Transit ridership has been steeply down with many people traveling less in the pandemic. There are opportunities to make transit better to bring riders back and ensure that transit can thrive in the future. VTA has a FAST Transit program looking at options to speed transit.
For this week’s SFMTA board meeting, the agency posted slides proposing to increase San Francisco’s current 43-ish miles of transit priority lanes with 70 more miles! And they want to do it fast, as pilot projects (white paint only), while there’s an emergency declaration. When the emergency period is over, these lanes can be evaluated, outreach can happen, and fuller projects can be made permanent (like adding red paint, considering stop spacing, bus bulbs, boarding islands, etc.)
According to VTA, the declining transit speeds cost almost $70M just to operate the same service levels that we had in 1990. VTA is spending more money to provide less service. If transit speeds are improved, residents will be able to get from point A to point B faster, and VTA can use the money they save to improve transit frequency and provide service to areas that currently lack access to transit.
VTA is being much more cautious – one of step VTA is considering is to have countywide signal preemption throughout the county. Signal preemption would significantly increase transit speed and make transit more competitive with driving. Unlike Muni which works in one city, though, VTA works in many cities and county areas that control signals and right of way and will need agreement from the County and all the cities.
If you want to see VTA moving forward to speed buses and light rail, sign this petition to urge VTA, the Cities in Santa Clara County, and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to take action to make fast transit a reality in Santa Clara County.