29 January 2017

San Jose Done Right

Map of VTA's BART extension
San Jose is the tenth largest city in the U.S. (by population), with more people than San Francisco; the city achieves this statistical feat by encompassing 180 square miles.  Such a large and populous city surely deserves top-notch rail transit.  BART is widely viewed as top-notch rail transit, which is why the city and VTA (Santa Clara County's transportation authority) have made extending BART through San Jose their very top priority.

Actual expenditures from VTA
Measure A (2000) sales tax, 2015
So overwhelming is the priority for BART that VTA re-programmed the revenue from a half-cent transit sales tax (Measure A) passed back in 2000 primarily to the BART extension, breaking a promise made to voters that a significant portion would fund Caltrain electrification.  The actual expenditures through 2015 are shown in the diagram at left; money spent on the BART extension is shown in blue, and money spent on Caltrain in red.

As can be readily observed, the Measure A money is nearly gone, and the BART tunnel through San Jose is not even started.  That's why another half-cent transportation sales tax Measure B was passed in Santa Clara County in November 2016 to raise a further $6 billion through the year 2047.  Exactly like 2000 Measure A, 2016 Measure B promises lots of funding for Caltrain, an ample 16% slice that includes grade separations ($700M) and capacity improvements ($314M).  The small print, however, allows the VTA board to re-program the funding as it sees fit, adapting spending to "unforeseen" circumstances such as, perish the thought, an over-budget BART extension.

With San Jose and VTA suffering from a severe case of BART tunnel vision, it's important to take a more holistic view of what it means to provide the residents and workers of San Jose with a top-notch rail transit network.

San Jose Pan-Galactic Inter-Dimensional Station

San Jose planners will insist that creating a network is their highest priority, and to that effect, their Diridon Station Area Plan seeks to establish a new "Grand Central of the West," as described in Section 2.5 of the plan:
San José Diridon Station will be the best connected transportation hub on the West Coast with the convergence of virtually every mode of public transportation. Activity will increase dramatically with the addition of high speed rail and the extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to Diridon station, combined with significant growth by current intercity rail, commuter rail, light rail and bus operators. These new services and growth in demand will create the need for a significant expansion of the existing station. 
This ambitious station development plan rests on two fundamental but unstated assumptions:
  1. Caltrain, ACE and Amtrak will continue to operate Diridon station as a terminus, where out of service trains are parked for extended layover periods, wasting valuable platform space as train storage.
     
  2. As a result, high-speed rail will not fit within the ground-level footprint of the station, and will most likely require an entirely new elevated facility built over the existing station.

Ridership assumptions for Diridon
These two assumptions are firmly rooted in the ambitious plans of numerous rail transit agencies that prefer to avoid stepping on each other's toes.  Each agency specifies its future needs, San Jose consultants unquestioningly tally up the numbers (see figure at right), and end up prescribing a framework that demands a massive station complex to support a nearly ten-fold increase in ridership over the next twenty years.

Caltrain and high-speed rail consultants have conducted a sophisticated simulation study known as an "operational conflict analysis" that predicted an intolerable traffic jam, with peak-hour delays of nearly an hour.

The Diridon Station Area Plan and the Caltrain / HSR operational analyses are flawed for having failed to examine and question the assumptions on which they are built.  Yes, the station has enormous potential to become a thriving transportation hub, but that is precisely what makes it a very bad place to park out of service trains. Parking or laying over trains at a station platform is the railroad equivalent of parking an empty truck in the middle of a bustling loading zone, and then concluding that the loading zone fails to function adequately and must be expanded.

Trains need to hustle in and hustle out without occupying enormously valuable platform tracks. As will become clear, the simple practice of not parking trains in the worst place to park trains enables a far more efficient and affordable at-grade station configuration for San Jose that provides the same great network effect and transportation benefits for the heart of Silicon Valley, saving enormous sums that can be re-invested to achieve a much better outcome for riders and taxpayers.

