Showing posts with label bay area transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bay area transportation. Show all posts

Thursday, May 9, 2024

San Jose connection improvements to the Central Coast

Decades in the making, rail options are expanding between Monterrey County to San Jose. This includes two new stations in Monterrey County. $1M has been secured in the last bipartisan rail bill. That is million with a M and not a B like many of the other projects that have been discussed here. Seems like low-hanging fruit to expand service.

The two new stations will be in Pajaro close to Watsonville and another in downtown King City. Both will have the potential of taking large numbers of cars off of 101 during peak commute times being used by supercommuters driving an hour or more.

It's nice to some new rail projects moving forward quickly. The Pajaro station will begin construction in early 2027 while King City station will start in 2026.

Source: KSBW8

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Estimated BART costs go up again

If you thought $12.2 billion was astronomical for a 6-mile, 4-station extension... I don't have good news. The Federal Transit Administration now thinks the project will cost $12.8 billion and the timeline will be extended to 2037. Reasons behind the cost increase are primarily the volatility of labor and supply costs.

13 years is a long time. We might be living in a post-AGI word (artificial general intelligence) where costs for design and construction could be significantly lower than expected or perhaps new transit options will arise that were not feasible in the past. While I have voted for the BART extension every single time, the consistent increase of cost estimates and timeline adjustments is concerning.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Tunneling in San Jose could be much cheaper in the near future

Most people don't see disruptive technology coming. It's often met with a lot of skepticism. There are plenty of famous quotes about computers or the internet. In 1943 The president of IBM said "I think there is a world market for about five computers." In 1995 Newsweek published an article that said, “The internet is just a fad.” However, even today in markets that have been stagnant for decades or even a century we're seeing disruption.

People laughed when Elon wanted to build electric cars. Tesla is now worth more every other car company combined. They laughed again when he wanted to start a rocket company. Today there are 7,702 active satellites in space--5,000 of them belong to SpaceX. By the end of next year, SpaceX will have launched more satellites than every government entity around the world combined over the past 66 years. So now... of course, there had to be much skepticism in the San Jose development community about the Boring Company. Tunnels have been built almost the same way for 100 years, what could the company possibly do differently?

Apparently a lot. The Boring Company already has a functioning tunnel network in Las Vegas with 4 active stations and capacity for 5,000 people/hour. It took one year to build. That will expand to 69 stations and capacity for over 100,000 people/hour over the next few years (not decades). They have managed to get to a cost of $10 million/mile for 14-ft wide tunnels with 2nd generation tunneling machines using EV motors and batteries. Now it looks like they might be able to triple tunnel construction speed with hexagonal wall tiles.

The big benefit is that all the pieces are exactly the same, cutting costs significantly. Fewer segments are required per mile and it enables continuous mining. There are challenges and disadvantages as well, especially around water, but if they can push through them they will very likely disrupt tunneling. It gets a bit nerdy, but there is a 15min video in the source link below that goes into exactly how this new process would work versus existing methods.

What this means for us, is perhaps there will be a future where we can bring VTA Light Rail underground or perhaps offer Personal Rapid Transit (autonomous pods) or other forms of transportation at a lower cost to San Joseans. After seeing BART costs swell to $2 billion per mile for the Downtown San Jose extension, there has to be a better solution long-term for other projects.

Full disclosure that San Jose did reach out to The Boring Company as an option to connect San Jose International Airport with Diridon in Downtown San Jose. They never responded to a RFI and things fell through. 

That doesn't mean there couldn't be other opportunities in the future to work together. A fun fact is that the original Tesla factory was supposed to be in North San Jose/Alviso. However, an opportunity to take over NUMMI presented itself in 2010 and the rest is history. Hopefully the door is still open for The Boring Company and San Jose to work together in some capacity.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Robot shuttles coming to San Jose, SJC and beyond

Autonomous transportation is a lot closer than most people think. It's coming in two forms: multi-purpose where autonomous cars are sharing the road with non-autonomous vehicles (Waymo, Cruise, Tesla FSD) and via dedicated pathways (Las Vegas Loop, autonomous trains/pods). 

