Transportation

Politics. The ultimate team sport.

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May 24  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

This week, Silicon Valley, the Bay Area and California had a tremendous win.

In baseball parlance, it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs, with our team fighting for the electrification of Caltrain Commuter Rail Service, which looked to be in serious trouble.

But that’s when our sluggers came to the plate, and our entire region will benefit because of their collective efforts.

First, our senior Senator Dianne Feinstein. From start to finish, her tenacity in securing our $647 million in matching funds from the Federal Government never waned. Reasoned, reasonable but resolute, our well-respected Senator delivered with timely outreach to the President’s Secretary of Transportation, and bi-partisan outreach with her peers.

Second, our Governor Jerry Brown. Articulate and erudite, his political timing remains the best in the business. Weighing in with key leaders in D.C., both publicly and privately, he proves daily the skills developed over decades in honing the craft of compromise, consensus and common-ground.

Third, House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi. Tenacious, persistent and smart, Leader Pelosi knows how to negotiate in such a way that her principles never waver, while winning over others time and time again.

So for you and I living and working in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area, why does a 153-year old train, which started operations when Abraham Lincoln was President, even matter? Simple; the old diesel train of our past and present is not the train propelling us into the future. With electrification, we can add more train-cars per train, and more frequency to the system, allowing us to nearly double the ridership from 62,000 weekday passenger trips to more than 110,000. Replacing diesel with electric makes the system smoother, quieter, 97 percent cleaner and 15 percent faster.

Why did a commuter train in one section of the State become such a priority for our statewide leaders like Dianne Feinstein, Jerry Brown and Nancy Pelosi? Consider the corridor. That small strip of just 45 miles between downtown San Jose and downtown San Francisco is golden for our Golden State:

  • 1.6 million jobs
  • 53 percent of all California Patents filed
  • 20 percent of all sales taxes collected in our state
  • 14 percent of California’s Gross Domestic Product

To be certain, there were numerous other players in the starting line-up that will bring the electrification of Caltrain to the finish line. In the public sector, Senator Kamala Harris and our regional congressional delegation of Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier and Zoe Lofgren were spectacular. Mayors Liccardo and Lee, along with State, County and City officials, all engaged. Caltrain, VTA, MTC, SFMTA and SFCTA rallied riders and passengers to the cause. On the private side, our partners at the Bay Area Council, SAMCEDA and SPUR played pivotal roles. As for the Leadership Group, this has been a 21-year labor of love, always placing our wallets where our words are:

  • Our 1996 Sales Tax Initiative raised nearly $50 million for Caltrain
  • Our 2000 Initiative raised more than $100 million
  • Our 2016 Initiative raised more than $1 billion to modernize the line

Politics has been called the ultimate contact sport. For Caltrain, and the tens of thousands of daily customers it will serve, we’ve proven again that politics is also the ultimate team sport. If we keep this team together, there’s no limiting the future successes we can champion for our region.

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When Voting, Don’t Stop at the Top

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November 2  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Don’t Stop at the Top . . . Much has been written and said about a “crowded ballot” facing California voters this election season. With 17 statewide initiatives, two countywide ballot measures and – depending on the City or Town you call home – more local measures as well.

So here’s my advice to my fellow voters here in Santa Clara County – “don’t stop at the top.” You may be angry and anxious about one or both of your choices for our next president. I understand. But numerous state and local choices deserve your discerning decision-making. Let me name two.

In Silicon Valley, two of our greatest concerns are the flip side of the same coin; too much traffic and a lack of homes our families can afford. That warrants a close look at Measures A and B.

Measure A is an affordable housing bond, with a principal focus on homeless housing for the estimated 7,500 people without shelter on any given night. Currently, the cost of services, shelter and public safety associated with the band-aid approach we have taken to address our homeless crisis is $500 million annually. Measure A, with a “Housing First” model, could provide safe housing and services for as many as 5,000 people currently on the streets and near our creeks.

