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Slowing Down Trains Will Build Up Gridlock


Plan. Implement. Review. Tweak. Redeploy.

This is the pattern that has helped VTA modify and improve its service to Levi’s Stadium since the first event in early August, and it’s the pattern we continue to follow as we work to make riding the best possible experience for passengers.

A recent assertion that light rail was impeding traffic and that the frequency of light rail service to the stadium needs to be decreased to allow more cars through may have raised the concern of some of our riders: is VTA really considering slowing down trains to benefit cars?

The short answer is no.

A little bit longer answer is no, but we understand the importance of ensuring an overall smoothly flowing transportation network, of which we are a part. But that does not mean we will purposely slow down the frequency of trains from 5 minutes to 7 or 8 minutes. It does mean we’ll work with our partners in the vicinity of Levi’s Stadium to help all travelers have a more expedient trip.

It bears repeating that mass transportation is the most efficient way to move people to and from large events. With trains leaving every 5 minutes and supplemental bus service to help carry people home, VTA moved a total of 9,400 passengers in 65 minutes for the first regular-season 49ers game on Sept. 14.

Studies on traffic show that the average number of people per car going to Levi’s Stadium is 2.7. For our purposes, we’ll just say 3. If those 9,400 passengers had driven, the gridlock would have increased by at least 3,100 more cars.  Transit is not the problem; transit is a solution.

If we slowed down trains or decreased their frequency, we would negatively impact that solution and would provide no tangible benefit to vehicle movement.

We all know that any time a large number of people leave an event simultaneously; there will be some waiting – either in line for transit or in cars. VTA has managed to cut time spent waiting in line, and will continue to modify our plan to realize all possible efficiencies and serve our riders in the best manner possible.  We have decades of experience moving large crowds, but there is always something new to learn, and we pay attention to the lessons each event is teaching us.

VTA is a committed partner in transportation to and from the stadium, and we have been and will continue to work with our partners to improve the flow of traffic. For instance, we changed how we manage train movements at Centennial and Tasman to help with egress from nearby parking lots during events. We have also coordinated with law enforcement at Convention Center Drive to improve movement and safety of trains, pedestrians and automobiles post-event. It’s important to us to improve traffic, because our buses and trains get caught in it as well, affecting service, schedules and connections for all riders.

As the designated Congestion Management Agency for Santa Clara County, we are offering our expertise in managing traffic flow, and will continue to work with our partners to improve transportation to and from the stadium for all users. And because of decades of experience, we know 5-minute train frequencies are key to maximizing movement.

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