San Jose has been struggling with how to connect SJC to Downtown San Jose's Diridon transit center just three miles away, which is destined to become the Grand Central of the West Coast. Plans have been brewing for more than 20 years, and tax dollars have already been collected. Finally, a solution has been approved using a local startup specializing in AVs (Autonomous Vehicles) called Glydways.

These autonomous pods can go up to 31 miles per hour, so they would take about 8 minutes to go from Downtown San Jose to SJC via a dedicated and potentially grade-separated path. Today the ride takes about 30 minutes on local buses. The vehicles themselves carry up to four passengers plus their luggage and are wheelchair accessible. 

The initial route would go between Diridon and Terminal B, with plans to potentially include Terminal A, nearby parking, and other future destinations in Midtown/Uptown San Jose like Valley Fair. Phase 1 would have 200 autonomous pods.

This would be a public/private partnership with the city taking on some costs and an investment group (Plenary) taking another portion. The investors would recoup their investment by charging a fee on each ride. 

The model sounds very similar to the Las Vegas Loop, which will actually be almost entirely funded privately except for a fare-less section at the Las Vegas Convention Center. That project will eventually have over 80 stations serviced by autonomous pods larger in size than what Gyldways is planning. Unfortunately, the Boring Company never responded to San Jose's RFI.

Now for the real bad news. The Glydways project is not expected to get underway until 2028 and could take years to complete--a timeline that may render the whole system obsolete by the time it arrives given how quickly transportation solutions are changing. 

We are already pouring billions into systems that are decades old (Light Rail and BART) so it's critical that this next step is something that will be scalable and move the needle on San Jose transportation for the decades to come. Hopefully there is some way to get this project going much sooner and with flexibility to incorporate innovation as the project is in motion.


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Downtown San Jose BART - SJDA Public Meeting on June 10th

If you would like to find out more about the BART subway system that will run from Berryessa to Downtown San Jose, the SJDA is hosting a public meeting at the Tabard Theater this Friday at 8:15am. 

Topics include the tunneling methods, timeline, partnerships, construction mitigation, the designs of the two Downtown Stations, transit-oriented development, and the process for community engagement.

You can watch online or attend in person (registration and proof of vaccination needed) over here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Transportation Innovation

San Jose Spotlight has a great article discussing how we can solve for our future transportation issues. Eventually traffic will return, in fact this past week I did hit a few spots on 101 that reminded me of the good old pre-covid days. We have BART now, which is fantastic, but going forward we should be looking at faster and cheaper solutions.

In fact, there is a grade separated, point-to-point solution that exists today. The Boring Company Loop. Tunnels can be built at $10 million per mile versus $1 billion per mile for a traditional subway, and autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles can transport you from a station to any other station in the network at up to 150 miles per hour. It sounds too good to be true, but so did electric cars that are affordable and fun to drive and reusable rockets that can land themselves. Also, the Boring Company already has two projects in the works. There is a functional test track in LA that goes from SpaceX headquarters to a residential backyard (no joke) and a Loop in Las Vegas that will connect the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Strip, and the airport.

It's a killer suggestion that would help bring our transportation into the future (it is 2020 after all) while improving safety, convenience, and cost-per-mile. Check out Norman Kline's article over here.

Source: San Jose Spotlight

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Berryessa BART Station

After many years of effort, BART trains are finally flowing in and out of San Jose! Gillynova from the San Jose Development Forum has captured some nice drone video shots of the new station. Check out the short video below for a sneak peak of Berryessa Station.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

BART is finally coming to San Jose!

June 13th. That's the date when BART will officially open in both San Jose (Berryessa) and Milpitas! It took 14 years since we first voted for the extension, but it is finally happening.

The first train will leave the station at 7:56am from San Jose, stop at Milpitas at 7:59am, and then head to Richmond in the North Bay.

The next phase of the BART extension will be a subway that will add three more stations in the Downtown San Jose area and one in Santa Clara. Currently that is slated for completion in 2028.

Source: SVBJ

Monday, April 6, 2020

BART Phase 2 Updates

A video was released a few weeks ago that provides an excellent visualization of how BART Phase 2 will extend from San Jose's Berryessa Station to Little Portugal, Downtown San Jose, Diridon, and finally Santa Clara. I was surprised at how detailed the 3D renders were throughout the entire video.

