Santa Clara County VTA keeps door open for Bus Rapid Transit dedicated lanes

At a meeting on Friday, September 21, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)  considered next steps for its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project for El Camino Real.

A proposal for dedicated lanes, which would provide the most speed advantage, had been approved by Santa Clara, but nixed by Sunnyvale City Council in a close vote in July, following significant concerns from auto dealership on El Camino. Mountain View Council had rejected dedicated lanes in January due to concern about potential traffic impact, and dedicated lanes had not been proposed for Palo Alto.

Although the VTA board will not take a vote until its next meeting in October, the direction they provided was:

  • to proceed with a scaled back project (with dedicated lanes in Santa Clara, and “mixed-flow” BRT in other cities) and
  • to study the dedicated lane option in the Environmental Impact Report in order to provide more information to the cities on the corridor.
  • to continue outreach to the cities and businesses in the corridor
The approach to continue to study of dedicated lanes and outreach to the communities was recommended by advocacy groups including Transform, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Greenbelt Alliance, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, and Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter.

In Mountain View and Sunnyvale, the City Council was not yet persuaded by VTA’s case for the ridership benefits compared to the potential impacts on vehicle traffic.  There were community concerns, particularly among some businesses on the corridor. So the additional information from the EIR alternatives analysis, and the additional community outreach, may be helpful in countering the initial opposition to dedicated lanes.

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