Measure B is our traffic relief & road repair initiative, carefully crafted over years of effort with thousands of everyday citizens’ actively engaged in 48 public hearings. Built by traffic engineers and transportation directors, Measure B would provide meaningful countywide congestion relief, cost-effective transit options and a significant focus on the crumbling conditions of our local streets and roads. It’s positive impact on our economy, including local employers small and large, has earned the unanimous endorsement of all 13 Chambers of Commerce, from Palo Alto in the north to Gilroy in the south, representing tens of thousands of small and mid-sized businesses. Learn more at YesMeasureB.com

In many ways, this election season’s ugliness at the “top of the ticket” seems more like a “race to the bottom.” But when voting, make your voice heard. Join me; don’t stop at the top.

Traffic Jams

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October 26  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Traffic Jams: they can sour every trip we take in Santa Clara County.

That’s why we support Measure B. Like a jigsaw puzzle, Measure B puts all the pieces together for a sweeter commute:

* First, we finish the job on BART, bringing it to East San Jose, San Jose State, the SAP Center and all the way to Santa Clara University.

* Second, we link BART with an electrified Caltrain, at the SAP Center and across the street from Santa Clara University, for rapid rail around the entire Bay Area.

* Third, we ensure seniors, the disabled, students and working families have the lifeline and core transit service they deserve.

* Fourth, we build bicycle and pedestrian improvements, especially near our schools, including our 10 universities and colleges.

* Fifth, we improve highway interchanges and all 10 County Expressways.

* Finally, one of every five dollars fills potholes in all 15 cities and towns.

Traffic jams have turned our commute sour. Measure B makes them sweet again.

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Traffic Relief we Need, Accountability we Deserve

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October 19  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Okay, truth be told – I hate taxes. I just hate traffic more.

So why am I leading and funding a traffic relief and road repair initiative on the November ballot – known as Measure B?

First, Measure B provides the traffic relief, transit alternatives and road repair funds we need:

  • We finish the job in bringing BART to Silicon Valley, with stations at Alum Rock, next to San Jose State, the SAP Arena and Santa Clara University.
  • We build on the electrification of Caltrain commuter rail service, to add capacity and safety improvements.
  • We fund street maintenance and pothole repairs in all 15 cities and towns.
  • We ease traffic on all 10 County Expressways – like Almaden, Capitol, Lawrence and San Tomas.
  • We fix interchanges on all 8 Highways that tie us up in traffic knots, like 87, 17, 237, 85, 101, 280, 680 and 880.
  • And we don’t leave our senior citizens or those with disabilities stranded at the curb, by ensuring lifeline and core transit service for those without cars or no longer able to use their cars.

Second, Measure B ensures the accountability provisions we deserve:

  • With Annual Independent Audits,
  • A Citizens Watchdog Committee to oversee the funds,
  • And a 2/3 vote requirement at the ballot box, so that every dollar can only be used for the specific traffic improvements in the measure.

Santa Clara County is a great place to live and work, but traffic congestion taxes my patience. With Measure B, we start to unlock the gridlock with guarantees needed to ensure accountability.

Learn for yourself at YesMeasureB.com.

Puzzled by Traffic Congestion

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October 7  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Are you puzzled by the traffic congestion that has crippled our region? Then join us to pass Measure B – for Better Commutes & Better Roads – on the November ballot.

Like a Jigsaw Puzzle, each piece of Measure B is important on its own, but fits together like a Jigsaw Puzzle for countywide congestion relief, transit alternatives and road repairs to fix the crumbling conditions of our local streets & roads.

jigsaw-puzzle-image

First, it finishes the job on bringing BART to downtown San Jose and on to Santa Clara, connecting to Caltrain Commuter Rail service with platform-to-platform transfers.

Second, it builds on the electrification of Caltrain, which begins in 2020, so that we have “rapid rail around the entire Bay Area,” with vital capacity & safety improvements for Caltrain passengers.

Third, it ensures we have lifeline service and core transit service for seniors, people with disabilities, students and people of modest means.

Fourth, we finally add a “Transit-only solution” in the empty “center median” in Highway 85 – long preserved yet never funded until Measure B.

Fifth, we fund bike and pedestrian safety improvements, especially near our schools.

Sixth, we fix 20 key interchanges and auxiliary lanes on Highways 101, 280, 680, 17, 87, 237 and 85.

Seventh, we improve all 10 County expressways, easing congestion on each expressway and taking the pressure off of adjoining neighborhood streets.

Finally, nearly one of every five dollars will improve local streets and fix potholes in all 15 cities and towns.

