13 April 2006

Let's talk transit

The typical questions I'm getting now are "Where is the site?" and "How far is it from BART?" I've put together a couple of photos that give a pretty good representation.

First up is wide view of central and south Fremont. The yellow line represents the planned Warm Springs extension. The extension would run 5.4 miles, south from the existing Fremont terminus to Warm Springs. There is also an optional station that could be built in Irvington, roughly halfway between the two ends.

The aerial distance between Warm Springs BART and the Pacific Commons eastern boundary is 1.25 miles. Driving distance is 2.25 miles because there is no straight-line route. The next picture shows potential routes, yellow representing a bus/car route and pink an elevated guideway route for a BART, people mover, light rail, monorail, or aerial tram.

Now let's look at possible infill transit options. The assessment of positives and negatives is based on data I've seen for other transit projects and should be judged as speculative since there are no formally studied cost estimates. It also assumes that the Warm Springs Extension will be built, which is no certainty yet. BART could be extended west to the Pacific Commons site, but it could cost at least $200 million per mile. Because of the cost I will leave a BART extension off the list of solutions in the poll.
  • Light Rail (LRT) could run on either surface streets in the area or on an elevated guideway to the area. Cost: $40-70 million per mile. Estimated one-way trip time from WSX BART: 5-7 minutes.

    Positives: Use of existing street infrastructure, familiarity, proven technology.

    Negatives: If street-based, would be the slowest system due to train sharing the road with cars. Some impact on businesses in affected area as roads are fitted with rails.

  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) are buses an "express" variant of the a bus route, with high-tech features (GPS) and fewer stops. Cost: $5-10 million per mile. This would involve separate lanes for buses either along the median or along the curb. Estimated one-way trip time from WSX BART: 8-10 minutes.

    Positives: Usually will bypass unnecessary stops. Can use existing bus fleets if necessary. Traffic signals can be programmed to detect buses and let them through. Lower infrastructure costs than rail or dedicated guideway options.

    Negatives: May not elicit the same kind of public response as a solution with a dedicated guideway. Shares roads with other traffic.

  • Shuttle bus. Cost: unknown. This option would probably use as much existing infrastructure as possible without building new infrastructure. Estimated one-way trip time from WSX BART: 10-12 minutes.

    Positives: Lowest startup and capital costs. Can accommodate the most stops. Can use existing bus stock, though new buses may need to be ordered as new routes are added. Buses can be easily added to accommodate demand.

    Negatives: Lesser public perception of buses when compared to rail-based service. Can add to short-term congestion before and after games.

  • People movers are used throughout the US in airports for inter-terminal automated transportation. Cost: $30-60 million per mile. Estimated one-way trip time from WSX BART: 5-7 minutes.

    Positives: Less required right-of-way than BART. Lower construction costs when compared to other elevated guideway systems. Often fully automated. Can operate on high frequency headways.

    Negatives: Requires dedicated guideway which may be expensive.

  • Aerial tramway (gondola) Cost: $40-70 million per mile. A project is underway in Portland, OR to ferry passengers between two sites using such as system. Estimated one-way trip time from WSX BART: 5-8 minutes.

    Positives: Possibly lower right-of-way and construction costs than rail options. Less environmental impact than other options. Could have lower maintenance costs. May become a tourist attraction on its own.

    Negatives: May hold an image as less safe than other options because the Bay Area is Earthquake country. Not a mainstream technology that immediately comes to mind as a mass transit solution.

  • Personal or Group Rapid Transit (PRT/GRT). Cost: $30-60 million per mile. PRT uses numerous small, 4-8 person cabs on an elevated guideway. GRT uses larger cars that can hold 30 or more. Can run fully automated. Estimated one-way trip time from WSX BART: 5-7 minutes.

    Positives: Good on-demand potential. Supporters tout low startup costs.

    Negatives: May not be suited for event-based, high-demand usage such as baseball games. Not a widely deployed solution.

