Tag Archives: transportation

Transit projects are great for economic development!

I just returned from a transit conference in Hollywood called Rail-Volution where I heard again and again to economic benefits of transit projects. So, I wanted to write a post looking into this idea and link to a few good articles.

I first want to thank the organizers of the conference who gave me a scholarship to attend. I wouldn’t have been able to go w/o their support.

For some time now, many folks have talked about the safety benefits of transit, bike and pedestrian projects. How they calm traffic, make it safer to walk and cycle, and more. Now much of the discussion has moved to the amount of investment, increases in business, and rising land value that follows major transit projects.
An recent article in the New York Times does a good job of explaining the connection between transit and business.

Cleveland built at very successful BRT line along the old Euclid corridor that connects downtown with University Circle which had a large hospital campus. Since opening 2008 $3.4 Billion in economic development along the corridor since the project has been built. Amazing! I’ve heard, but couldn’t confirm that the Healthline has already exceeded 20-year ridership projections. The point of my mentioning these projects is the Transit expansion often is followed by investment and in the case of Cleveland, huge amounts of money.

San Jose VTA has proposed the build a BRT line down Steven’s Creek road. This would connect downtown San Jose with De Anza College. VTA wants to build a much longer BRT all the way down El Camino Real. This has run into problems recently. I will write more more on this later.

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Has walking be engineered out of our lives?

This is a question that Tom Vanderbuilt has asked in his series of articles on the history of walking. I think the case of Millbrae station the answer is yes. As I pointed out in my thesis, the Station is so isolated by El Camino and Millbrea Ave. that one can more easily reach it by car even though its within a 1/2 mile of downtown Millbrea. Here’s the link to the series.

That said, walking to downtown from the neighborhoods to the west, is great! There are sidewalks, slow(ish) moving traffic, and many great destinations to walk to. The problem lies is getting the other 1/2 mile to the station. If one drives the .5 – 1 mile to the station and then rides BART or Caltrain, you’ve lost most of the air pollution savings because cars emit most of their pollution in the 1st 5 minutes of use. After 5 minutes, the warming up period, a car doesn’t emit all that much pollution. What if those folks who drive to the station could walk there? They would get to know their neighborhood better, spend money in downtown shops, and get a little excerise in the process. Let’s try and think differently about how we get around.

On an unrelated note, a friend who cycled the bay trail sent me a note about how close the station is to the trail, but that he did not know how close it was because there were no signs! There are lots of reasons the signs are not there the most important being that a route around the airport has not been planned yet. Currently one has to ride the surface streets through the airport and then connect with the separated bay trail on either side. Tons of people do this now and the city installed bike lanes on a few of the streets to make things better. But Millbrea station would be a great place to start or end one’s trip on the bay trail since its only about a 1/2 mile away. The big problem getting to and from the station is the Millbrea Ave. overpass at 101. Its really hairy b/c of the on-ramp/off-ramps are really difficult to navigate. Thanks Tom for the comment!

Keep Walkin’

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