A new Wheels bus design

With the 4th of July tomorrow I couldn’t help but to think about the new Wheels bus design approved by the LAVTA Board last month:

The new design was created by our talented LAVTA Marketing Team in collaboration with Gillig and is similar to the elegance and contemporary looks of the Rapid bus design, with the exception of the traditional patriotic Wheels colors.  I think it looks great and does a lot to improve the Wheels image.

Over the next few months we’ll implement the design on more than half the Wheels fleet.  The public can also expect updated bus stop signage and a refresh of the Wheels website with updated colors and logos.  Until then, enjoy the 4th of July holiday and don’t forget to ride Wheels when traveling to downtown Livermore or the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton for the fireworks.

-Michael

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Art Shelter Dedication

The other day I had the chance to attend an art shelter dedication at the bus stop on the corner of Vasco Road and Patterson Pass in Livermore.  It was a wonderful tribute to the Granada High School Art Class students and their instructor Laura Thournir and the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District.  The Mayor, John Marchand, a huge supporter of the arts, attended and led the celebrations.

LAVTA has been sponsoring art shelters in Livermore and Pleasanton for 18 years, starting with the shelter located on Bluebell at Sunflower with it’s lovely sunflowers in full bloom.

The theme for the shelter that was dedicated most recently is titled Hop on the Bus.  The artwork follows the style of artist Keith Haring, who was an American artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture.  Personally, I like the style of the art…I can’t help day dreaming a bit when I’m looking at the work.

LAVTA began the bus shelter art program in 1999 to discourage vandalism.  Through the years these murals have embellished our neighborhoods while providing an opportunity for budding young artists to utilize their creative talents.  In addition, each piece offers customers on Wheels a pleasant experience while waiting for the bus.  Click here for a page on our website that features a few more art mural shelters in the Wheels system.

 

 

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Busy Week For Legislation In Sacramento and Projects at LAVTA

Its been a busy week at LAVTA.  Here’s an update on some of the important projects, with a warm welcome to our new Marketing Specialist, Christy Navarro!

Shared Autonomous Vehicle Project

This past week AB 1444, LAVTA’s bill authored by Assemblywoman Baker was approved by the Appropriations Committee and is next scheduled to be considered by the Assembly Floor sometime next week. Staff has been working with County Connection, our neighboring transit agency, to partner on this high profile project. The goal is to test a shared autonomous vehicle on city streets in Dublin in 2018.

Legislation for New Rail Authority

AB 758, the bill that creates a new rail construction authority to plan and construct a BART/ACE connection in the Tri-Valley passed out of Appropriations on Friday and will be considered by the Assembly Floor next week. The bill has wide support and after going to the Assembly Floor will begin its process of approval in the Senate.


SmartTrips Pleasanton

SmartTrips Pleasanton, the individualized marketing effort along the 10R alignment in the community, is about 80% completed. This week I had the chance to go out with the travel ambassadors and talk to residents in Pleasanton.  It was a great experience.  On Monday, Memorial Day for the nation, the SmartTrips travel ambassadors were out at Amador Valley Community Park talking with residents along the Santa Rita Road corridor, letting kids color and have fun on a Rapid bus.

Ribbon Cutting for Art Shelter on June 1st

A reminder that this coming Thursday at 1pm will be the art mural shelter dedication at the corner of Vasco Road and Patterson Pass in Livermore. The art mural was created by students at Granada High School and attendance is expected to be high.

 

Q’Straint Demo with Board Member Coomber and WAAC Chair Hendrickson-Rivera

Q’Straint representatives visited LAVTA recently to demonstrate the new Q’POD mobility restraint system to LAVTA Board Member Bob Coomber and WAAC Chair Carmen Hendrickson-Rivera.   After a demonstration of how the system works everyone was able to take a ride in the Wheels bus to get a feel for the restraint system in action.

New Marketing Specialist Joins LAVTA

Christy Navarro is the newest employee at LAVTA, joining the team as our marketing specialist. Christy has experience with graphic design and social media and will make a great complement to new Marketing Manager, Tony McCaulay.