For now I've ruled out a pedestrian bridge option because of the 1.25-mile distance between WSX BART and Pacific Commons. The Warm Springs extension could open as early as 2012 should funding materialize. If this funding does not come through, or if the San Jose extension is not funded, the only solution for BART riders would be a bus that runs from the Fremont station. The trip would take 20 minutes. BART carries 15-20% of A's fans on any given game date. I have not included a monorail in this discussion for the time being because its benefits and costs are covered by other options like the people mover.


Ken Arneson said...

What about trams? If you've ever parked at Disneyland in those huge garages, they seem to work pretty well to move a large number of people back and forth. The distance they cover is probably about the same, too.

I'm guessing they're cheaper to operate than buses, but I could be wrong. I guess you'd need a dedicated roadway, for safety reasons, and that could add to the costs.

Regardless, climbing onto a tram is certainly a more pleasant experience than getting crammed into a bus.

Also, if the BART station doesn't get built, what are the odds of getting an Amtrak station nearby? They could run a train down from Oakland for games.

Marine Layer said...

I'm pretty sure that the Disneyland trams aren't properly street legal. They're fine within the Disneyland complex because they'll never go more than 15 mph, but on a regular city street they can't be the safest thing on the road.

The Amtrak/ACE station will be nice, but I wouldn't expect a really high ridership potential. Maybe at most 5% when coming from north and south, more likely 1-2%. Regular commuter rail simply isn't very convenient.

jrbh said...

This is apropos of nothing, but it's the kind of thing I love: the University of Hawai'i-Hilo just finished it's season-opening 40-game homestand. They'll finish the season with three in Honolulu and five in the Dallas area.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Lew won't do the deal without some sort of transit. It will make it more convienant for me if he does that way I still only have to drive to Pleasanton, but I will still go to the games either way.

Fremont resident said...

I wouldn't count on Warm Springs BART any time soon. Maybe never. They've got some funding problems that don't look solvable.

So that leaves Fremont BART and the Auto Mall ACE/Amtrak station.

From Fremont BART, that's probably some mix of shuttle/express/rapid buses.

Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains are growing to an hourly service. They already promote service to A's games with the existing service:

By the time the stadium is built, all the Capitols should be running from Sac to SJ, while currently some only run Sac to Oak.

Another option is extending Caltrain Baby Bullet service up the East Bay from San Jose to Union City or Oakland, with a stop at Auto Mall. That could be comparable to their current Giants service. BART riders could transfer at Coliseum or Union City.

Or just run Caltrain from San Jose to Auto Mall for South Bay riders, while BART riders take the shuttle/express/rapid bus from Fremont BART.

Anonymous said...

I would be more open to Amtrak but it's to expensive for my taste. I would be taking it now to A's games but the fare for Modesto and back runs like $80

Anonymous said...

And that price is for 2 people

Fremont resident said...

If you're coming from Modesto, that's the San Joaquin line, not the Capitol Corridor. The Cap Cor has several discount options, such as 10-ride tickets, but I'm not sure about the San Joaquin.

Do you drive to Dublin BART, or all the way to Oakland?

Anonymous said...

I drive to Dublin Bart (usually about 45 minute drive from my home in Oakdale). $6 roundtrip on Bart the rest of the way

Anonymous said...

Wow, ML! You've certainly done your homework. One thing that strikes me, looking at the map, is that it's almost a straight shot from the corner of S. Grimmer/Osgood, where the new Warm Springs station will be built, to the stadium. I could envision a monorail system connecting the two (and hopefully extending a few thousand feet to the Pacific Commons retail center).

Wolff seems like a pretty smart guy to me, and I tend to believe he wouldn't do something of this scale without (a) some assurances that the WSX will probably happen and (2) a solid plan to move people quickly and efficiently between BART/ACE transportation and the stadium.

One thing that I remember at the old USAIR Arean in suburban Washington DC is that they had an on/off-ramp from the beltway to the arena, dedicated solely to the arena accessible only during event times. I wonder if that might be in the works.

Marine Layer said...

The funding problems can be solved. These days everything takes creativity, whether it's a ballpark or transportation. Supervisor Haggerty seems to think it'll happen.

