Thursday, August 2, 2018

Dear VTA: Don't Kill the Express Trains

Here's what's going on: right now I am sitting on a VTA light rail train at Santa Teresa Station. It leaves at 7:19. This post is coming from my two year old Chromebook and a free wi-fi connection provided by VTA (thanks, VTA).

This is the train I usually take to get to work at a downtown San Jose nonprofit. It's pretty quick and my folding bike solves the last mile problem. 

But I have a new problem this week: VTA is holding a vote tonight to eliminate express trains from the Santa Teresa/Alum Rock line. 

On paper, this means I and a lot of other passengers (the four-bike rack usually fills up one stop in) will be faced with three realities:

1) fewer trains to choose from
2) more crowded trains to choose from 
3) slower trains to choose from

This is a pretty big deal on several fronts, not the least of which is that California feels more than ever like a hypocrite when it comes to climate change and traffic congestion. The rules are set in opposition to the values. I have never felt more profoundly punished about having a one car/two driver household until I moved to The Golden State.

So the vote is taking place tonight and I can't go to voice my opposition because having only one car eliminates options in my house. So I am hoping this post (I am just past Cottle right now and the friendly guy with the John Bolton moustache just got on) makes it in front of the right people.

VTA, please consider this: there are a whole lot of new apartments coming to a space just opposite the underpass by Santa Teresa station. Wouldn't you like people shopping for a new place to live to see good options to take the train when they are thinking of a place to move?

And just today the Trump administration announced it wants to freeze fuel economy standards and, if that wasn't enough, curb California's ability to set its own climate change goals with regards to fuel efficiency.

Couple that with the greedy, stupid and shortsighted ballot measure to kill the twelve cent per gallon tax increase. 

Oh - and let's stop looking the other way when we talk about the wildfires costing the state a ton of money to fight and our constant use of cars.

VTA, the state needs leadership and I can't speak for everyone but I'd rather not look at my 13 year old SUV and think it is a better option to get to work. I shouldn't start the process of Googling "good podcasts to listen to while stuck in mind-numbing traffic" and giving up on the idea that one can, in fact, own a bike in San Jose and live a normal existence like everyone else. 

I get that you may need a cost saving measure so why not instead sell half of the parking lot in Santa Teresa to an affordable housing developer? Look at it: half of the spaces don't even have oil stains on them!

So please remember: you're not voting to get rid of Express Trains and save your organization money. You're voting to present your own riders with fewer trains/slower trains/more crowded trains - which will do nothing more than make driving all the way to work more attractive.

Right now we just passed Ohlone-Chynoweth. We're speeding along and I have to post this now. Thanks for reading and thanks for not doing anything profoundly shortsighted.


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