 

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Plan Bay Area 2040

Everyone needs a plan.  In the Bay Area the Metropolitan Transportation Commission released a draft of it’s long-range regional transportation plan, known as Plan Bay Area 2040, for public review and comment.  Here are some key comments from a staff report written by Jennifer Yeamans to the LAVTA Board of Directors:

Plan Bay Area 2040 projects the region’s long-term growth in terms of jobs and population and identifies geographic areas sufficient to house that growth.  Once the Bay Area’s housing need is projected, a housing plan is developed for communities and then supportive multi-modal transportation investments are prioritized to ensure the Plan achieves high returns on transportation policies and investments.

The core of the Draft Plan Bay Area’s Investment Strategy is a “Fix It First” policy whereby 90% of the Plan’s investments focus on operating, maintaining, and modernizing the region’s existing transportation system.  Additionally, the Plan’s investment strategy highlights key transportation projects in the Bay Area, such as regional express lanes, BART to Silicon Valley, Caltrain extension to the Transbay Transit Center, etc.

Here at LAVTA we support and applaud MTC and ABAG for including full operating funding for transit operators through FY2039-2040 as part of its robust “Fix It First” funding strategy.  Simply put, there is no way for the region to meet its current and future greenhouse gas reduction goals without fully funding the operational needs of our exisiting transit systems.

Three additional, important comments to consider:

  • MTC should ensure a “level playing field” in the administration of competitive regional programs such as Bay Area Forward for large and small transit operators alike. Many of the small and non–fixed-guideway operators have greater short-term flexibility to innovate and experiment, but often find ourselves at a disadvantage in terms of competing for discretionary funding sources against much larger agencies with far greater staffing resources; this has been increasingly the case for many small operators at the federal and state level. MTC should recognize the potential small operators have in the region to be laboratories of innovation and ensure some regional discretionary program funds for these purposes are accessible to small operators.
  • The Plan’s growth forecasts indicate the Inland/Coastal/Delta subregion (where the Tri-Valley is located) will grow by nearly a quarter in terms of both housing and employment by 2040, which is around half the rate of growth of the Big Three Cities. In terms of household growth specifically, the rate of growth in the Inland/Coastal/ Delta subregion is forecast to be substantially similar to the Bayside subregion. However, the distribution of major public transit investments in the Plan very clearly favors the Big Three Cities and Bayside regions, despite the fact that today, for example, the population of the Tri-Valley subregion is more than half the size of the city of Oakland, and larger than the city of Fremont, but has nowhere near the robust public transit network and connectivity that many the Big Three Cities and Bayside communities enjoy today. The Draft Plan should more fully acknowledge the differences in the present-day public transportation landscape in terms of their capacity to help all parts of the region grow sustainably and help meet the region’s and state’s long-range climate-protection goals.
  • With the understanding that Plan Bay Area 2040 must meaningfully account for jobs-housing balance within the region, it is nevertheless vital to the region’s and state’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to acknowledge the worsening reality of the regional in-commute, especially from the San Joaquin Valley, and the externalities these in-commuters create. Focusing on housing production within the region as a key component of the draft Plan’s Action Plan is a good first start, but as long as households and families desire relatively affordable single-family homes, commuters will continue to seek employment in the Bay Area while choosing to reside outside of the nine-county region. Express Lane improvements on Interstate 580 in Alameda County acknowledge this reality, but for a more sustainable, long-term strategy, this and future Plans should fully acknowledge the importance of inter-regional rail connections. One such connection in the Tri-Valley was identified in the 2007 Regional Rail Plan, which is currently being explored by the Altamont Regional Rail Working Group, of which LAVTA is a member. This project is highlighted on page 18 of the Draft Investment Strategy Report as the “BART to Livermore/ACE Project,” and LAVTA and its inter-regional partners look forward to helping advance this project and its funding needs in future regional planning and programming efforts, as LAVTA anticipates playing a principal role in providing local transit connections to this vital inter-regional transit linkage.

Looking for more information on Plan Bay Area 2040, including how you can submit your comments by the June 1st deadline?  Visit http://2040.planbayarea.org/

-Michael

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