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$4.7B for 4 BART stations
$1.5B for 100 ATN stations?

Connecting Berryessa BART Station with HSR, Caltrain, and Airport

Current plans for a $4700M ($4.7B) extension of BART

BART Extension Phase 2 from the Berryessa BART station to Diridon and Santa Clara Caltrain train stations - the BART Burrow - is one of many projects proposed to be funded by a sales tax increase. Why not vote for VTA's 2016 sales tax measure? Here are three reasons.

  • First, a sales tax falls most heavily on the poor. This would be the 5th time that VTA has burdened the poor to build transportation projects. Instead, let's tax harmful products and carbon emissions.
  • 1 in 4 dollars collected will go to the BART Burrow – a cost and capacity boondoggle. The estimated cost of $4700M is far more than necessary to accomplish our shared goal of connecting BART and Caltrain stations. PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) technology could deliver the same (or better) service for under $200M (12 miles X $15M/mile). Furthermore, the BART Burrow is way over-built. Commuter rail like BART can handle up to 60,000 people per hour in just one direction. VTA estimates, however, that 55,000 people per day will use both directions of the BART Burrow. Appropriately scaled PRT could satisfy demand along the BART Burrow route.
  • Perhaps the worst thing about a boondoggle is the opportunity costs – that is, all the transportation projects that could be completed with that money. For example, with just 1% of the cost of the BART Burrow, we could build a much-needed PRT loop to serve the Milpitas BART station. At a time when global warming threatens the human species, we can't afford to wait – or to waste.

PRT Corridor Alternative

Rather than spend $4700M for a 4-station BART extension and service yard, we could spend about $200M for a corridor transit system that uses Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) technology. At $15M/mile – which includes elevated guideway, off-line stations, electric-powered cabs, and computer control – we could build a PRT corridor system that approximately follows the proposed BART extension. However, instead of underground, it would be above ground where it costs less to build and provides riders with a better view. Also, instead of just 4 stations, the $15M/mile cost includes a station for each mile, or 12 stations for the round trip. Such a PRT corridor would satisfy the expected demand. It would also be operational a decade earlier, and provide demand-driven (rather than scheduled) service that is quick, safe, and available 24/7.

Network Alternative

Rather than spend $4700M for a 4-station BART extension and service yard, we could spend about one-third that - $1500M - for an Automated Transit Network (ATN) using PRT technology. At $15M/mile, we could build a 100-station ATN that serves the public far better and provides quick, nonstop service between all stations. As with any networked system like the Internet and e-mail, the value/utility rises geometrically as the number of nodes (stations) rises linearly. So, a 100-station network is far more than just 25 times more useful than a 4-station system.

In 2001, during the public comment period on the BART extension, two alternatives to the BART Extension were proposed - a corridor and a network option. An Alternative Transit Network (ATN) option to the BART Burrow outlined a BART extension from the Warm Springs station that ended in Milpitas (rather then Berryessa). From there, 91 miles of ATN guideway with 117 stations spread out to cover the Golden Triangle and downtown San Jose. Today, we can plan a network that better matches our current needs. Sketches of the physical layout are provided below: (routes, stations, and both). The design philosophy underlying this proposal contains the following elements:

1. There must be rapid and convenient travel from the BART station to downtown San Jose, the Diridon station, and the San Jose airport. At least four PRT stations with direct access to the BART platform would be constructed. Several routes to each destination would be available. Distance from the Milpitas BART station to the downtown area and Diridon station would be from six to eight miles; and five to six miles to the airport. With nonstop travel between stations and a line speed of 30 MPH, travel times would average about fourteen and eleven minutes, respectively. A BART connection with three or four intermediate stations would probably be not much faster to downtown, and would certainly take more time to reach the airport.

2. The system must provide access to the Silicon Valley business community and the residential areas. With 117 stations in both the commercial and residential regions, extensive coverage is well provided. In addition, there are multiple access points to the Light Rail and Caltrain systems. With the nonstop, multiple vehicle PRT capability, no two stations will be more than 30 minutes apart, day or night.

3. Convenient access must be provided from east San Jose to downtown. Seven PRT lines penetrate east of Capitol Avenue in both San Jose and Milpitas, and connect directly to Downtown San Jose. This provides 10- to 20-minute access from anywhere in the area. The system as presently conceived utilizes one-way lines, but any resulting increases in travel times would be only a few minutes. Serving well the east San Jose area would address issues of demand, need, and social equity.

4. The system must be expandable. The BART line can of course be extended at any time. The PRT grid can be expanded indefinitely.

Route Layout

Station Layout

Complete Layout


I would like to also see PRT as an alternative to parking garage construction, in the ongoing downtown study. PRT will boost ridership and negate the need for car parking. Valley Fair to downtown is a natural. Spartan Stadium to downtown also.

