Transportation

Fight for Flights

No Comments
April 6  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … San Jose Airport is taking off.

Literally.

In the past three years, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has actively championed several international flights out of San Jose International Airport:

  • ANA to Tokyo began January 11, 2013
  • Hainan Airlines to Beijing began June 15, 2015
  • British Airways to London starts May 4, 2016
  • Air Canada to Vancouver starts May 9, 2016
  • Lufthansa to Frankfurt starts July 1, 2016

It’s time to look within the U.S. rather than just abroad. Our recent survey of 120 executives identified some of the top domestic destinations:

  • New York City
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Chicago
  • Boston
  • Seattle

If given a preference based on convenience or cost, 89 percent would prefer flights from San Jose Airport, 3 percent from San Francisco Airport. Now the hard part: trying to convince airlines to care about the choices and concerns of their customers – and making the business case for multi-billion dollar decisions.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group will fight for flights. Please join us.

Tagged , ,

Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project

No Comments
March 9  |  Education, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . There are two ways to weather a storm – buy umbrellas or build boats.

In Silicon Valley, to battle the economic storms of international competition, the better way – the most successful way – is to build boats that lift everyone in our Valley when the inevitable rainstorms occur.

That’s why we commission the “Silicon Valley Competitiveness & Innovation Project,” in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, comparing Silicon Valley with the other top five tech regions in the United States, as well as international regions like London, Seoul, Berlin and Beijing.

The findings – like our Valley – show that we have “high-highs” and some “low-lows.”

Our strengths are to be celebrated:
* Talent, risk-capitol and R&D, idea generation, commercialization and business innovation, labor productivity and jobs in innovation industries.

Our challenges are to be assessed and addressed:
* Cost of doing business, home and rental rates, traffic congestion, math proficiency in 8th grade, reading proficiency in 3rd grade and pre-school enrollment.

Take traffic – The average Silicon Valley commuter loses 75 minutes each week due to traffic congestion, above their normal commute time. As a region, we lose $5.4 billion annually due to congestion – in lost productivity, vehicle wear and tear and increased gas usage. During commute hours, our economy – literally – comes to a stand-still.

Concerned? Read more at SVCIP.com. Silicon Valley is still the innovation engine of the world, but resting on our laurels will move us from the driver’s seat to the back seat, which we cannot allow to happen.

Tagged ,

I am now “High” on High-Speed Rail

No Comments
February 19  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . I’m now “high” on High-Speed Rail.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is poised to pivot, adjusting their work-plan to come first to San Jose and Silicon Valley, rather than building first toward Los Angeles.

Why does this matter? For Silicon Valley commuters, this is a convergence of commute alternatives in-tune with the innovation economy:

First, High-Speed Rail between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley, linking Fresno in 1 hour, Merced in 45 minutes and Gilroy in just 15.

Second, with our efforts to electrify Caltrain where High-Speed Rail and Caltrain will converge in Downtown San Jose, we will double the number of people who can use Caltrain on a daily basis, from 60,000 to 120,000 daily trips.

Third, the BART extension to downtown San Jose, connecting with High-Speed Rail and Caltrain, means rapid rail throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

For those balancing housing costs with horrific commutes, High-Speed Rail to San Jose is also a game changer. For that teacher, fire fighter or police officer working in an expensive Silicon Valley city, a home in Gilroy is suddenly a 15-minute commute. Merced? Just 45 minutes.

Silicon Valley is a land of opportunity for many. High-Speed Rail, linked with electrified Caltrain and BART to downtown San Jose, expands that opportunity for tens of thousands of citizens for quicker commutes and more affordable homes.

Let’s build.

Tagged , ,

Pothole 1, Prius 0

No Comments
February 4  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Pothole and PriusHere’s food for thought . . . . Pothole 1, Prius 0.

On Wednesday morning, I had one of those “is this happening to me” moments, while traveling to Sacramento for meetings with some top legislative leaders – ironically, to discuss transportation funding for road maintenance and pothole repairs.

After descending the Altamont Pass, driving between two rather large trucks in the center lane, my back right tire literally blew up after hitting an especially bumpy patch of road. As my car pulled in one direction closer to the semi-truck to my right, I was able to get around the truck and over two lanes onto a very narrow shoulder before my car became inoperable.

AAA was/is awesome, but it was a 90-minute wait until the tow truck arrived, as it was hard to pinpoint precisely where I was – until technology stepped in by using Waze to better direct the tow truck driver to my location. Thanks Google!

I was lucky that I didn’t get into a serious accident. And I had a wonderful surprise when – after reading my tweet about the blow-out – East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwellasked if he or his staff could be of help. Now THAT is constituent service.

The incident with the pothole was a visceral reminder as to why California needs to get serious about better maintaining our 50,000 miles of state highways, 15,000 bridges and our extensive local street and road network. It also reinforces why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group believes any future local transportation ballot measure in November must include funds to repair and maintain our roads.