I'm amazed at how static the collective mindset is in the Bay Area. We should all understand perfectly how rapidly things change here.

Kenny said...

What about a series of moving sidewalks on an elevated walkway, like a BART Bridge 2.0 or something out of an airport?

Anonymous said...

and it could "mist" you on hot days like at theme parks

Kenny said...

Also, having light rail run on city streets is an improbability. The Muni example is wierd because Muni and many older transit systems in America inheirited the old streetcar networks. New light rail networks would be mostly grade separated from city streets like the VTA system.

Zonis said...

People Movers looks like the best idea to me.

I like the Tram idea. I think it would be a HUGE quirk for the park and would definently attract people just for itself. Its those quirks that set ballparks (and cities) apart, and draw people in and make it memorable. But they are DAMN noisy, so I am not sure if the residents and businesses would like it. Of course, I am comparing it to the trams in West Virginia which seem to have been there since before I was born, so maybe they've improved it, but...

I have a simple question though. Instead of an extension from Fremont to Warm Springs, why not just scrap Warm Springs all together and send Bart directly to the stadium at Pacific Commons, like we have with the Coliseum right now? That seems to be the most sensable, and cost efficient.

jrbh said...

There isn't anything more difficult or expensive to do in public life than create mass transit systems and solutions.

None of the ideas marine had are going to get dime one from Wolff, both because he doesn't take money out of his pocket for *anything*, and because they're completely beyond his means, or the means of anyone not named Bill Gates.

Under no circumstances can Fremont or Alameda County afford any of those systems, and under no circumstances would voters approve money for them. BART's extension, which isn't even terribly good as a solution, is iffy at best at this point.

The only semi-plausible solution here is busses: busses that cost money, and busses that are going to require long, slow painful lines after games and long, slow trips, surface-street trips to BART. Bay Area residents will tolerate them for about a month, and then we'll have a stadium situation exactly like that in Anaheim, or Candlestick Park, which, A's fans have apparently forgotten, was loathed partly because it was impossible to get there without a massive hassle.

I'll just be frank: I don't see how anyone can consider themselves a good citizen of the Bay Area, or the least bit environmentally sensitive, and support the Pacific Commons plan. It's the kind of greedy, insensitive crap that the managing partner of the Texas Rangers had in mind when he put together The Ballpark in Arlington.

Marine Layer said...

I'm not going to say this connector would be a dealbreaker, but someone will have to pick up the cost of whatever solution comes. I doubt the EIR really goes forward without this being addressed - if it isn't, I'll be the first guy to rail against it - and I happen to work 5 minutes away in a place where I wouldn't be impacted by the traffic.

Let's put BART in perspective. In SF half of all attendees take one of the forms of available mass transit to a game in China Basin. At Oakland, BART covers 15-20%. That's as little as 2,500 on poor attendance nights, as much as 10,000 on high attendance nights. Over the course of a year, that's less than half the trips taken on the AirBART bus connector. I and many others are fully aware of the potential transportation problems the Fremont site poses. We're not going to sit idle while the development goes forward without a solution.

jrbh, with that stance you can't possibly like the O29 development. A bunch of 7 to 12-story buildings, the public being shortchanged on open space, no infrastructure improvements.

Marine Layer said...

I like the aerial tram idea too, but from what I've read it's not meant for the infrequent, high-capacity travel that a ballpark would entail: 3000-6000 riders per hour. Then again, maybe there's technology that'll make it work.

The moving walkway isn't feasible because the distance is too long even if multiple walkways were used. As someone who's worked with companies that make escalators and moving walkways, I can say that it isn't a good idea, especially outdoors.

I've inquired with a local company about the people mover idea. I'm going to also compare it with the Oakland Airport Connector proposal.

Fremont resident said...

"The [BART Warm Springs] funding problems can be solved. These days everything takes creativity, whether it's a ballpark or transportation. Supervisor Haggerty seems to think it'll happen."

The funding for Warm Springs has been iffy from the start. We're talking a project of nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars. 2000 Measure B (Alameda County) has about $165 million, but that money has a stipulation that BART connect to Santa Clara County. We could fill a whole 'nother blog talking about the financial mess the BART-San Jose extension is in.