Here's San Jose done right:

1) Extend Caltrain through San Jose

Falling short: census data for the Caltrain corridor in San Jose,
overlaid with Caltrain service levels for April 2017.
Viewed as a line on a map, Caltrain already runs through San Jose and beyond, with Gilroy service having started back in 1992. San Jose Diridon station (served by 92 trains/weekday) isn't a natural terminus; south of it, there are three additional stops located within San Jose city limits: Tamien (dropping from 40 to 34 trains/weekday in April 2017), Capitol (6 trains/weekday) and Blossom Hill (6 trains/weekday). Service between Diridon and Tamien is timetabled at 7 minutes, which makes for an average speed of 15 mph, and average speeds south of there hover around 30 mph. The abysmal service south of Diridon station lacks two important attributes of top-notch rail transit: speed and frequency. That's why it's fair to say that despite that line on the map, Caltrain has yet to be extended through San Jose. It's time to do it properly.

One challenge is jurisdictional, with Union Pacific owning the tracks south of milepost 52 and VTA currently holding the rights for only ten daily round trips. However, UPRR does not make intensive use of these tracks, and as a profit-making enterprise would likely be receptive to an outright transfer of ownership while retaining trackage rights to continue operating its Coast Subdivision freight service as before. This would simply extend the existing arrangement between CP Coast (milepost 44.7) and CP Lick (milepost 51.6), where the Caltrain owns the right of way and dispatches the track, southwards to CP Coyote (milepost 59.9).

Another challenge is institutional, with VTA having a vested interest in making commuters use the Santa Teresa branch of its light rail network. The Caltrain San Jose extension would parallel this line, possibly cannibalizing some of its ridership.

Built-up areas shown in black on a map
by the DLR Earth Observation Center
(Global Urban Footprint).  Tamien,
Capitol and Blossom Hill are shown
disconnected, as they are today.
Demographically, the southern half of San Jose is a rich but poorly tapped source of commuter ridership, with dense residential neighborhoods surrounding the corridor. More than 100,000 people live within two miles of the Tamien and Capitol stops, and 75,000 people live within two miles of the Blossom Hill stop. Census data argues strongly for locating the Caltrain terminus at Blossom Hill, with an electrified train storage yard / layover facility in this large vacant space [UPDATE: that large vacant space seems to be spoken for, so look for other unbuilt spaces in map at left], a far better place to park out of service trains than in the middle of San Jose Diridon. ACE and Amtrak trains could be turned at the existing Tamien layover facility.

Turning all Caltrain service at Blossom Hill would improve service for hundreds of thousands of San Jose residents and workers, at some increase in capital cost (to electrify) and operating cost (12 minute longer runs). On the other hand, it would greatly reduce Caltrain's requirement for tracks and platforms at Diridon station. Caltrain would operate through the San Jose Diridon station much like it does at the Palo Alto University Avenue station, using just two tracks and two platform faces. If that seems hard to imagine, remember that Palo Alto has almost 60% more ridership than San Jose Diridon; any perceived need for all those tracks and platforms at Diridon, and the profoundly mistaken notion of a "South Terminal", arises from existing jurisdictional boundaries and Caltrain's unhealthy habit of parking trains in the worst possible place to park trains.

2) Build high-speed rail at grade.

Thousands of cubic yards of concrete,
zero marginal transportation benefit
With Caltrain's San Jose footprint shrunk to just two platform faces, and with HSR's recent decision to shrink platform length to just 800 feet, it becomes feasible to operate the San Jose HSR service entirely within the existing at-grade footprint of the station, without the need for expensive new elevated or tunneled infrastructure. Two of the existing platforms are already over 1200 feet long and could be converted for HSR use. Just as in San Francisco Transbay, these platforms could be shared with Caltrain, taking advantage of Caltrain's new dual-boarding-height trains and leading to even more efficient utilization of the existing station footprint.

Operationally, HSR would have to quit the same nasty habit of parking trains in the worst possible place to park trains.  Trains would have to layover somewhere north of Diridon, or continue onto the peninsula rail corridor.  There is no operational need for longer station dwell times than two or three minutes within the Diridon complex: get in, board and/or alight passengers, and most promptly and importantly, get out. Go layover somewhere else than the bustling city center.

Building everything at-grade would save about a billion dollars (by foregoing about $250M for elevated approach tracks, $500M for the elevated Diridon station complex itself, and $500M for the "iconic" but entirely avoidable viaduct to cross the 87/280 freeway interchange to the south). An added benefit of the at-grade approach to San Jose is higher speeds and lower trip times. The extremely tight 1000-foot curve radius that connects Diridon to an "iconic" viaduct saps the 'H' out of HSR by limiting trains to just 50 mph, while the existing curve through the Gardner neighborhood could be grade separated and operated at 65 mph.