Measure B is like a Jigsaw Puzzle with each piece vital on its own, yet fits together to provide comprehensive, countywide traffic relief. For more details, visit YesMeasureB.com.

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We Need an Army, Not an Audience

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August 31  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino
Lawrence traffic

Lawrence Expressway

Here’s food for thought . . . In Silicon Valley, we don’t need an audience, we need an army.

On Tuesday, it took me 60 minutes to travel seven miles on Lawrence Expressway.

And I was in the carpool lane. It’s past time that we stopped fuming, and starting fixing the traffic congestion problems that plague our daily commutes.

It makes me more motivated than ever about our three-plus year effort to pass Measure B, for Better Commutes and Better Roads. Designed by traffic engineers and transportation professionals, Measure B will have a Game-Changing impact on key corridors like Lawrence, which will go from a “Level of Service F,” – near gridlock in the a.m. and p.m. commutes – to “Level of Service A” – near free-flow – throughout the day.

Please, learn more at YesMeasureB.com.

But back to our need for an army, not an audience, if Measure B is to be successful on November 8. In Silicon Valley, in our community, we don’t need an “audience” –

>> An audience is interested; but an army is involved
>> An audience sits back; while an army stands up
>> An audience puts others down; while an army lifts others up

Join me. Enlist today. Contact me directly at 408-501-7864, or visit YesMeasureB.com. Let’s get Silicon Valley moving again.

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BART and Caltrain, On-Track and Ready to Roll

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August 17  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . BART and Caltrain, on-track and ready to roll.

This week, Governor Brown’s Secretary of Transportation, Brian Kelley, announced the 14 transportation improvements that are recipients of the highly competitive “Cap-and-Trade” funds.

Two of the top priorities from around the state are $20 million to help complete the planned electrification of Caltrain, and $20 million for Segment 2 of our BART extension to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.

Like peanut butter and chocolate, BART and Caltrain are two great systems that are even better together.

And they will, when voters approve the VTA’s Traffic Relief and Road Repair measure on the November 8 ballot. The second segment of our BART extension will bring the popular line from Berryessa in north San Jose to Alum Rock, downtown San Jose near San Jose State University, the Diridon Station at SAP Center, and on to Santa Clara, immediately across from Santa Clara University.

Both the Diridon Station and the Santa Clara Station will link BART with Caltrain, which will start to be electrified by 2020. Yes, our 60 year dream of Rapid Rail around the Bay is within reach.

The Governor’s decision to invest Cap-and-Trade funds for our BART extension underscores the State’s long-term commitment to Segment two. As Transportation Secretary Kelley wrote when announcing the funds, the state plans for a long-term, multi-year funding commitment to bring BART to downtown San Jose and on to Santa Clara.

BART and Caltrain. Some things simply go better together. And when it comes to easing our crippling commutes, we are one election away from making this dream a reality.

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We Can Whine or Win

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July 25  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . We can whine or we can win.

In can-do Silicon Valley, rather than cry and complain about problems, we have a history of working together to solve them.

This November is a clear case in point. For three-plus years, hundreds of private and public sector leaders have collaborated on a Traffic Relief and Road Repair measure that the Valley Transportation Authority recently voted to place on the November 8 ballot. Their 12-0 unanimous vote underscores the thoughtfulness of their process, the need for meaningful countywide congestion relief, the importance of the improvements called for in the allocation plan, and the broad coalition of support the measure enjoys.

The traffic relief improvements called for in the measure are not only important individually, but work together collectively:

* Complete the BART extension to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
* Greatly increase Caltrain commuter rail capacity, including safety improvements at grade crossings
* Build cost-effective transit alternatives in the Highway 85/West Valley corridor
* Strengthen basic transit service for seniors and the disabled
* Ease traffic on all eight county expressways
* Improve key highway interchanges to alleviate congestion on Highway 101, 280, 880, 17, 85, 237 and 87
* Fix potholes and improve streets in all 15 cities and towns
* Provide bike and pedestrian improvements, especially near schools

Traffic congestion is one of the most challenging problems plaguing our Valley. Whining about it does nothing. Working together to win approval of a countywide Traffic Relief & Road Repair measure this November is how we strengthen Silicon Valley. To get engaged, call me personally at 408-838-4848.

Fight for Flights

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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.

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Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project

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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.

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