Subj: PRT in Milpitas (was: BART-to-SJ MIS)
Date: 6/19/01 12:59:47 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: Ian Kluft

>Because PRT is so modular and cheap, we can wade into it slowly. I say put
>up $50 to develop the technology. Apply it in a simple loop and two station
>configuration, like a connector between Yosemite and Curtis over the railroad
>tracks. Then start expanding northward toward the Warm springs station or,
>if necessary, all the way to the Fremont station. If the system still looks
>robust, expand south from Milpitas.

Subj: Re: PRT in Milpitas (was: BART-to-SJ MIS)
Date: 6/20/01 11:31:19 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: Ian Kluft

I think the fiberoptics idea would be most useful if PRT is forced to be built as a private venture. I think there's a chance that's how it would have to be done, considering the way I saw VTA ignore you at the BART-SJ MIS meeting.

But there are examples of local governments using or neglecting fiber services. VTA already has significant fiberoptic bandwidth along its LRT lines. Most railroads do, since they need some bandwidth for rail signaling. For example, that's how the Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network overbuilt its network with fiber and became Sprint. (Bet you didn't know that. :-) But VTA simply leases its spare bandwidth to AT&T, possibly throwing some potential revenue down the drain. However, the City of Palo Alto offers fiberoptic services as a public utility. http://www.cpau.com/fiberservices/

Any city which wants to follow Palo Alto's lead might have an opportunity to do so on PRT aerial structures under this idea. Also, large deployments of cable TV or competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) such as RCN might be interested in any way to blanket neighborhoods with fiber while reducing the amount of street/yard trenching required. Wireless network and cell site providers could run fiber to access points on or near the PRT towers. (That depends on the weight of the equipment and the engineering allowances of the towers. First priority has to be the safety of transit passengers.)

The idea still needs work to determine how telecom and datacom providers would be interested in either sharing costs of construction, or just setting prices so the construction cost can be recouped. (BTW, construction costs are never recouped with current transit modes.) The total cost of PRT per mile is more than urban fiber trenching alone because PRT puts more on the towers. But designing in capacity for multiple fiber runs would allow sharing it with more than one provider, each at less than the cost of trenching. Now is the time to figure that out while we're in a downturn in telecom build-outs. Otherwise there might not be time to make plans once the demand cycle turns upward again.

Ian Kluft KO6YQ PP-ASEL sbay.org coordinator
"Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous
than deliberately accepted risks." -- Wilbur Wright, 1901

Subj: Re: BART/PRT Alternative
Date: 6/23/01 12:56:40 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: Akos Szoboszlay

I think it's a great idea! I think MTS should support it as the preferred build.

If and when Great Mall to downtown SJ patronage becomes so great that it warrants heavy rail transit, then build it. But that won't happen for a long time. Of course, most people would prefer PRT, unless the BART line would be a lot higher speed to downtown. But that won't happen with all the stations, the WP detour, and the right angle turning at 24the St. & Alum Rock that they propose for the BART line. Only a non-stop, direct (no WP detour) line to downtown can effectively compete with PRT.

So, we should support the proposal, and add that in the future a non-stop, direct heavy-rail BART to downtown can be built when and if patronage and decrease in travel time (compared with PRT) makes it worthwile.


You Can Help
Click to see PRT along Main Street passing under LRT

As the next step toward a PRT shuttle project, SNA is seeking to kick-start the project by financing the City's portion of the $50,000 Environmental Impact Report (EIR). We only need $6,000 (12%) due to progressive transportation funding rules. After gathering funding, SNA will work with the City to secure the remaining funding and generate an EIR. Engineering and construction could follow the EIR.

Funding is expected from contributions (individual, business, and cities), grants from foundations, and maybe from U.S. transportation agencies. SNA will act as escrow agent until the EIR is started. Questions can be answered by SNA Secretary, Rob Means (408-262-8975, SNA@electric-bikes.com). Spread the word with this flyer, and make contributions (minimum $20) payable to:

Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association (or SNA), 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913
(Please indicate whether you want to remain anonymous or have your name/organization listed online.)

Become a member!

Annual dues are only $20/year. To use PayPal, click the logo below and send your contribution to contribute@SunnyhillsNeighborhood.org

or print our membership form and mail a check to SNA, 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913

Pursuant to Article 12, section 1 of the corporation's Bylaws, rights of members shall include:
1) Notice of all regular, special, and annual meetings, plus notice of any committee meetings in which they have expressed interest.
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4) The right to offer motions germane to the group and have those motions given a fair hearing before the assembled membership.

Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association, 1421 Yellowstone Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035-6913, 408-262-0420, info@SunnyhillsNeighborhood.org