Rather than cower in the shadow of a new "iconic" bridge proclaiming loudly that they are just a flyover neighborhood, residents of San Jose's Gardner district would gain a grade separation at Virginia Street, improving neighborhood access that has been so brutally cut off by the I-280 and SR-87 freeways, and eliminating the sound of railroad horns--even freight train horns.

3) End the BART extension at Diridon/Arena

As planned by VTA, the BART to San Jose Phase II project doesn't just take BART to San Jose, but takes BART beyond the San Jose Diridon/Arena station, veering north to parallel the Caltrain / HSR corridor for a redundant 2.5 miles, ending in Santa Clara.  While this configuration might have made sense long ago when BART harbored ambitions to "ring the Bay" by linking Millbrae and Santa Clara, the present state of affairs argues for a different solution.

From a transportation perspective, it makes no sense to spend ~$1.5 billion of scarce transit dollars (pro-rated from the $6 billion cost of the entire Phase II project) on a 9000-foot tunnel leading to a huge Santa Clara station complex just to provide a third way to ride between San Jose Diridon and Santa Clara, two locations already well-linked by Caltrain and VTA's 522 express bus.

BART maintenance yard at Las Plumas
Avenue in San Jose, an alternative
that was withdrawn in EIR process
The main argument against truncating the BART extension revolves around a new 69-acre maintenance facility planned at Newhall Yard in Santa Clara. BART argues that Santa Clara and downtown San Jose are too far away from the nearest existing maintenance and storage facility, BART's main Hayward Maintenance Complex, to be operated efficiently. The HMC is about 21 miles from Santa Clara, requiring long non-revenue runs to stage trains to/from the end of the San Jose extension.  While this is admittedly an operationally inefficient arrangement, BART appears to have no qualms operating Phase I (to Berryessa) out of the HMC, over a distance of 14 miles. Cutting back the 2.5 miles from Diridon/Arena to Santa Clara would place the end of the line less than 19 miles from HMC, not so much further from the HMC than Berryessa already is. The HMC itself is undergoing a major expansion, with storage space for an additional 250 BART cars environmentally cleared based on a purpose and need statement that invokes servicing the BART to San Jose extension. Even then, if the HMC Phase II expansion were to prove insufficient and if maintenance and storage demands were truly that dire, a small portion of the $1.5 billion cost avoidance of truncating Santa Clara could be reinvested to provide a new BART maintenance shop at Las Plumas Avenue, an alternative that was considered during the environmental process. Trains could also be stored overnight at Diridon/Arena, to avoid long non-revenue runs at the start and end of the day. The bottom line: the argument that a Newhall shop is a non-negotiable, vital component of the BART to Silicon Valley project is technically unfounded and rests on a stay-the-course-at-all-costs logic that fails to appreciate the opportunity costs of blowing $1.5 billion on a train parking lot.

Another argument against truncating the BART extension concerns a planned airport people mover that would link Santa Clara to the SJC terminals, tunneling under the runways. Using a small portion of the $1.5 billion savings of ending BART at Diridon/Arena, the people mover could run straight to Diridon station, without the need for tunneling under the runways, and connect not just with Caltrain and BART but directly with high-speed rail--seamlessly merging the airport and the train station.

4) Use Newhall Yard for HSR

As it turns out, there is a better use for Newhall Yard than BART storage and maintenance, namely, HSR storage and maintenance.

As previously mentioned, long non-revenue runs to stage trains to/from their terminus are operationally inefficient, but BART can get by because nobody else uses their tracks. If the HSR storage and maintenance yard were to be located in Brisbane, these non-revenue runs would consume scarce and valuable operating slots on the extremely constrained peninsula corridor "blended system," further compromising service quality for all rail passengers.

A better plan is to have only a small storage / layover yard in Brisbane, with a larger facility perfectly located just north of San Jose Diridon at Newhall Yard, which would allow a portion of the HSR service to originate / terminate in San Jose without gumming up the peninsula rail corridor. Recall the blended system will be limited to 4 trains per hour per direction unless long stretches of the peninsula corridor are expanded to four tracks, an idea that faces twin obstacles of funding and community opposition.