I was also shocked to see how deep the stations actually were in San Jose. The Downtown and Diridon stations will both have high speed elevators to help get passengers in and out of the stations as quickly as possible.

Source: aphelion2100 from the San Jose Development Forum

Monday, December 2, 2019

Latest concept plans for Diridon Station

In order to mitigate the traffic nightmare in the Bay Area, we have to locate jobs and homes close to transit. There is no better transit location in the South Bay than Diridon Station. Millions of square feet of office space, residential units, retail, and hotels are destined to be built near or next to the station. Needless to say, there is a lot of pressure to make the station live up to the attention it is getting. The centerpiece of Downtown San Jose's next phase of urbanization needs to be world class.

Below are some of the latest drawings from Dutch planning firms that are working on the next big redesign of the station. These need to incorporate BART and potentially High Speed Rail, as well as easier access from every direction.

Part of the concept is elevating the tracks for all lines except for Light Rail and BART, which will both meet the station underground. There will also be two main concourses beneath the rail lines with multiple entrances on both Santa Clara Street and San Fernando Street.

The drawings are quite impressive compared to the current layout of the station. I'm optimistic the final product will do the Capital of Silicon Valley justice.

Source: SVBJ

Monday, August 12, 2019

Downtown BART subway alterations

After the huge debate between whether to use a double or single bore subway systems for BART's expansion to Downtown San Jose, it appears there is still some controversy with the design. It was decided that the expansion would use a single bore, which would make it the first system of it's kind in the United States. The key benefit of the design is that we would not have to dig up all of Santa Clara Street and disrupt businesses and residents for years. It would actually be less expensive to build. The downside is that this segment of the BART system would be completely different than the rest of the network, and that would require extensive retraining of staff.

Now it appears that there is a compromise solution, and that is to increase the size of the tunnel from 45 feet to a massive 55 feet. By volume, that is about a 50% increase in size. This would allow the trains to run side by side like the rest of the network, but would increase cost and complexity.

It is actually an interesting proposal for me because the extra space above and below the trains could perhaps be utilized for another mode of transportation. It looks large enough for electric buses or even Light Rail. Perhaps, we could see a next generation Loop or Hyperloop system utilize those spaces. While it is clear San Jose needs to be fully connect to BART, we should also think about how we can leverage this project to support the future generation of mobility.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

VTA calling for innovative transit ideas to connect SJC

The VTA as well as the cities of San Jose, Santa Clara, and Cupertino are looking for ideas on how to quickly move people between SJC and various parts of Silicon Valley. They want these ideas by September 30th.

Specifically, this consortium is looking for grade-separated mass transit at a significantly lower cost than traditional projects in two segments. The first is integrating SJC and Diridon such that they are viewed as a single facility--which would be amazing! I remember being completely shocked when visiting Hong Kong and realizing there was a special Airport train line where you can check your suitcases at the train station, hop on the train, and walk straight to security. Something that well integrated might not be part of the plan, but there are many airports in the US with people movers between terminals. How cool would it be if Diridon felt like it was just a quick terminal transfer away from the airport?

The second route would link the airport to three urban villages along Steven's Creek (I'm sure Santana Row is one of them), Santa Clara, Cupertino, and DeAnza College. This is a high-traffic route and extending BART or Light Rail down this way would cost billions of dollars.

It sounds like this RFI (request for ideas) is a way to legally satisfy the common government requirement of getting multiple bidders for each project. There is literally only one company right now that might be able to pull off something like this at a low cost, and it is The Boring Company. They are already designing an underground loop for the new Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion at a cost of about $10 million a mile. For less than the cost of the two-stop Eastridge light rail extension, we could connect SJC, Downtown San Jose, Santana Row, Santa Clara, and Cupertino with a fast and direct point-to-point transit system.

This could be the beginning of a whole new era in transportation that blends public and personal transportation together. San Jose should be leading the charge, innovation is our middle name!