Another chunk of Warm Springs funding was supposed to be the operating *profits* from the BART SFO extension. The SFO ain't running a profit anytime soon, to put it mildly.

The original plan was to avoid federal funding for Warm Springs because that would trigger a whole bunch of new requirements, especially cost/benefit measurements that they know they can't meet. But they're so short of funds that they have to now do the extra studies and try to get federal funding, even though it's certainly futile for all the reasons they didn't want to try in the first place.

So BART to Warm Springs is doomed to be planned forever, but never built. Unless some other source of hundreds of millions of dollars suddenly shows up. To extend BART within a single city.

Meanwhile, Livermore still wants its BART extension. Haggerty is a proponent of that So Warm Springs has to compete with an existing BART district city that has no station. (Danville doesn't have a BART station either, but so far they haven't figured out they've been "cheated" like Livermore has.) Livermore has no money, either. So that makes two BART extensions that will be planned forever but never built.

So unless Wolff has an extra half billion dollars to spend on Warm Springs, it's safe to assume that it's not going to get built.

Jeff said...


That's more than a little harsh. Are you seriously questioning the morality of people who support the Pacific Commons site? Look, the team is most likely leaving the Oakland area. Their departure is the result of a confluence of several factors. Not the least of which is a lack of resolve on the part of city leaders to keep the team. Now I know that in perfect world, they would be happy to keep the team in Oakland. But it is a very simplistic and self serving point of view when the advocates of Oakland state that they want the team but are unwilling to bear a significant financial burden in order to make that a reality. Wolfe and company spent 180 million dollars for the team. That is a significant amount of money. They have the absolute right to pursue the highest return possible on their investment. They do not owe, nor is Oakland entitled to a MLB franchise. Why is it that so many Oakland advocates seem to feel that they have a right to dictate to the owners that they have a social duty to build the park in Oakland, and what's more, they will be responsible for all costs associated with that endeavor? But in no circumstances is it acceptable for them to relocate the team to suit their financial needs outside of Oakland.

I empathize with the fans in Oakland. I really do. But at the end of the day I am an A's fan.....not an Oakland fan. I take care not to denigrate the city, but the truth is that Oakland is perceived as a crime ridden cesspool by most people outside the area. Hell, even by some people in the area. Some of the city's reputation is deserved, some of it isn't. But it is what it is. I will support the team if they move to SJ, Fremont, Alameda, and if they remain in Oakland. But I must tell you, implying character deficiencies in folks who don't agree with you is not an effective method in convincing people of the validity of your position.

Marine Layer said...

The key to the WSX BART funding is that $145 million shortfall from San Mateo County. So who's going to pay for it? Santa Clara County, should the June tax hike pass. That should essentially end the ill-advised decoupling of the WSX and Santa Clara County projects that was done, ironically, so that they'd have a better chance to work financially and politically.

Anonymous said...

It boils down to Racism when people say Oakland is a "crime infested cesspool".

Jeff said...

No, it doesn't. For a host of reasons. None of which would influence your thinking. Make a note of the word perception.

Anonymous said...

I think talks of "racism" and perceptions of Oakland is out of the topic. We're talking about transportation here. African-Americans dominate Oakland's population as they did back in 1968 when the A's moved here. So I wouldn't say racism should be considered a factor in baseball. After all this thread is about baseball and not racism. Let's keep the whole race card thing out of the discussion because this blog is "new A's ballpark" and nothing more.

Jeff said...

True enough, perceptions of Oakland have more to do with marketing than transportation. The insinuations from "anonymous" ticked me off. Enough.

jrbh said...

You'd "rail" against it, marine? ;)

Jeff, I meant what I said to be harsh. It's simply indefensible to plan a large, heavily used stadium in the Bay Area without access to reasonable public transit. Creating the transit that would be required is going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions. And it would be a public subsidy for a project that simply isn't on the radar otherwise, with public funds that could be used much more sensibly.