Organisation vor Elektronik vor Beton

In Germanic countries, there is a guiding principle in rail system design known as Organisation vor Elektronik vor Beton, or roughly, organization before systems before concrete. It gives the order of priorities for quickly and affordably increasing train traffic: first you re-plan your operations, and if that doesn't cut it you improve your technology, for example by using shorter signal blocks, and only as a last resort do you pour concrete.

What is about to happen in San Jose is the exact opposite: legions of consultants primarily from a civil engineering background are (surprise!) recommending a concrete-intensive solution to a problem that is ill-posed because it hasn't first been attacked from the standpoint of re-planning train operations. The entire edifice is built on the nasty habit of parking trains in the worst possible place you could think of to park trains.

The planners and engineers working on the future of the Diridon Station area need to be sent back to the drawing board with new operating assumptions:
  1. Turn all Caltrains at Blossom Hill, operating San Jose Diridon as just another intermediate stop
  2. Turn all legacy diesel trains (ACE, Amtrak) at Tamien, away from the bustle
  3. Turn all high-speed trains originating or terminating in San Jose at Newhall Yard
Thinking of San Jose as a terminal is misleading. The litmus test is really simple: if your timetable, operating plan or simulation has any train spending more than two minutes dwelling at a platform in the San Jose Diridon station, then it is probably flawed. Don't turn trains at the choke point of your system, so that we don't spend billions on fancy train parking with zero value to the traveling public and negative value to the taxpayer.

The Bay Area can ill afford transit mega-projects of low utility, such as the redundant BART segment beyond Diridon/Arena to Santa Clara, the giant HSR station in the sky, or more downtown train parking. The cost is outrageous, and the opportunity cost is shameful.

40 comments:

  1. Yes! Once again, Clem seems to be the only one putting the right ideas together. Well done, Sir.

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    1. +1. Now, how do we get CAHSR to consider this option (and save themselves $1B in money they don’t have yet anyway, in the process)?

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    2. Why not just email them?

      Ben Tripousis btripousis@hsr.ca.gov
      Morgan Galli morgan.galli@hsr.ca.gov

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  2. Is there any one who know why Diridon to Tamien runs so slow?

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    1. Partly because of speed restrictions, especially around the San Jose station itself but also at Tamien, and probably partly because of schedule padding. This is even more the case south of Tamien, where the train sits at every station for an extra minute or two.

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  3. It'll be easy for BART to justify Ring-the-Bay to San Mateo County when they're in Santa Clara. They'll have three possible alignments using the existing Caltrain ROW, 101's median or a tunnel underneath El Camino.

    Perhaps if CAHSR hits max capacity (say, due to intermingling with Caltrain and 800 foot platforms), even they will advocate for it. The PCJPB may not even exist due to (eventual) Northern California Unified Service.

    It'd be an obscene amount of money, though.

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    1. When HSR hits capacity, then they can wait until then. End the the line at Diridon but don't do anything that would preclude expansion.

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  4. While I realize this is somewhat out of scope for this blog, do you think this is a reasonable analog to the situation at LA Union Station? Current plans call for massive underground stations in proximity to LAUS, connected by tunnels. But the Link US project to turn the station from a terminus into a thru station with run thru and loop tracks, combined with a well placed CAHSR yard somewhere nearby, seem to point to this being the right solution for LAUS as well, seeing as there are currently 12(!) platforms at LAUS. Amtrak and Metrolink already have nearby yards that could presumably be used for layovers and turnarounds.

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    1. It's not an analog, quite the opposite: LA has a stub terminal and would prefer to operate it as a through station (for obvious capacity reasons) while SJ already has a through station and inexplicably prefers to operate it as a stub terminal! I guess it must be a NorCal thing, but it is complete nonsense.

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    2. Very true. I'm more thinking about it from the needlessly pouring concrete perspective. The run thru tracks are a great idea. Why not use them for HSR instead of digging a massive tunnel and station box for separate operations?

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    3. Is HSR still not using the normal station? Good gawd

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    4. I don't have a link, but IIRC the latest is that CAHSR using the existing station is back in play. Part of the reason for the run-through tracks is actually to get better access to the existing Amtrak and Metrolink storage yards. Right now trains sit at LAUS longer than they otherwise would have to partly because everything has to go through the existing station throat.