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Lyft Scooters have arrived in San Jose

Scooters have become a popular "last mile" or micromobility transportation option for helping get people from public transit to their final destination or just for cruising around Downtown San Jose. Last week, Lyft tossed their hat in the ring to compete with Lime and Byrd. Here are the main points you should know about the program:

  • San Jose is the first Bay Area city where Lyft is offering scooters
  • Scooters cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents for each minute you ride
  • With launch comes the unveiling of our Community Pass, allowing low-income San Jose residents  to ride for just $5/month.
  • Lyft’s scooters are part of the existing Lyft app that San Jose residents already know and love, and can be rented with just a few taps in the app. Riders are also able to reserve scooters ahead of time.
  • Lyft will also be providing trilingual on-scooter educational decals (English, Spanish, Vietnamese) along with Vietnamese translation of the San Jose microsite.

Below are quotes from Lyft, the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, and Councilmember Lan Diep.

Lyft: “We’re thrilled to bring Lyft Scooters to San Jose and provide a quick, affordable and sustainable way to move around - all within a single app,” said Jake Darby, Market Manager for Lyft Bikes & Scooters. “Lyft is committed to a future where cities are built around people instead of private cars — and Lyft scooters can play a key role in furthering this movement locally here in San Jose.”

Silicon Valley Bike Coalition: "Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition recognizes the enormous potential electric scooters have to improve mobility and accelerate our push for healthier communities,” said Shiloh Ballard, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. "We look forward to working alongside Lyft to support our overarching goals of making multi-modal options safe, accessible, convenient and fun."

Councilmember Lan Diep: “With today’s launch of Lyft scooters, San Jose residents will have an additional sustainable and affordable option for commuting across our city. I want to thank Lyft for working with the City of San Jose to better serve members of our Vietnamese community with trilingual in-app education and decals, and for offering its Community Pass to reach low-income residents across all neighborhoods."

The Lyft Scooter service area is below and for more information you can click here

Monday, March 4, 2019

Boring Company tunnel from Downtown San Jose to SJC

Last month there was a surprise announcement that Sam Liccardo has been in talks with The Boring Company for the past 18 months about a project that would connect Diridon to the airport via a 4-mile tunnel. The Boring Company is a disruptor in the tunneling space using hybrid-electric boring machines and several other innovations to reduce the cost of tunneling by a factor of 10. A two-way tunnel to the airport could cost less than $100 million versus the $800+ million a traditional people-mover would cost to build.

Now is really the perfect opportunity to start looking at next generation transportation options. As we have witnessed with California High-Speed Rail, paying for something that is both the most expensive and slowest high-speed train in the world makes little sense. Same goes for spending almost a billion dollars for a 4 mile people mover shuttling people at 25-35 MPH. If we can lay the foundation for a network that will reduce traffic and move people faster and do it at a far lower cost, that is worth exploring. Kudos for Sam for taking the initiative so long ago. Silicon Valley deserve a transit system that makes our innovative heritage proud.

Source: Teslarati, SVBJ

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Stringent E-Scooter Regulations for San Jose

Guest Post by written by Samantha Larson

The San Jose scooter fad may come to a halt due to new legislation. Last week, the San Jose City Council passed stringent laws against scooter companies to help mitigate the serious safety concerns they present for residents.

To continue operating in San Jose’s city limits, scooter companies, such as Lime, Bird, and Wind, must receive a permit, pay an annual permit application fee of $2,500 and fork over $124 per scooter each year to continue operations. But with an estimated worth of $1 billion and $1.1 billion, these fees are merely chump change to Bird and Lime.

The real hard-hitting legislation is that these companies must also protect the city from legal claims and obtain sizable insurance. In addition to a rise in scooter-related injuries, scooters pose a serious threat to an already seriously high rate of pedestrian accidents in San Jose. To help combat these statistics, the ordinance will limit scooter speeds to 12 MPH, and come July, will force companies to find a solution to keep scooters off public sidewalks.

If companies fail to keep scooters off public property, the ordinance requires a 24-hour customer service line in three languages, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, to respond to reports of improperly stored scooters within a two-hour window. Companies will also have to consider the socio-economic impact of their service: the ordinance mandates scooters will need to be equally distributed to low-income areas and provide discounts to low-income users. User data will be shared with the city of San Jose to track the number of devices and user behavior.

Any violation of the rules above will cost companies $100 for their first offense, rising to $500 fines for repeat offenders, with the possibility of having their permits revoked.

