More advocacy for BART Around The Bay as posted on the Menlo Park Atherton Patch December 05 2013.
We all in the Bay Area really need to start soon planning-to-build 15 year process to replace Caltrain with BART around the whole bay, one-seat, no, or few, transfers, elevated, trench or tunnel as each city decides with BART (like Fremont did under Lake Elizabeth). BART is already electrified with frequent, safer service to Millbrae and is planned to Santa Clara University station. That leaves only 21 miles to go to finally close the B.A.R.T. goal--while significantly increasing BART capacity in time for its new cars. Yes, expensive, but how much are all these lives worth?
Since I started the Caltrain trackway death count, by the BANG/SJMN reports, as of 1/1/2013 201 dead, about 12-16 per year. Totally predictable now, especially with the really deadly Express Trains (appropriately named Mini-Bullet Caltrains). That means another 180-300 predictable dead in the next 15-20 years, about half likely (too easy) suicides that torment Caltrain employees, emergency workers, witnesses, families, friends, and, cause hours of delays and lousy train reliability. BART is already built, electrified, grade-separated (by law) and frequent for the 15 miles from Millbrae to SF--and connects seamlessly to East Bay and soon South Bay cities, educational institutions, shopping centers, airports, etc, so why electrify and grade-separate that same 15 miles, when the monies ought to be used to plan and built extending BART to reduce the remaining 21 miles that have few grade-separations and are not electrified--and congest over 100,000 cars per day, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Each Caltrain track death should remind us of this opportunity to tie the Bay Area together with one two track, efficient, dual directional, high-capacity arterial rail system that reduces these horrible deaths, delays and survivor trauma while improving transit capacity and usage integration into and with our Peninsula cities' future growth plans that neither roads nor Caltrain can absorb.
The recent Cal (UCB)Bears and Stanford Cardinals game points out how much more effective and efficient BART would be if it extended around the Bay. Travelers from around the Bay (even to Orinda, Lafayette, Pittsburg, Dublin) to the Big Game would have only to board at the station nearest their route in the Bay Area (and further out, Central Valley, Sacramento, points East and North, and in the future, South and elsewhere on the Peninsula) have an easy BART ride without the congestion on the roads, or, by the current Caltrain street intersections' congestion.
After the game, freeway accidents occurred on both I-80 Berkeley as well as US 101 Palo Alto causing even more congestion. BART's reach around the Bay would alleviate that.
To get over Caltrain, we need to overcome/enlighten Gov Jerry Brown (JB), Sierra Club, and the rail 'foamer" (most all Democrat) politicians that Caltrain's standard track width is not sufficient to continue or morph the track into HSR track, as JB recently acknowledged was Caltrain's 30-year long goal since his previous term. So many deaths, for so long, only for political purposes, and not to innovate to more modern, proven, safer, ecofriendly rail transit of BART which is so available to extend, if we only focus on it. Also, the Dumbarton Caltrain Rail is no longer needed over the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge, since BART Around The Bay (my blog, too) touches all the same cities. That $1Billion can be used for closing the 21 mile BART gap, too, rather than create another at-grade deadly, congesting Caltrain branch. Spread the word to others about this 'no-brainer' safer solution. Thanks.