San Jose Mayor Liccardo jokes that potholes in San Jose have been “re-purposed” into “traffic calming devices,” and I often joke that with El Niño, our potholes can be used for neighborhood swimming pools. On Wednesday morning, the joke was on me – and my wallet – after shelling out $500 for new tires and roadside assistance.

Tagged ,

Failing to plan is planning to fail

No Comments
December 23  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Nearly 200 executives from 120 member companies of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group gathered on Dec. 16 at Santa Clara University to debate and decide our 2016 action plan to strengthen our region and state’s economy and to improve the quality of life for our employees, their families and the broader community.

Top of the list: Traffic. As we have successfully accomplished 4 times in 3 decades, the Leadership Group is once again willing to lead efforts in Santa Clara County for a transportation funding measure in November of 2016 to finalize the BART extension, double the capacity of Caltrain Commuter Rail Service, improve basic transit service for seniors, students, workers and the disabled, improve bike and pedestrian facilities – especially near schools, ease traffic congestion on all eight county expressways (Almaden, Capitol, Central, Foothill, Lawrence, Montague, Oregon and San Tomas); key highway interchanges on 101, 85, 87, 280 and 237, and to fill potholes and maintain streets in all 15 cities and towns.

A recent “call for projects” by the Valley Transportation Authority identified $47.8 billion in transportation funding needs. At most, a transportation measure will generate $6 billion over 30 years. Like we all do with our family budgets, this means setting priorities to build a system of transportation improvements that provides relief throughout the County, identifies specific improvements and offers the accountability that we, as taxpayers, deserve. Interested in helping? Contact the Leadership Group. Gridlock might describe our nation’s politics, but it doesn’t have to describe our local roads and highways.

Tagged , ,

It’s time for Version 2.0

No Comments
November 5  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . In Silicon Valley, when a product or service doesn’t succeed, it’s time for “Version 2.0.”

Such is the case before our San José City Council on Tuesday, November 10, at 1:30pm, when the Council considers a new pilot project that to allow ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber to pick-up passengers at Mineta San José International Airport. The Council passed a “pilot program” in June, but its onerous provisions precluded any rideshare company from participating. To its credit, the Council has sought a modified pilot program, much more in-line with the stringent but consistent requirements mandated at 25 other airports and nearly 300 cities across the country.

As you can imagine, the incumbent taxicab industry is fighting such market-competition tooth and nail. Their latest gambit is public safety. Let’s dissect that argument. Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber provide well over 2 million rides in the U.S. each week. If even one percent of those rides were unsafe, that would be 20,000 incidents or accidents every single week. But perhaps the taxi industry thinks it’s only one-tenth of 1 percent that are unsafe. Then we would be reading news reports of 2,000 incidents or accidents each week. But maybe the taxi lobbyists only mean one-hundredth of 1 percent are unsafe – but then we would be reading news reports about 200 incidents or accidents each week, 52 weeks per year.

So let’s really talk safety, accountability and transparency: A rideshare passenger clicks an app and knows instantly the license plate, car make, driver, and consumer rating of the driver. GPS tracking follows every ride. At the end of every ride, the passengers and the driver rate each other. These safety and accountability precautions are unheard-of in taxis. It also underscores why rideshare companies like Lyft enjoy a passenger base that is 60 percent women. They know they are safer.

Let’s support our City Council in providing real choices for San José residents and employees flying into San José International. Join me at the council meeting or email your San José Councilmember and Mayor today. When it comes to customer choice at San José’s airport, let’s not let the taxi lobby leave the rest of us stuck at the curb.

Tagged , , ,

Leveling the Playing Field for Ridesharing at SJC

No Comments
November 3  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Taxis have a monopoly over rideshare companies.

“Unlevel Playing Field.” It has been the incessant – yet completely inaccurate – rallying cry of incumbent taxi companies over rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber, that cannot currently pick up passengers at Mineta San José International Airport.

In June, I predicted before the City Council that its “pilot program” to allow rideshare companies to pick up passengers, launched on September 1, would have zero participants. Seven weeks after the “pilot program’s” launch, there isn’t a single participant. City residents, workers and visitors have been left standing, literally, at the curb.

It is why 93 Silicon Valley CEOs – with tens of thousands of employees based in San José – have written to the City Council to urge the adoption of a policy that allows ridesharing companies to serve our airport. Read their letter here.

Yet the cries of “unlevel playing field” are actually the opposite.

* Seeking accountability and transparency? A ridesharing passenger clicks an app and knows instantly the license plate, car make, driver, and consumer rating of the driver. GPS tracking follows every ride. And at the end, the passengers and the driver rate each other. These safety precautions are unheard of in taxis. It also explains why ridesharing companies like Lyft enjoy a passenger base that is 60 percent women.