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  5. There is another rail ROW that runs from downtown through South San Jose. I'm referring, of course, to the Santa Teresa LRT line. It runs in a wide and straight freeway median, and is almost completely grade separated. To a first order approximation, that VTA LRT line carries zero passengers, so another upside is that VTA can save millions in its operating budget. And it avoids any entanglements with UP and Caltrain, though if Caltrain wants they could run their EMU's in a blended operation on the tracks.

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    1. Daring. Fixing the curve radii and vertical clearances would probably be cost prohibitive.

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    2. Cost prohibitive compared to what? CHSRA/Parsons wants to build miles and miles of 80' aerials.

      Also note the UP tracks south of Diridon pass under several overpasses. Unless they were designed with electrification in mind, would they not also have vertical clearance issues?

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. I get your point anonymous, but getting out of the Santa Teresa Right of Way (Highway CA-87, or just highway 87) would be a bit of a pain. The Santa Teresa LRT right-of-way directly enters downtown San Jose, so unless you're willing to run high-speed trains down busy streets or also spend lots of money building a new ramp to San Jose Diridon, you're out of luck.

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  6. Does anyone have a reference for the cost breakdown of the BART extension? Usually underground stations are by far the most expensive part of any subway (much more expensive than the tunnel itself)

    I would prefer they skipped Diridon and went straight to Santa Clara. Downtown San Jose jobs/population doesn't really justify two BART stations so close together and a transfer at a surface Santa Clara BART station would be several minutes faster than getting up from from a deep underground Diridon station then navigating the slow CEMOF curve on Caltrain/Amtrak/ACE. VTA transfers would be at the downtown SJ station. Post-electrification it should be no problem to have all Caltrains stop at Santa Clara.

    I think Santa Clara makes more sense than Diridon for a HSR station too. Have a joint HSR/BART storage and maintenance yard at Newhall. Easy access to all the rental cars/long term parking at SJC. Closer to most of the SV jobs. Call it an 'interim' station so it can be built nice and simple without all the civic pride baggage attached to Diridon.

    Note that I actually live in San Jose not far from Diridon, and would love to see BART/HSR close to me. I just think that Santa Clara makes much more sense.


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    1. Pages 27-30 of this slide show illustrate the Diridon station alternatives. Platforms are 5o feet deep in the twin bore alternative and 90 and 105 feet deep in the single bore alternative.

      Diridon station fact sheet here: http://vtaorgcontent.s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/Site_Content/BSV-phaseII_diridon_092816-FS.pdf

      Lots more docs here: http://www.vta.org/bart/communications/document-library

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    2. Thanks for the links. I hadn't seen that latest presentation before. If they go for the deep single-bore option, the transfer at Diridon is going to involve ascending 3 escalators from 100ft below ground. If the west downtown option is chosen, then there is only 0.5 miles between the 2 BART stations (Market St. to Autumn St.). I still think the surface Santa Clara station is a much better transfer point.

      I still didn't see a cost breakdown of station/tunnel cost on the VTA site. Clem says Tunnel+Newhall yard+Santa Clara Station is $1.5Billion (out of $4.7 billion total), but not sure where he gets that. When they floated a 2-station option (skipping Alum Rock and Santa Clara stations, but keeping the tunnel and Newhall yard), they estimated saving about $1.2 billion.

      It all comes down to whether Newhall yard is really necessary. If not, then I agree with Clem that they should skip that entirely and terminate at Diridon. However, if they decide they absolutely need Newhall, then the Santa Clara station is a higher priority than Diridon in my opinion.

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    3. I have been arguing for a long time the VTA needs to look at relocating the Newhall Yard functions to an area near the Berryessa BART station. Using that space for HSR makes a lot more sense than using it for BART. For background information, see the VTA-Sprinter blog. http://vta-sprinter.org/2017/02/01/newhall-yard/

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  7. I agree that Diridon should be the terminus of BART. If reasonable provisions for future extension of BART past Diridon can be made (tail tracks, etc) they should not go in the same direction as Caltrain toward Santa Clara.

    I nominate Stevens Creek Blvd. That corridor is fairly dense and getting denser, and is served by one of the busiest bus lines in the VTA network. West of Santana Row etc, the corridor is wide enough to where an elevated line would be appropriate. El Camino would be another possibility but that's a lot closer to Caltrain.

