Impact of Proposed BRT System

vta

The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has proposed and is in the process of gaining approval for a Bus Rapid Transit system that will run along El Camino Real.  The proposed project is located along a 17.4-mile portion of the El Camino Real, running from the HP Pavilion in San Jose to the Palo Alto Transit Center.  The primary project focus is a system where one lane in each direction of El Camino Real would become dedicated bus-only lanes starting at Lafayette St. and extending through Santa Clara.  VTA has presented a total of five alternatives for the BRT system, but this is the one that appears to be the primary focus.

In response to the VTA proposal for the BRT system, the Chamber surveyed our membership to find out what they thought of the proposal.  In addition to surveying our membership electronically, we also met with member businesses along the El Camino Real corridor that would be directly impacted by the proposed system.    

Here are some comments and concerns that businesses shared with us:

  • Less drive by traffic.
  • Lack of left turn lanes could/would discourage people from patronizing my business as it would affect ease of access.
  • We rely on street parking at our busy times. The street is too congested NOW. Congestion will make it worse.
  • The BRT project doesn’t make sense as VTA is consistently towards the bottom of all ridership categories.  Losing an additional lane of traffic on El Camino will further impact existing freeways already spilling over.  VTA bus service is an inexpensive alternative to them extending rail service or working with BART/High Speed rail to build the infrastructure of the future here in the Bay Area.
  • Since my business is not located along the El Camino, it will not impact my business, but it will impact my decisions about shopping or using other businesses when I am in Santa Clara.
  • I believe this will vastly increase car traffic and will discourage people from coming out to our restaurant.
  • We rely on customers from the El Camino Route. If these businesses are impacted it will create a ripple effect on our business.
  • Dangerous for handicapped and seniors – having to walk across a car lane to get to the dedicated bus lane.
  • We don’t need it; we need small jitney buses traveling in multiple directions – we don’t live and work linear. 

The Chamber is opposed to the BRT for the above reasons in addition to the fact that not all cities along the El Camino Real are supportive of the project (Santa Clara City Council voted to support the project while the Sunnyvale City Council opposed it) and there is a potential loss of sales tax revenues from these businesses along El Camino Real which will impact the City’s General Fund. The Chamber has sent a letter to the City Council asking for a reconsideration of their vote on the project, asking them to choose the “No Build” or “Mixed Flow Only” option.  The Chamber also encourages businesses to voice their opinion – if you would like to send a letter to our City Council, there is a sample available on the Chamber’s website, www.santaclarachamber.org/advocacy. Click on the “Take Action” link.  You’ll find a sample letter here as well as a link to our survey.  Working together, we will make Santa Clara a better place to live, work and do business.

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