State Route 85 Transit Guideway Study – February 2018 Policy Advisory Board Update

VTA regularly studies travel corridors to evaluate the best way to relieve congestion throughout Santa Clara County. The State Route (SR) 85 Transit Guideway Study evaluates transportation alternatives for the 23.7-mile corridor that connects the cities of Mountain View and San Jose, from the SR 85/US 101 interchange in Mountain View to the SR 85/US 101 interchange in South San Jose. Transportation alternatives being explored include Bus Rapid Transit service and infrastructure, Light Rail Transit, and possible future transportation technologies.
On February 26, VTA staff provided the State Route 85 Corridor Policy Advisory Board with the following updates:
1.  Study Progress – The Study is comprised of 3 Tasks: travel market analysis, development of alternatives to be studied, and analyses of each alternative. VTA advised the Board that the Study is nearing completion of Task 1.
2.  Funding Status – It was anticipated that the Study would be funded by 2016 Measure B.  However, shortly after the passage of the 2016 Measure B, a lawsuit was filed challenging its legality and all tax dollars collected to date are being held in reserve until the court issues its decision. As such, in May 2017, the Board voted to advance 2008 Measure A funding for completion of Task 1. Once work on Task 1 is completed, staff will pause work on Task 2 and 3 until a favorable resolution of the Measure B lawsuit.
3.  Hypothetical Transit Travel Speeds - Staff calculated hypothetical transit travel times and speeds for both light rail service and bus service along this corridor. The purpose of the analysis was to get a high-level sense for the appeal of different travel modes to time-sensitive travelers. Staff advised the Board that with a dedicated guideway, travel by bus would provide slightly faster travel speeds than travel by light rail. 
4.  Cost Components for Light Rail and Bus as Compared with Peer Agencies – In response to various Board members’ desire to understand VTA’s operation costs as compared with peer agencies, staff undertook a review of the operating costs for 17 different transit operators. The peer review showed that all 17 agencies showed a higher hourly light rail operating cost than bus operating cost. Staff also provided the Board with information explaining why light rail service is generally more expensive to run than bus service.
5.  Corporate Shuttle Operations – One of the project designs being explored for this Study is the construction of a dedicated guideway for use by public transit buses and potentially by corporate shuttles. To fully understand the mix of traffic using SR 85, data was collected over two days using video surveys at six locations along the corridor. Based on that survey, staff estimated that corporate shuttles carry an average number of 150-200 passengers per hour in areas of lighter traffic and 600-900 passengers in areas of heavier traffic.

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