    This suggestion also does not foreclose on BART Ring-the-Bay. This would, of course, not be a short-term plan, but for some hypothetical future where Caltrain is busting at the seams. The key point is that any future extensions of BART shouldn't exactly duplicate the route of Caltrain, just like how BART does not duplicate Caltrain for most of its route either. Short stretches of duplication would be OK where necessary, but the whole Caltrain Right-of-Way should be reserved for Caltrain.

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    1. BART Ring-the-Bay is an intoxicating and corrosive idea that should be abandoned once and for all. If it helps get out of that parochial mindset, merge Caltrain into BART, paint the electric trains blue, and there's your damn BART Ring-the-Bay! (humble opinion, respectfully submitted)

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    2. Do you suppose that, in an alternative reality where San Jose BART was never started, that a 'Caltrain Ring-the-Bay' where Caltrain was through-run under San Jose and then back out along the Milpeditas Sub or the Ex WP would have made more sense? (not that either makes sense on it's one

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    3. At this stage, no; however, I can see such an idea being feasible in a hypothetical scenario where BART was never built. It would probably look similar to BART (which, outside of San Francisco and Oakland, functions as commuter rail), with lines similar to the Richmond, Dublin/Pleasanton, and San Jose branches. Additionally, a Caltrain line would run to Downtown San Francisco, and possibly a North Bay line like originally planned for BART. The three East Bay lines would likely all stop at a Downtown Oakland station before crossing the Bay Bridge or a newly-built bridge (more likely than tunneling). They would all meet at a Downtown San Francisco terminus (possibly with some lines running through, such as Caltrain-Richmond or San Jose-North Bay), supplemented by a subway system running only in San Francisco and Oakland and the immediate area. So, yes, it would make sense in this strictly hypothetical scenario. We can dream.

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    4. Here's what could ("could") still be done.

      Dig a huge tunnel from Santa Clara under Diridon and past SJ "City" Hall and on to Berryessa.

      Connect it to the Caltrain tracks in Santa Clara.

      Run Caltrain (all trains, or half of them, or whatever) in that tunnel, terminating at some sort of crazy expensive BART transfer thing somewhere in NE SJ, or even SW Fremont. (Civil work$$$ doing-overs for the win!)

      All problems solved!
      Reduce Caltrain turnback pressure at Diridon as low as you want to go.
      Digging a massive tunnel and pour shitloads of concrete underneath Santa Clara Street in SJ, makes everybody happy! The concrete lobby is the one driving all this, and they'd be rapturous. The SJ micro penis anxiety gang will get to have a yuuuge tunnel, the best tunnel, a big beautiful tunnel, bigger than San Francisco's tunnel, San Jose first.

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    5. Are you referring to something like the E-BART transfer station?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRpz-mntDdk&feature=youtu.be

      Makes perfect sense to me.

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  8. If you're looking for land for a Caltrain maintenance facility near Blossom Hill, there's not much open land nearby, but plenty of it past there, near Metcalf Road for example. This is roughly three miles past Blossom Hill, so how about combining the Maintenance Facility with a Park and Ride station there? You'd need a new interchange on Highway 101 at Metcalf Road to provide access. This would capture any riders who choose to drive up from Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Salinas, Monterey, etc. These areas are probably diffuse and/or distant enough so that extending electrification all the way there isn't a priority right now. But when taken together, they do add up to hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom need regular access to jobs and amenities on the Peninsula, and many of whom would probably drive to a frequent electrified Caltrain service which would be much more useful than it is now, rendering existing park-and-ride facilities at Blossom Hill inadequate.

    To me it seems like this might be pretty popular, but is that really the case? Are dedicated park-and-ride stations always just a waste of space and money?

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    1. There doesn't seem to be a lot of space immediately around Metcalf Road, but I think the field just a little bit south bordered by Old Monterey Road, Bailey Avenue, and Santa Teresa Boulevard (http://bit.ly/2kuoIeo) would be a good location. There's plenty of space, it's adjacent to the right of way without any road crossings, and it's not *too* far from Blossom Hill. If you wanted to put a park-and-ride station there, riders could use the 101 exit at Bailey Ave. I'm not totally sure that people past Morgan Hill would use this, but if they put the maintenance facility here then it wouldn't cost much more to put a station there at the same time.