But San Jose is far from the only city passing stringent laws. Many cities nationwide are facing the duality of scooter presence; on one hand, scooters are eco-friendly and low-cost, but on the other hand, they pose a serious personal injury and public safety threat.

Since the birth of e-scooter dockless sharing began in February of 2018, it has helped San Jose towards its goal of climate change consciousness and Vision Zero. This being said, it has also birthed and exacerbated issues of pedestrian safety, equitable access, and rider education.

Though the ordinance is expected to come into practice by February, it is possible 2019 can bring even more changes for scooter services and rider expectations to best fit the needs and demands of San Jose city life.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

San Jose Railroad history and a teaser for new museum

In 1864, the San Jose and San Francisco Railroad was completed after a decade of planning. If you think your commute is rough today, before the railroad was built it would take 8 hours by stagecoach to travel between San Jose and San Francisco. The railroad cut it down to "only" 3 hours.

In the short 3 minute video below, you will get a glimpse at the past and a teaser for a future museum near the Play Garden on Coleman. To learn more about the San Jose Railroad Museum, just check out the video below.

Source: WMS Media

Railroad Video Final from WMS media Inc. on Vimeo.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Downtown San Jose BART Station renders

Now that the construction methodology has been finalized for the BART subway in San Jose (single bore), let's have a quick look at the stunning station that is being planned for Downtown San Jose. To call the current design "open" would be a serious understatement. From the lowest point you can look up to the ceiling 145 feet or so above. The layout is modern and welcoming with high tech flourishes throughout. Check out the renders below of what will become one of the most iconic stations in the BART network.

Source: Robertee from the San Jose Development Forum

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

VTA's BART Phase II Update

Below is a webinar with the latest updates on the $4.69 billion BART Phase II project. This will be the most expensive transit project in Silicon Valley history and add a subway through Downtown San Jose with three stations along with a new terminus station in Santa Clara.

The video is 40 minutes long, but well worth watching if you are interested in transportation projects. One question that came up multiple times is why the heck we are building a completely redundant station in Santa Clara that is already serviced by Caltrain instead of evaluating running BART to San Jose International or Santana Row. Unfortunately, the response was very mediocre--it takes a long time to plan these projects and voters already voted for this specific alignment. I have to say that is a disappointing answer and is completely misaligned with the pace of change in Silicon Valley. It will be 9 years (at least) until this project is completed, so we should make sure we build that most effective system that will maximize utilization instead of making multi-billion dollar errors because we did the easy thing instead of the right thing.

BART itself is built on 45 year old technology. I have been a huge advocate and supporter, but honestly am starting to have doubts that BART will be the most effective transportation solution in 2026. Self-driving cars will completely change the transportation landscape within a decade, and costs will come dangerously close to public transit for point-to-point transportation in a private cabin. I hope that VTA is agile enough to keep up with transit innovations and make sure we are building these epic projects for the future and not for the past.

Video Link

Monday, January 30, 2017

Digging for San Jose's Subway begins in two years

Thanks to the election last November, San Jose is getting a legitimate subway system consisting of three stations: Downtown San Jose, Diridon Station, and Alum Rock. Construction is coming sooner than you think. Shovels should hit the ground in late 2018 and continue until 2023. The $4 billion subway is slated to begin service in 2026.

While the idea of a BART subway in our city is very exciting, it will mean epic construction projects, street closures, and all sorts of temporary inconveniences. Currently there are two potential options for building the subway, a single bore (photo below) or twin bore. The SVBJ lists the pros and cons of each, but there is no way around the fact that streets will completely be torn up to build the stations. The tunnels themselves will be deep enough underground to not have a huge impact on the surface.

Other areas up for discussion are whether to build the Downtown San Jose station in the East between Third and Fifth Street (closer to City Hall and SJSU) or in the West between Market and Third Street (closer to the Downtown core). Either option should attract the same number of riders and will permanently change the face of Santa Clara street.

There are obviously a lot of big questions and decisions, but it will certainly be a very exciting decade for South Bay transportation improvements.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

San Jose BART Station - latest updates

San Jose is just one year away from finally being connected to BART. Below is the latest update from the VTA, which is responsible for the extension to Silicon Valley. Both the Milpitas and San Jose stations should be open in late 2017. Watch the short video below for construction photos and details.