So if you're asking me if I think the A's should stay in the Bay Area at a public cost of, say, $750 million, my answer is no. They can get the hell out if that's what they want.

What Wolff is doing is putting together a project that's going to make him a lot of money, and it's going to make his partners a lot of money, and it's going to make the star players -- not the ordinary players, or the minor leaguers, but the stars -- on the A's a lot of money, and everyone else is going to be left with a great big, steaming pile of, well, you can guess what that pile is. It's not something you usually see on light rail.*

*except in New York

Anonymous said...

JRBH and others have made it quite clear that they wish the A's to remain in Oakland and will no longer support them if they move to Fremont. Therefore, their opinions about transit or any other aspect of the new stadium can no longer be taken seriously or objectively.

In short, they've become what's known in the blogoshere as "trolls" and would best serve themselves and the rest of us by no longer posting here

tony d. said...

Perhaps you could enlighten us on current "suburban/non-downtown" ballparks around the country (Ballpark at Arlington, Miller Park, Dodger Stadium), and how they deal with getting people to/from their stadiums.

jrbh said...

Gutsy move being nasty anonymously. Now *that's* being a troll.

So you're saying that unless one supports the A's, one can't criticize the Fremont plan? Man, there's a job waiting for you in the Bush Administration.

(OK, now *that* was nasty. I apologize. Kind of.)

jrbh said...

I've actually been to all three parks you mentioned, tony d.

Dodger Stadium provides an excellent analogy to the situation in Fremont; is isn't quite in a suburban setting, but it does lack any kind of public transportation access except by bus, and it's right near a conjunction of heavily used freeways. As a result, traffic in and out of the place is absolutely brutal, and it's the reason Dodger fans are so famous for arriving in the third and leaving in the seventh.

Miller Park and Rip-You-Off-And-Steal-Your-House Park in Arlington are in suburban settings, again with no public transportation. I had trouble getting to Miller Park both times I went to games there. There's basically only one road in and out, and it and the parking lot were unpleasantly backed up even though attendance in both games I went to was under 25,000.

My only trip to Arlington, I stayed at a hotel within walking distance of the ballpark, but we did drive around quite a bit, including one trip back to the hotel an hour before a game, and freeway access was good that time and there was a ton of parking.

Anonymous said...

It's just that you're choosing to find fault with every single aspect of the Fremont stadium. And you've already said that you'll be "attending games in San Francisco while reading your comments on your laptop"

In other words, I think you need to move on and leave this discussion to those that are serious about it.

jrbh said...

I've criticized two particular aspects of the ballpark that I know about: it's going to come with a sharp increase in ticket prices, and the proposed site is in a place that's quite bad in transportation terms.

I don't think either of these objections are disputable among reasonable people, although of course it's possible that people may choose to give them a different weight than I do.

(This is seperate from more general objections that Wolff lied to or misled people about his intentions vis. Oakland.)

What I've been saying is that my ardor for the A's has been diminished by the catastrophe of the Wolff Administration following on the heels of the equally disasterous Schott Administration, and that a move to Fremont would completely snuff it out.

This does not disqualify me from talking about this stuff, and shame on you for suggesting that it does. I also must be having some reading problems in my old age, because I completely missed your apology for saying I was a "troll." My bad.

Marine Layer said...

The references to current politics, or the intermingling of politics, is unsavory. Want to root for a team with an owner more in keeping with your views, jrbh? Be a Red Sox fan. Fans can't choose their owners. Let's just leave it at that.

The Dodgers, Brewers, and Rangers ballpark environments are perfect examples of how not to develop a ballpark.

Dodger Stadium is the result of an ugly eminent domain play and LA car culture. Yet in the baseball world it's considered a gem. Not much karma there, eh? Frank McCourt's going to develop some of the hillsides and make some money off the project as well.

The Brewers decided early on that they wanted to keep the tailgating culture intact. Now they have a ballpark surrounded by a sea of parking. There is a single special event bus route that takes fans in from downtown, IIRC. It's what would happen in Fremont should no one step with a good transportation solution.

