How will new San Jose Tamien development affect access to Caltrain station?

Last week, the VTA board advanced a proposal from the Dahlin Group to build a housing development with 263 rental units and 36 for-sale townhouse on the east side of the Tamien Caltrain and VTA Light Rail stations, on land currently used as the Caltrain parking lot.  In the early proposal, the concept is for Caltrain’s parking lot to be moved to the far side of the freeway.  The long tunnel under the freeway is often deserted and has a reputation as unsafe, according to neighbor Jean Dresden.  Unless improvements are made, riders would also have to cross a freeway on ramp and off ramp that is monitored only by stop signs.

Screen shot 2013-06-08 at 7.49.57 PM

Unlike most Caltrain stations, where only a minority of riders get to the station in a car, Tamien station gets 69% of its riders from the parking lot, and another 9% dropped off by car.  Caltrain riders who live in the neighborhood suspect that the high “park-and-ride” mode share is partly a result of the infrequent Caltrain schedule in growing neighborhoods south of Tamien.    Caltrain’s data shows that ridership at Tamien has been growing, but not why. In the coming year, Caltrain plans to do an “origin-destination” study, to get better actual information about where riders come from and go to before and after taking the train.

Of course, new homes next to the station will add a population of potential riders who don’t need to drive to the station.  Another development with 12-story towers was previously approved by the City of San Jose for Swenson Builders at the corner of Lick and Alma Avenues, at the far side of the freeway, would add even more people walking distance from the train, and put more eyes on the tunnel. But that won’t fix the access issue for other Tamien users.

The team of developers and San Jose staff are well aware of the need to address community concerns, according to the VTA Congestion Committee Staff Report, which explained that “another obstacle to the development is gaining the support of the local community. The project team will engage the community throughout the process to get their input and reflect the community vision in the final plan.”

There will be opportunities to provide feedback on the development If you live near Tamien and want new development to ensure safe and convenient access to Caltrain, sign up here and put “Tamien” in the comments field.

Preliminary designs for Tamien housing

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10 Responses to How will new San Jose Tamien development affect access to Caltrain station?

  1. Neil says:

    Looking at the plans, I think the same level of pedestrian access will still be maintained if the project is built. Though I do have a couple points:
    1) In response to anyone who would argue that taking away parking might discourage ridership, Caltrain isn’t exactly in a position where they should, or need to, be trying to attract riders; they’re pretty much at capacity as is.
    2) I’m predicting there is going to be an intense NIMBY response, residents of Willow Glen are terrible in that regard, and there seemed to backlash to a school (and a public park for godssake) being proposed for the next lot over.

    • Adina Levin says:

      Caltrain is working on adding a 6th car on the bullet trains in the coming year to add more capacity. Rather than accepting Caltrain’s capacity issues as a hard limit, I think it is better to encourage more ways to overcome the capacity problems. The region is growing – if transit can’t keep up, than driving mode share will grow, which will be worse for the environment, traffic congestion, and health.

      • Neil says:

        Oh, I’m not saying the capacity issues don’t need to be addressed (through adding cars and eventual electrification), just that I’m sure the issue of removing a parking lot is going to be brought up. It really shouldn’t be an issue though because the station is already quite well served by transit.

    • Sarah Cooke says:

      Neil, Although city park money paid for the land, over half of the new city park was given over to the Rocketship Charter school—-the third Rocketship in the same neighborhood–within 10 blocks! The local school district is suing the land use decision. The only other park within a mile is a postage stamp–a former house lot. Tamien Caltrain Station is in Washington neighborhood–high crime, high gang–not Willow Glen. Many people think it is wrong to give away parkland, don’t you?

      • Neil says:

        Well as it stands, its just an empty lot sitting there. I don’t think anyone has (or at least should have) a problem with “too many schools in the neighborhood”, especially if its going to lead to a park finally being built. We shouldn’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect, especially in a neighborhood needing improvements as you pointed out.

        And I guess its not technically “Willow Glen” but since when has that stopped people from Willow Glen from putting their nose into it? Certainly not when the Skyline building was proposed.

  2. Adina Levin says:

    At the most of Caltrain stations, a sizeable major of riders get to the station without driving and parking. But not at Tamien. At Tamien, most people drive and park according to Caltrain’s numbers. Caltrain is planning an origin/destination study in the coming year, so they will have information about whether people are driving to Tamien even though they could conveniently walk or bike or transit, or whether they are coming from further away.

    I don’t personally have a strong opinion about how access should be provided to Tamien. The stations I use most often are Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Mountain View and sometimes Diridon. But people who do use Tamien should pay attention and weigh in about whether and how the upcoming changes near the station will affect station access.

  3. evans says:

    From Tamien, Caltrain runs 2 train per hours in weekday peak direction but departing uneven train to train spacing as 5:50, 5:56, 6:49, 6:56, 7:10, 7:47, 7:56, 8:33. If there are 2 train/hour, they should make this every 30 mintues like 5:50, 6:20, 6:50……
    I would like to see this kind of improvement which don’t require additional cost.

  4. R says:

    Right now there are only 3 trains for south of Tamien. Frequency of this train should be increased so people don’t need to drive to Tamien to catch train and more people would ride caltrain too.

  5. Caroline says:

    Interesting. When following the link to provide feedback, Tamien is left off the list of the CalTrain stations to select!
    “There will be opportunities to provide feedback on the development If you live near Tamien and want new development to ensure safe and convenient access to Caltrain, sign up here and put “Tamien” in the comments field.”

    This station effects two districts; 3 (east) and 6 (west). Willow Glen is definitely effected.
    My biggest concerns at this point are:
    - Traffic congestion. It is already a major bottle neck at Lick/Alma due to the 3 way stop, and no turn lane for CalTrain parking.
    - Will there now be a parking fee for the new parking structure?
    - Will there be a “skywalk” of sorts for pedestrians to avoid crossing rush-hour traffic? Safety is already a concern at this station (break-ins in the parking lot, dark tunnels to get to the lot, etc); without addressing it this compounds safety issues.

  6. Pingback: Green Caltrain | Caltrain electrification environmental report: traffic, parking and bikes

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