Caltrain

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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I am now “High” on High-Speed Rail

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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.

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Unlock the Gridlock

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July 1  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . taxpayers are ready for traffic relief.

In our recent Silicon Valley Leadership Group annual poll, our fellow voters and taxpayers made one point clear: We are tired of traffic gridlock, and are willing to take steps to fix it.

When we asked voters if they would once again invest local dollars for local transportation improvements with local accountability, the results were resounding. A specific list of improvements, which could be funded by a half-cent sales tax increase, garnered support from 68 percent, with only 27 percent against and 5 percent undecided.

The specific improvements polled are as follows:

  • Finish the BART extension to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara – 86 percent support
  • Repair streets, fix potholes in all 15 cities and towns – 88 percent support
  • Electrify, modernize Caltrain Commuter Rail Service from Gilroy to Palo Alto – 73 percent support
  • Relieve traffic on all eight county expressways – 80 percent support
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, especially near schools – 84 percent support
  • Improve transit service for seniors, the poor and disabled – 85 percent support

Befitting the visionary spirit of Silicon Valley, our voters and taxpayers are once again willing to place their money where their mouths are – for specific transportation improvements that will strengthen our economy, keep and create jobs and improve our quality of life.

When it comes to traffic, we may have the keys to unlock the gridlock.

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What have you done for me lately?

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January 7  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “What have you done for me lately?”

The calendar has flipped from 2014 to 2015. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we closed out 2014 with several solid successes:

  • BART funding from the California Transportation Commission, which I Chair, was completed, for a total of $760 million. The extension is under-budget and a year ahead of schedule.
  • Our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, sponsored by Applied Materials, brought together 26,000 neighbors to celebrate Thanksgiving morning together – generating more than $900,000 to help needy local families.
  • The state water bond, Proposition 1, passed in November with the help of the Leadership Group, and incredible leadership by Governor Brown.

But life is about looking forward, not back.

This year, our goals are equally ambitious, and will be presented in a comprehensive way in the days ahead. But hear is a glimpse of what’s to come:

  • Housing and homelessness – the Leadership Group will step up its historic role.
  • Traffic relief – BART and Caltrain, along with other road improvements, are key.
  • Immigration, cyber, tax and patent reform – all federal priorities that must be tackled head-on.

Silicon Valley is an ambitious place, and we have many ambitious goals on our plate. Get on-board and join us. We have work to do.

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“Market Share” for Caltrain Service

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October 30  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought: Market share for Caltrain

“Market Share” is a typical Silicon Valley term, but not always applied to our transportation choices.

Our new Caltrain Commuter Coalition – a partnership between the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Council, SPUR and SAMCEDA, along with cutting-edge companies such as LinkedIn, Google and HP – believe that Caltrain Commuter Rail Service should gain “market share” in the Highway 101 corridor.

Ridership numbers on the 150-year-old system are already impressive: 61,000 weekday passenger trips. Yet the Leadership Group believes we can double those numbers – from 61,000 daily trips to more than 120,000 daily trips – in the next decade.

Then, Caltrain would gain true “market share” in the Highway 101 corridor. This would benefit commuters who currently are stuck in their cars and provide more room for thousands of commuters who would prefer riding in the comfort of Caltrain’s cars.

Our Caltrain Commuter Coalition will be advocating for the funds needed to fully electrify the line, lengthen the stations to accommodate more cars per train, heighten the platforms for quicker boarding, repair bridges to enhance safety and provide cost-effective grade separations for safer and quicker service.

More riders, cleaner air, stronger economy, better quality of life. Earning “market share” for Caltrain during the next decade is an idea whose time has come. Join us. Get on board.

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Timing is Everything

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June 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Timing is everything; especially in elections.

Let’s face it; Silicon Valley traffic is terrible, and the conditions of our roads in most of our cities are even worse.

We need to fix our road and transit networks, and we need to do it now.

Yet we live in a democracy, and a democracy that requires a two-thirds vote for local tax increases.

As private citizens, the members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have led four successful transportation sales tax campaigns in the past 30 years, generating more than $12 billion dollars in vital transportation improvements.

We are willing to help lead such an effort again – but this is where timing comes in. Based on the dismal voter turnout in the June 3 primary election, bringing out a record low number of voters, we now expect a very low turnout this November. Low turnouts do not bode well for transportation funding measures, so the Leadership Group Board has made the painful decision to wait – made more painful by the fact that our employees and families are waiting in traffic jams that need to be addressed. Our original goal was a potential measure in November of 2016, the next presidential election. That is once again our goal.

If you are as frustrated with traffic as we are – join us. Contact me at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Together, we have led measures that built Highway 85, improved Highways 237 and 101, are building the BART extension and funded key improvements for Caltrain Commuter Rail. We have a record of collective success, but much more work to do. Together, in 2016, we can do it.

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Traffic Relief

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April 25  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . If you don’t ask, you don’t know.

Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group commissions a professional survey of 600 likely Silicon Valley voters. As a policy organization consisting of nearly 400 CEOs and senior officers, it is important for us to understand if the concerns expressed in board rooms are similar to the concerns conveyed in our employee’s living rooms.

Our most recent survey was completed on April 13. We asked voters for their views on housing and homelessness, traffic and transportation, education and the economy, taxes and fees. The responses underscored, in this visionary Valley, that voters still want to invest in making our communities better. This was clearly conveyed in the questions about transportation.

  • When voters were asked if they would once again tax themselves for specific transportation improvements:
  • More than 2/3 said YES for Phase II of the BART extension, from Berryessa to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.
  • More than 2/3 said YES for Caltrain commuter rail improvements from Gilroy to Palo Alto.
  • More than 2/3 said YES for street maintenance and pothole repairs in all 15 cities and towns.
  • More than 2/3 said YES to improve all eight county expressways: Almaden, Capitol, Central, Foothill, Lawrence, Montague, Oregon, San Tomas.
  • More than 2/3 said YES to bike and pedestrian improvements, especially near schools.
  • And more than 2/3 said YES to transit services for seniors and the disabled.

Our question – which will have to be thoughtfully considered by all stakeholders – is simple: Is the timing right to invest again?

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