The Rangers are a different story altogether. Arlington, TX still remains the largest city in America without a public transportation system. And they approved a sales tax hike for the new Cowboys stadium to boot. I've heard horror stories about the awful tourist trolley that runs between the hotels in Arlington. It's the nadir of planning.

In the end we as fans have to choose. Do we want a team that can stay financially competitive? How much of the fan culture and legacy do we want to keep intact? What really defines a good family experience? And how can the A's creatively put together solutions that will benefit as many different demographic groups as possible? There are no easy answers.

jonclaude4 said...

Good a time as any to say thanks for the great transit info.

With the A's back in town, I'll have a chance to stop by Auto Mall Pkwy myself and take a look. The area around Auto Mall Pkwy has developed alot since the dragster race days.

Good maps...thanks ML.

peanut gallery said...

Didn't LA build a new trolly line to Dodger Stadium? I believe it is the blue line.

jrbh - I agree that transit is critical and must be solved. That is a valid criticism of the Fremont site. The cost of tickets is going to increase no matter where they build the new stadium, even the Coliseum parking lot. That's the name of the game: separating us from our money. If you're fundamentally against the increasing cost of attending sporting events, the professional level just isn't for you. It's unfortunate, but it's the way it is until we collectively stop supporting them. There is nothing unique to Fremont about the certain increase in ticket prices if they build there.

Jeff said...

Based on what I have read it seems that Wolfe has public transportation in mind. But he appears to be focusing on future infrastructure, not necessarily was is already in place. Perhaps he is speculating on knowledge that is not readily available to the public.

The real issue comes down to the available space to build a ballpark. That appears to be the biggest perk that Fremont has going for it. And if one is being reasonable it is apparent that the conditions exist in Fremont to meet public transportation requirements. The potential is there, even if the specific details are not all that clear.

I am interested in the Disney style tram option. Those things are very efficient for moving large amounts of people short distances. Wouldn't a dedicated "track" be a relatively cheap option? Would it be feasable to build a dedicated track which drops fans off at the entrance to the "village", thereby enticing them to visit the shops on their way to the park?

jrbh said...

Wolff, as far as I know, is a Democrat. The guy I said was Bush-like was some anonymous hit-and-run artist on this site, not Wolff.

The only MLB owner whose politics I can really get behind is Peter Angelos, but he's godawful at running a baseball team. I'd rather have someone like Finley, who I presume was a Republican but knew what he was doing baseball-wise.

accountablevta said...

The problem is that essentially none of the proposals to connect the stadium with a proposed BART station in Warm Springs is feasible. In order to obtain funds to build anyone of them, the connection must also provide transportation benefits other than on game days. Unfortunately, the area doesn't appear to have the same type of high density, multi-use development as you can expect in San Francisco.

Transit connection works best when a stadium is placed along a rail line. Although a bus shuttle is feasible from an operating perspective, it would require very high operating subsidy and/or suffer from low ridership. Service to special events is very expensive, since drivers have to be paid at a over-time rate. High fares are generally charged to partially cover the operating expense. However, for a one or two mile shuttle trip to a rail station, passengers would not be willing to pay a $10 roundtrip shuttle fare, in addition to the rail fare.

Look at the transit service to 49ers games, Muni, SamTrans, and VTA all provide long distance express bus services at premium fares. Caltrain is a mile away from the Candlestick Park but no bus shuttle is available. Only a small number of passengers take Caltrain to the Bayshore station and walk to the park. On the other hand, Caltrain provides special service/arrangement to Giants and Sharks Games.

Although rail connection is available on the ACE line, the track owner Union Pacific has the reputation to be unfriendly to passenger rail, which adds difficulty to provide special train service to the game.

trestaylor said...

How does the proposed Dumbarton Rail Corridor project play into this? My understanding is that it would connect the existing Caltrain line in Redwood City with the Union City Intermodal Station (and BART), as well as potentially providing additional tracks for freight use.

