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Advanced Transit Circulator Around BART Station: First Loop

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PRT Project Poster

SNA is working toward the goal of a PRT feeder from their neighborhood at the North end of Milpitas to the BART/LRT/bus Transit Center at the South end of town 3.5 miles away. PRT is a new technology, so it makes sense to limit our risk by starting small with a minimal system of guideway and cabs to shuttle between two stations. Such a demonstration/pilot project, costing about the same as a standard steel-and-concrete pedestrian bridge, will allow us to verify PRT technology before expanding the system to service other locations.

After the pilot project proves successful, then we could create our first area-wide loop. The most obvious location to include in that first loop is the new Milpitas BART station scheduled to open in 2017. A one-loop circulator could connect nearby areas with the BART/LRT/bus station. Major roadways, railroad tracks and a creek separate BART from high-density housing, the Great Mall, The Pines neighborhood, and a new elementary school and public park being built to serve the area. This is precisely the kind of area that Transit consultants at Kimley-Horne recommend as an application that "Small Car PRT is Typically Good At": "Pedestrian environments which are separated by physical barriers or by onerous traffic arterial streets" (page 12 at Barriers to Entry).

BART Circulator - stations
Below is a possible distribution of stations for the First Loop of a city-wide system.

BART Circulator - routing
Below is a possible routing between the 9 stations of a First Loop serving the BART/LRT/bus transit hub.

This example loop is about 17,000 feet, or 3.2 miles long. Using an industry-accepted estimate of $15M/mile, such a loop would cost about $48M. Under existing transportation subsidies, the City would only need to pay $6M (12 percent) of the $48M total. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating traffic congestion, and improving public health, we will see an increase in property values and City revenue. Can you think of another public works investment that would return more value to residents and more revenue to city coffers?

To put that $48M in perspective, note that the City plans to invest $17M to extend Milpitas Boulevard to the BART station. That is part of current plans to spend $230M for infrastructure improvements in the Transit Area. Those improvements are needed to accommodate an additional 7,000 people expected to be living there within 10 years. Or look at the BART parking subsidy. BART parking lots and structures displace housing - an estimated 916 dwelling units. So, not only do we lose desperately-needed housing, we lose $30M in TASP fees that would go to City coffers. And we lose associated impact fees (which help the schools), annual property taxes (helps many government agencies), and CFD fees (which help the people living in the area). BART's latest design of the parking structure increased parking spaces by reducing retail space (and the associated sales tax revenue) from 25,000 sqr. feet down to only 4,000.

One cost factor that remains is where does the money come from to pay the anticipated annual O&M costs of $1.9M ($48M x 4%) for the first-loop circulator? As a transit system, we could expect that VTA would subsidize it at the same level (82%) as other transit systems (bus and light rail). If so, whatever entity operates the system (VTA, Miliptas, PPP, etc.) could expect $1,558,000/yr ($1.9M X 82%) O&M from VTA. The remaining $342,000/yr could come from the farebox by charging a $1 fare on just 11.4% of the expected 12,000 daily BART riders (12,000 passengers/day X 250 workdays/year X 11.4% X $1 = $342,000).

Two concerns often heard are visual intrusion and potential for vandalism. Both concerns have been addressed in conventional transit systems. For example, one rarely hears complaints about the visual intrusion of the massive LRT line running over Main Street. Likewise, although vandalism is clearly a problem with VTA vehicles and bus stops, repair costs are a small part of overall O&M costs.

A successful first loop could be followed by a second loop that connects BART to City Hall, the Library and Health Center. Ultimately, we might add further loops to create a city-wide, networked service which connects most residential areas with most popular destinations. Likewise, the San Jose has the opportunity to create a 100-station network that serves many square miles between the Berryessa BART station, Caltrain, and the airport.

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

If you live or work in Milpitas, please fill-out this on-line survey.
Or, print this form [Open-Source (ODT), Microsoft (DOC), Adobe (PDF)], fill it in, and mail (or scan and e-mail) to the address at the bottom of the form.

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.
2) Copies of any newsletters or other publications of the organization, plus requested copies of any other documents of the organization.
3) The right to vote at all general meetings and the right to vote on any sub-committees that they join.
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