The VTA Board has received a draft of the “Next Network” which is VTA’s plan to gear the transit network towards serving more riders. The overall strategy is to provide fewer, more direct routes with greater service frequency to make transit more useful to transit riders. Let’s start with route legend:
I read this as:
- Red means convenient transit service (every 15 minutes)
- Orange means convenient and fast (15 minutes, limited stops)
- Blue means there is a bus, but check the schedule …
Here’s the current system map (left) and the draft (right) for the Sunnyvale area:
Some of the changes slated for Sunnyvale:
El Camino Real
Decrease weekday frequency on Route 22; increase frequency on Route 522.
New Rapid Service
- Route 523: North-South from Lockheed Martin via Mathilda / Sunnyvale-Saratoga to De Anza College, then East-West via Steven’s Creek to San Jose: Vallco, Valley Fair, Santana Row, BART.
- Route 23: (Stevens Creek to De Anza) Decrease frequency from 12 to 15 minutes on Route 23; increase frequency on Route 523.
New “Neighborhood Connections”
- Route 20: (Evelyn / Arques to BART) Create new Route 20 that would connect Milpitas BART Station, Mission College, Santa Clara Square, Downtown Sunnyvale and Downtown Mountain View. New Route 20 would provide service to areas currently served during commute periods by parts of Routes 58, 321 and 304.
- Route 21: (Middlefield) Create new Route 21 that would connect Downtown Palo Alto with San Antonio Transit Center, Downtown Mountain View, Downtown Sunnyvale and Santa Clara Caltrain Station. New Route 21 would replace current Routes 32 and 35.
- Route 56: (Wolfe / Fair Oaks) Create new Route 56, which would connect Lockheed Martin Transit Center to Downtown Sunnyvale, Vallco Mall, Downtown Campbell and Winchester Transit Center.
Modify/Remove “Neighborhood Connections”
- Route 26: Split into two separate routes; replaced by Route 56 in Sunnyvale.
- Route 32: Discontinue; replace with new Route 21.
- Route 53: Change routing to serve Vallco Mall and Santa Clara Caltrain Station instead of West Valley College; this change replaces part of current Route 81. Increase frequency on weekdays.
- Route 54: Discontinue Route 54; add more frequent new Rapid 523 service on Mathilda Avenue/De Anza Boulevard corridor.
- Route 55: Change routing between Downtown Sunnyvale and Remington Avenue from Fair Oaks Avenue to Sunnyvale Avenue; decrease weekday peak period frequency and increase Sunday frequency.
- Route 81: Discontinue; replace Moffet Field to De Anza College segment with new Route 51. Replace De Anza College to Santa Clara Caltrain Station segment with revised Route 53.
When the Milpitas BART Station opens and we get our new bus system, Sunnyvale will have some connection to BART:
- The light rail system will be re-aligned so that Mountain View routes to Alum Rock / BART
- Every 30 minutes, route 20 will meander from BART over to Mission College, Sunnyvale Caltrain, then continue down Evelyn to Mountain View Caltrain
- Every 15 minutes, route 60 will connect to San Jose Airport and Santa Clara Caltrain before heading south to Campbell
These changes are a step in the right direction.
I like the frequent light rail connection to BART, and the 523 rapid service.
I would prefer more frequent service in Sunnyvale. (Change some of the blue to red.) Maybe prioritize frequency on lines that can extend the frequent light rail service to BART:
- Route 21 West on Middlefield to Palo Alto
- Route 56 South down Fair Oaks / Wolfe
With the addition of route 523, route 55 south of Sunnyvale Caltrain looks like duplicate service which might be better applied elsewhere.
I’m not sure if Route 20 is such a great BART connection. It might be that despite the transfer, light rail to route 523 would be more convenient to downtown Sunnyvale.
Sunnyvale and Santa Clara are working on a plan to bring in a lot of housing around Lawrence Caltrain station. This new transit-oriented community should have local transit service. It may be that the timeline for this development is such that it would be accommodated in a future round of VTA service adjustments.
Route 21: Middlefield
I really like the idea of a single bus route the length of Middlefield as far as Palo Alto. Running parallel to and more frequently than Caltrain along a well-known corridor, it could reproduce some of the success of the 22. I think it would be better if it continued straight along Middlefield between San Antonio and Moffett:
- The route already provides Caltrain connections at Sunnyvale and Palo Alto
- The detour duplicates Caltrain connections provided by route 44 and employer shuttles
- A straight route would provide service to many apartments, offices, and retail along Middlefield
- A straighter route provides faster service to passengers
- A straighter route is more intuitive to customers
- A simpler route reduces operation costs, making frequent service more feasible
- Route 22 avoids detours to connect to Caltrain, and it is VTA’s most popular line
One potential vision for route 21 is as a frequent route that can extend the frequent service provided by light rail down through the offices and apartments in the North of Mountain View clear to downtown Palo Alto.
VTA will be holding a series of meetings to gather community feedback. Here are a few that will be in the Sunnyvale area:
Wednesday, January 18 at 6pm
Quinlan Community Center, Cupertino Room
10185 N Stelling Rd Cupertino, CA 95014
Thursday, January 19 at 6pm
Palo Alto City Hall, Council Chambers
250 Hamilton Ave Palo Alto, CA 94301
Monday, January 23 at 6pm
Campbell Library, Community Room
77 Harrison Ave Campbell, CA 95008
Monday, February 6 at 6pm
157 Moffett Blvd Mountain View, CA 94043
Public comments on the draft plan will be taken through February 20, 2017 and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.