* Concerned about the City budget for essential services? The City’s own 2013 audit reveals the incumbent taxi industry costs taxpayers $272,000 in lost revenue. The airport acknowledges rideshare companies will earn revenue for the City. At SFO, allowing rideshare companies at the airport has already earned it $4 million in just 10 months.

* Concerned about safety? The exhaustive screening process of ridesharing companies turns away 4 of every 5 potential drivers. When a recent official in another jurisdiction found a few Uber drivers had criminal records that should have kept them from driving, most media accounts ignored that Uber’s process screened out more than 600 would-be drivers, self-identified as current taxi drivers, who had criminal records.

Yes, let’s have a “level playing field.” But as so often happens, it is the entrenched incumbent industry that cries “foul,” while enjoying all the power of incumbency; including a playing field greatly slanted in its favor.

San José, it’s time for “version 2.0.” Let’s not leave our residents, workers and visitors standing at the curb.

The San José City Council wants to assist the taxi industry to help it continue to survive and thrive. That’s fine. Let’s keep in mind that when rideshare companies were allowed to serve customers at SFO and in Denver the amount of taxi rides actually increased. Rather than fighting over the crumbs, the pie grew for both taxis and rideshare companies.

The cries of an “unlevel playing field” are simply not accurate. Let’s let those who wish to ride decide.

If you wish to join me in respectfully weighing in with the City Council, please join me at the Council hearing on November 10 at 1:30 pm, and call or email your San Jose Councilmember and the mayor today.

Tagged , , , , ,

San Jose International is Taking Off

No Comments
October 15  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . With our CEO Airport Task Force, San José International is Taking Off.

Five years ago, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group launched our CEO Airport Task Force, committed to the success of San José International Airport. With the active engagement of nearly 200 CEOs and senior officers, five key international flights were targeted for attraction:

  • Tokyo
  • London
  • Beijing
  • Frankfurt
  • Seoul

With great city leadership first from San José Mayor Chuck Reed and now from Mayor Sam Liccardo, one airline after another has added routes to SJC. First was the ANA flight between San José and Tokyo, initially launched on January 11, 2013. Next was the Hainan Airlines flight between San Jose and Beijing, launched this year on June 15. Then, in partnership with British Airways, a direct San José to London flight will launch on May 4, 2016. And now, after a four-year courtship, Lufthansa will initiate a direct daily flight between San José and Frankfurt this spring.

In baseball, “four out of five” would get you in the Hall of Fame, but not in Silicon Valley. Our CEO Airport Task Force has one more key international destination – Seoul, South Korea.

Our commitment to each airline is simple – provide the planes and we will help provide the passengers. Through the on-going leadership of nearly 390 member companies, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is committed to keeping our part of that bargain. Join us. Fly with us. Together, working with Mayor Liccardo, our airport and the city council, we can be sure that San José truly is taking off.

Tagged , ,

It’s Time to Fix Our Roads

No Comments
September 9  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Where does California experience more gridlock – On our state highways, or in our state Capitol?

By Friday, the state Legislature will decide whether to adopt a sensible mix of reforms and revenue to fund improvements to repair our streets and repave our potholes. Reforms are essential to squeeze out the most value of every dollar we already invest to fix our state highways and our local streets and roads. Yet with a funding gap of $59 billion in deferred maintenance just on our state highway system, new revenue is also needed.

After eight months of Legislative discussions, Governor Brown stepped forward last week and proposed a balanced plan that helps ensure we invest in improvements that will save commuters both time and money. With one of every four state highway miles in poor condition, and nearly three of 10 miles of our local streets in equally bad shape, it’s time the state Legislature moved forward.

Put simply, if the Legislature cannot move forward to pass a transportation plan which balances needed reforms and necessary revenue, then California commuters can’t move forward either. Call your state Legislator today. Let’s not let the Legislature kick-the-can down the crumbling road. It’s time to act.

British Airways: Well Worth the Wait

No Comments
August 26  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Like most “overnight successes,” this one was four years in the making.

Four years ago, our Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted a dinner with 20 member company executives and the leadership of British Airways, working to win a direct flight between London and San Jose.

Four years later, we announced Wednesday with British Airways North America Senior Vice President Simon Brooks and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo that direct service between London and San Jose will launch on May 4 of next year.

In a Valley known for taking big risks with the potential for big rewards, we recognize that placing a 787 Dreamliner for new international service is a significant decision. Each flight is an investment of a quarter of a million dollars, on a plane valued at roughly $200 million.

Yet we are confident the flights will be full. With 481 Silicon Valley companies with business operations in London and the UK, and 118 British companies with locations in Silicon Valley, this is a marriage made in heaven on both sides of the Atlantic.

It’s also a sign that San Jose is on the rise – or, in the words of our Mayor Sam Liccardo, that “San Jose is taking off.”

Through our partnership with the Mayor and the airport, the Leadership Group has now helped secure direct international flights to Tokyo in 2013, to Beijing last June, and now London come next May.

One more victory for the citizens of Silicon Valley – well worth the wait.

Tagged , ,