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    2. Yes, that would be a perfectly acceptable spot. A bit further out so you have an extra mile and a half of track you have to electrify. But, plenty of land: the tracks are straight, and there is an existing interchange with the 101, and an existing overpass over Old Monterey Road and the RR tracks.

      The primary catchment area would be Morgan Hill but it probably would attract riders from elsewhere as well.

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  9. @Clem, since there will be HSR viaducts south of Tamien, is it possible to move Caltrain operations and stations to the HSR viaduct? The electrification infrastructure would be shared with HSR, and necessary modification to the viaducts, such as station footings and gradings, and passing tracks, can be incorporated into the viaduct design. This also remove UP dependencies south of Tamien.

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  10. HSRA is stil studying an at-grade Diridon alternative.

    Passing tracks on the viaduct sounds like a lot of "ka-ching!" to me.

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    1. I sure hope they continue to study it very closely. Shifting tracks and platforms around, and possibly even moving the existing station building, ought to be on the table if they need a larger footprint.

      Here's the thing: if they want to plan this to last a hundred years, they need to do it on the ground. The proposed elevated infrastructure, no matter how much "visual design guideline" lipstick you put on it, is still a pig, and won't ever last a hundred years because my grandchildren's generation will eventually conclude that it is an city-blighting eyesore and needs to come down, like the Embarcadero Freeway in SF or the Central Artery in Boston. The elevated solutions won't last a century for that reason alone.

      There's room.

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  11. What San Jose's new transit hub wasn't Dirdon Station. By removing SR-87 through downtown, a new HSR/Caltrain route could be built along its footprint and a lot of land could be opened for development. It would mean BART would have an even shorter route, and the tunnel could emerge just south of San Carlos St., where there is land for the probably unnecessary train yard and potential for westward extension. I made a map of this which can be viewed here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1i7hrayABTs1kjyfwvkTWaL6oULU&ll=37.33508032240421%2C-121.90137374074641&z=15

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  12. It's not reasonable to take out 87. It's a brand new freeway and carries huge volumes of traffic. The BART alignment you show is interesting though. There's a lot of merit to extending BART down San Carlos/Stevens Creek instead of to Santa Clara. Unfortunately the current alignment is too far along to be changed. The best you can hope is that they truncate it at Diridon as suggested above.

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    1. Add a few lanes to the 101 an/or 880 then. The 87 takes a lot of very valuable land that could be put to better use. Also the new HSR route would probably save more time than improving any of the curves on the Peninsula, not that that shouldn't also happen.

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    2. Another option would be to make that section of 87 an at-grade boulevard, similar to what San Francisco did with Octavia. The traffic impact would be negligible, and the removal of the on-ramps and frontage raods would free up space for new development and train tracks.

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  13. I agree with Clem that a grotesque elevated will likely be hated by future generations who never were asked about it nor made any money off of it. Let me cite the example in the "old country" aka Akron where they are currently tearing out an inner belt freeway of relatively recent vintage. Why they are doing this in a place quite poor, with a stagnant economy and with lots of room is inscrutable. And a build freeways mentality still pervades Ohio. So there exists the phenomenon of just tearing things down to do something.

    OT in a way but the overweening issue with Peninsula rail transit in actuality(French sense of right now)is whether the Donald will understand anything about the CAHSR war with the San Joaquin Valley and why Caltrain electrification is such a good idea and will pay for itself. One can only hope he will fund the project straightaway as a strictly urban transit scheme ala BART and figure out another and better way to screw with Jerry Brown and his Legacy. My wild idea would be to deny any access to the Angeles National Forest for any test drilling unless they re-study Tejon, which AFAIK does not appreciably cross any significant national forest land.

    I am synonymouse.

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    1. As long as the people asking for the money (in this case, the PCJPB) don't piss him off they'll get the money.

      Particularly, they'll probably want to inform him that Caltrain's actual security is handled by three Sheriffs departments and (on occasion) UP's security. The latter are infamous in local activist circles for their heavy-handed response of the 2014 Capitol Corridor closure (which featured the same type of people who were running around Berkeley last week).

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  14. I don't think HSR is ever going to be completed. Perhaps they can cobble together enough money to run Bart to Diridon. No way will there will be enough money to run Bart to Santa Clara.

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