Comments on Existing Conditions and Opportunities Report

The following comments were submitted via email to the VTA regarding the existing conditions and opportunities of South Bascom Avenue, as outlined in the report found at this link:

http://vtaorgcontent.s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/Site_Content/VTA%20Bascom%20CS%20Study__AttachC_Existing%20Transit%20Condition.pdf

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend tonight’s meeting, so please accept this email as my input to the public record. If there is an answer to my question about utilization below, please include that in the public record.

After reviewing the Transit Conditions Report and Potential Improvements Report, I found a number of good gems including,” Along the entire 5.7 mile long study corridor, the average northbound AM and PM peak period travel speeds are 10.9 MPH and 10.0 MPH respectively, while the average southbound AM and PM peak period travel speeds are 10.4 MPH and 9.1 MPH respectively.”

What I couldn’t find anywhere is the utilization of those buses. For example, how many people are typically on the buses at various times?

Also, the report suggests that bus stops are, on average, 2,500 feet apart.

Given that there are rapid changes in mobility due to sharing, electrification and autonomy,  VTA should be considering those elements as part of the long-term solution for Bascom Avenue.

Navya at CES2018
Navya Robo-Taxi Example at CES2018

For instance, with the addition of smaller autonomous shuttles, such as is being demonstrated currently in Las Vegas and will be in San Jose later this year, the need for stops every 2,500 feet would no longer be necessary, as shuttles could handle the last-mile. This could allow the distance between stops to be extended to a mile or two, greatly reducing the number of stops while increasing the average speed.

As evidence as to why I believe that autonomous shuttles and other forms of alternative transit (e.g. dockless bikes, scooters, etc.) need to be part of the plan for Bascom, here is an interview/article I just published with a representative of transit operator Keolis

http://viodi.com/2018/04/18/autonomous-buses-better-utilization-ces2018/

and a proposal for how the VTA bus network could be reconfigured as the shift to autonomous shuttles becomes real

 


5/11/18 Update

[Note: The VTA responded on 5/11/18 with the following response. The attached draft report they sent is encouraging in terms of how they are looking at technology]

Hello Kyle,
Here are the responses from the project lead of the Bascom Complete Streets Study.

After reviewing the Transit Conditions Report and Potential Improvements Report, I found a number of good gems including,” Along the entire 5.7 mile long study corridor, the average northbound AM and PM peak period travel speeds are 10.9 MPH and 10.0 MPH respectively, while the average southbound AM and PM peak period travel speeds are 10.4 MPH and 9.1 MPH respectively. What I couldn’t find anywhere is the utilization of those buses. For example, how many people are typically on the buses at various times?

Response:
Average weekday ridership for route 61 is 1,562 and average weekday ridership for route 62 is 1,495.

Ken’s Response – Hmmm, how many riders per bus on average?

Also, the report suggests that bus stops are, on average, 2,500 feet apart. Given that there are rapid changes in mobility due to sharing, electrification and autonomy, VTA should be considering those elements as part of the long-term solution for Bascom Avenue. For instance, with the addition of smaller autonomous shuttles, such as is being demonstrated currently in Las Vegas and will be in San Jose later this year, the need for stops every 2,500 feet would no longer be necessary, as shuttles could handle the last-mile. This could allow the distance between stops to be extended to a mile or two, greatly reducing the number of stops while increasing the average speed. As evidence as to why I believe that autonomous shuttles and other forms of alternative transit (e.g. dockless bikes, scooters, etc.) need to be part of the plan for Bascom, here is an interview/article I just published with a representative of transit operator Keolis

Response:
I recommend you read the VTA’s staff recommended policy for automated driving systems. This policy recommendation is going to VTA committees this month (May 2018). Internally, VTA transportation planning staff have been talking about these new technologies for a while.

I like the idea of innovative ways for first-last mile connection to transit as an implementation strategy for this plan.

Note that, in general, improving transit service and transit amenities is not just for congestion relief, it also addresses equity issues regarding access to transportation for seniors, people who can’t drive, people who don’t use technology, etc.

Kind Regards,
VTA Community Outreach
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https://winchesterurbanvillage.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/vta-policy_memo-to-vta-commiteesboard.pdf

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