RTP Alternative

To move people long distances across the region, the TRANSDEF Smart Growth Alternative relies on a few key projects and a redeployment of existing services. It is assumed that a statewide high speed rail (HSR) system will be operational within the next 25 years. The TRANSDEF Smart Growth Alternative has placed this major transportation investment where it will do the most good for the region, along the I-580 Altamont Corridor between the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area. HSR provides a high-capacity, high-speed service for commuters from outside the region traveling to the Tri-Valley Valley area, Santa Clara County, and the rest of the inner Bay Area. It replaces the Altamont Commuter Express, ties into BART (via very short extensions) in west Livermore and Fremont, and closes the rail gap between Fremont and San Jose.

Highway Project Selection Methodology
In general, the Alternative did not invest in major (meaning those with a cost over $5 million) capacity-increasing projects, unless they were already under contract for construction or were being paid for 100% by developer mitigation funds. All proposed safety projects were funded.

Transit Project Selection Methodology
To support and encourage the TRANSDEF land use, a series of new "Rapid Bus” lines were distributed throughout the region to serve the newly densified arterials. New rail services throughout the region connect communities, but the expanded bus service throughout each community is the backbone of the transportation network. Service on local bus routes is doubled on many lines, and improved passenger amenities, including real time arrival information are made available for bus passengers throughout the region.

Caltrain was expanded and electrified to provide a BART level of service at a greatly reduced cost. The TRANSDEF Alternative selected projects that use this electrified conventional rail technology in place of currently planned BART-gauge extensions, due to their compatibility with High Speed Rail and their being far more cost-effective. A new rail line runs from the Alameda - San Joaquin County border through North San Jose to downtown San Jose, providing greatly increased ACE service, a fast connection to the BART system in Fremont and tremendous operational flexibility. These tracks will provide service to local Bay Area cities, to the Central Valley, to Sacramento, as well as HSR service to Southern California.

Most of the investments in transit expansion for already-developed areas utilize Rapid Bus
technology, because of its dramatic cost advantages when compared to rail. A lower-cost European model for reactivating rail service on existing suburban rights-of-way was selected for areas undergoing significant growth. Modern DMU service (Diesel Multiple Unit cars are self-powered “rail buses” that are not hauled by a locomotive) can operate efficiently in areas that lack the density for transit-level rail service, while attracting extensive new development.

Rapid Bus
Most trips are not long haul commutes that are improved with new railroad service. "Rapid Bus" serves shorter distance trips to local destinations such as schools and grocery stores. Rapid Bus is modeled on the very successful program in Los Angeles, which already has nine "Metro Rapid" bus lines serving over 140 miles of routes. Each Bay Area Rapid Bus stops only at the busiest stops, with schedules offering very frequent service. Today in the Bay Area, there is just one Rapid Bus line, on San Pablo Avenue, run by AC Transit. After one year of service, ridership is up over 25% and travel time has been improved by over 15%. The headway (the waiting time between buses) is 12 minutes.

Besides fewer stops, these bus routes are designed to make travel faster. With more doors to load passengers, buses stop for a shorter time. Proof-of-payment speeds up loading by enabling passengers to use the back doors. In addition, Transit Preferential Streets will speed buses by providing transit priority at traffic signals, queue jumps, optimized bus stops, improved pavement, and exclusive bus lanes where needed. Low floor buses and raised sidewalks may provide one-step or no-step entry. The Rapid Bus lines do not have park and ride facilities, as they are designed to serve significant activity centers where people are already congregated. Because Rapid Bus is based on limited stop service, underlying local service in many communities was retained and in some cases improved as well.

Local arterials have their streetscapes improved to support the new development and to make it easier for pedestrians, bicyclists and persons with disabilities to get around. Highway money that only benefits cars is redeployed to transit arterials where it will benefit autos, bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as adding beauty and safety to communities. In order to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other civil rights laws, money is being invested to provide accessible paths of travel for new transit lines and also to improve paths of travel to existing transit. Making fixed route service accessible, and more readily usable by, persons with disabilities will limit the rate of increase of the cost of providing ADA paratransit service. Such public works improvements also enhance the walkability and “playability” of many neighborhood environs, and contribute to quality of life.