On Friday, September 21st, VTA’s Board of Directors will hold a workshop to discuss VTA’s Bus Rapid Transit Program. It has been a while since the Board has discussed bus rapid transit and for some new members, this will be the first time they have considered the program. As such, the presentation will begin with a discussion about what BRT is and the policies and Board decisions that have guided the program thus far. The final item the Board will consider is how to proceed with the El Camino Real BRT Project. As with all VTA Board of Directors meetings, members of the public are welcome to attend and comment on agenda items. You can download the Board packet here.
As many readers know, VTA’s original proposal for BRT on El Camino Real—called the “optimal project”—ran into political opposition from some cities along the corridor. The optimal project proposed to convert the two median lanes of El Camino Real into bus-only lanes between Showers Drive in Mountain View and Lafayette Street in Santa Clara. In Palo Alto and San Jose, six travel lanes would remain and the BRT vehicle would operate in the right lane with cars.
While San Jose and Santa Clara unanimously approved the optimal project through city council votes, Sunnyvale’s council opposed the idea of converting a travel lane into a bus-only lane by a 4-3 vote. Palo Alto and Los Altos, while not taking official votes, indicated a preference against bus-only lanes in study sessions. Mountain View’s Council took a straw vote 5-2 in favor of mixed flow.
This brings us to the question of how (or if) VTA should proceed with the project. At the Board workshop, the BRT Project team will present four project alternatives—selected by VTA’s general manager—for the El Camino Real BRT Project and will seek guidance from the Board on which project alternative to pursue. We preview each of the alternatives after the jump.