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/
This week the Travel Options Ambassadors for SmartTrips Pleasanton have been in training. What’s SmartTrips Pleasanton? It’s a project along Santa Rita Road and Owens Drive in Pleasanton where residents will have a chance to chat with the Travel Options Ambassadors about walking, biking and the Rapid bus system in the area. It all happens in a few steps.
The first step is a door hanger that announces the coming arrival of the Travel Options Ambassadors. It’s a great way of saying we will be in your area soon and would love to stop by. It also gives those who are not interested an opportunity to touch base.
The second step is a quick visit by the Travel Options Ambassadors who have checklist so they can return at the convenience of the resident with travel information that is of interest to the resident (such as I want to learn more about biking in the area or about the Rapid buses).
The final step is the actual visit with materials ordered by the resident. The materials might include custom, easy to use maps, specially made brochures, a fun gift, and other items. Most importantly, the resident can ask a Travel Options Ambassador to help them learn more. For example, if a resident travels daily to BART for work and wants to learn about the Rapid bus system, a Travel Options Ambassador can give the resident a Clipper Card, help them understand how the Rapid works, and can even take that first ride or two with the residents to show them how easy and convenient it is to ride.
SmartTrips Pleasanton is funded by a grant from the Metropolitan Planning Commission. It’s a very friendly, easy way to understand the wide variety of travel options that can be fun, healthy, possibly save you time and money, and are environmentally friendly!
Recently elected Livermore City Council Member Bob Coomber has been appointed to serve on the LAVTA Board. In addition to making a difference in the community, Bob spends more time than most of us in the outdoors and he knows the best hiking trails in the Bay Area and beyond. Click here to watch a great piece by NBC Bay Area on our newest Board Member!
Last week Tony McCaulay joined the LAVTA team as Marketing Manager. Tony spent the bulk of his career as a marketing professional for Denver RTD and is excited to market the new Wheels bus system redesign, which includes the introduction of the 580X express service from downtown Livermore, the new Rapid service on Route 10R, the newly realigned 30R to Las Positas College, Go Dublin and the coming SmartTrips Pleasanton program.
Don’t forget about Go Dublin for your travel needs in Dublin this weekend at the St Patrick’s Day Parade and festivities. For Dublin residents that don’t live on or near Dublin Blvd it could be the easiest way to get around town over the weekend, with Wheels paying half the fare, up to $5 for rides that begin and end in Dublin. For more information click here.
What’s in the near future for Wheels? In April the transit agency kicks off SmartTrips Pleasanton to inform residents along Santa Rita Road about their transportation options, including biking, walking and the Rapid. The personal conversations will be lead by our Travel Ambassadors who reach out to residents along the corridor to share with them their expertise, helpful information, tools and swag. It’s a great way to celebrate the many transportation options along this important corridor!
Finally, have you “liked” us on Facebook? The Wheels Facebook page not only has the latest information on the Wheels bus system, but it frequently has great information on destinations and events in the Tri-Valley, as well as promotional offers and contests.
It’s been a busy week, but the highlight is certainly activating the GoDublin promotion.
In brief, GoDublin is simply a discount provided by LAVTA for usage on Uber, Lyft and DeSoto Cab when using their ride sharing mode (Uber Pool, Lyft Line or DeSoto Share). How much is the discount? 50 of the cost of the ride, up to $5. Whats the promotion code to receive the discount? GODUBLIN. Where is the discount
valid? Any ride that begins and ends within the city limits of Dublin, including the two BART stations and Wheels Transit Center.
I’ve been asked why LAVTA would partner with transportation network companies (TNCs)? LAVTA’s first thoughts on a potential partnership stemmed from a report where the American Public Transit Association in their publication Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit took a look at TNCs and concluded that:
- The more people use shared modes, the more likely they are to use public transit
- Shared modes complement public transit
- Shared modes will continue to grow in significance and public entities should engage with them to ensure that benefits are widely and equitably shared.
With that said, public transit in most areas of Dublin doesn’t perform very efficiently. A recent Wheels route that was eliminated in Dublin was carrying on average 5 passengers an hour at a public subsidy per ride of more than $15. LAVTA felt that the area where this route served, and other areas similar to it in Dublin would be a great place to feature a discount promotion with TNCs.
Over the next 6 months LAVTA will monitor the usage of the GoDublin! promotion, observing and sharing information on whether the promotion increased ridership on the BART system and/or LAVTA Wheels system. The information will be helpful to not only LAVTA, but many other transit systems considering similar promotions and partnerships. Additionally, LAVTA and the City of Dublin can monitor how the partnership reduces congestion and parking issues.
Time will tell on whether the GoDublin! promotion is a success. One thing for sure is that it’s now live and you can get more information at www.wheelsbus.com/godublin.