How far away is the ACE/Amtrak track from the Pacific Commons site? If it's within shouting distance this could do a couple of things: 1) Help with the transportation issue in the East Bay and 2)Provide access for A's fans living in both San Mateo and northern Santa Clara counties(no territorial rights required!).

Marine Layer said...

VTAWatch guy - I'm glad you chimed in. I'll pose a hypothetical and you can take it apart.

I've read that the Sharks Shuttle costs about $120K per year to run. SVS+E and VTA split the cost. The differences between the Sharks shuttle and what would occur in Pacific Commons:

1. Shuttle route that is double the length
2. Double the number of games (81 vs. 41)
3. 3X-6X the ridership (3000-6000)

So if all those above points are factored in, it would cost in the neighborhood of $2 million per year, or $5 per rider. Is that a reasonable extrapolation?

The $5 figure has come up before. When no federal funding materialized last summer for the OAK connector, there was grumbling about a one-way trip costing $5.

I've made that walk from Bayshore station to the 'Stick on a few occasions. I doubt many made that trek at night.

I doubt that any Caltrain service comes south from the Dumbarton. Unless there's some unknown demand I'm not aware of. The best hope for that is for the High Speed Rail initiative to pass. That would allow for acquisition of land for new passenger rail including HSR. I like the idea of HSR, but I'm not very optimistic about its chances right now.

trestaylor said...

The reason that I brought up the Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project has to do with a couple of different things:

-It is a solution that connects existing BART infrastructure with existing rail structure and is currently 90% funded. (my source for this info is

- If Caltrain will work, it addresses the very valid arguments that accountablevta makes around the notion that rail is a powerful transportation vehicle.

- The time line works in the short term and eliminates the dependencies around BART extension or HSR projects.

ML- as an aside: I love this site. Your coverage and viewpoints on this subject absolutely rock!

The Cactus Leaguer said...

You mentioned light rail but not a streetcar/trolley, which, from I can see, looks like the best option assuming that the Warm Springs extension gets done. A streetcar/trolley would be cheaper, more flexible (able to make sharper turns than light rail), and it could be set up to spur economic development all up and down the route (raising property values all along the way and possibly using residents and businesses along the way to help pay for it).

Zonis said...

I still want to know why BART couldn't just be made to go directly to the Pacific Commons site, and not Warm Springs.

Marine Layer said...

zonis - There's nothing to stop BART from physically moving to Pacific Commons if the money was there. Unfortunately, it's not. It's not even there right now for the WSX extension.

To make a PacCom extension happen, a decision would have to be made about the route. Would PacCom be a regular stop or a limited/special stop? When I asked BART spokesperson Linton Johnson about putting in a new station for the Coliseum North plan. He said that the cost would depend on whether the station were an online (regular) or offline (limited) stop. Now I've also heard that BART currently doesn't have to ability to provide limited service like that, so maybe that factors in. Would the route be a spur or a loop? Lastly, how does it fit in with the San Jose extension? WSX is really just a precursor to the SJ extension being built. The SJ route can't be modified because VTA is buying an old rail line that it will use for the route.

Once the route is figured out, someone will have to acquire all of the necessary land to build the elevated guideway. Some of the land in the area is already city-owned, but most of the land isn't. How much will that cost? The station will cost $50 million by itself, so that gets tacked on.

Put all of that together, and the total starts to approach the cost of the ballpark. Who's going to pay for that? One thing I worry about is that Wolff may, once he really gets talks going with Fremont and Alameda County, will place a demand on a transportation solution. Whatever the solution is, it will cost money. Lots of it.

TCL - A streetcar won't work here because of the NUMMI plant. Tearing up half of the major streets in the area to accommodate a streetcar would not go over well with NUMMI, which uses those same streets to route their car carriers and trucks. If it's a rail solution, it's grade-separated or bust.

accountablevta said...

The problem with building a BART station to the Pacific Commons is that there's no feasible routing, and nearly impossible to justify capital and operating costs.

A line there would cost at least $300 million or even half a billion. The demand for transit would be almost zero other than at games times. Ballpark is one of those sites that the demand for transportation is extremely seasonal and time specific, compared to airports, where transportation is needed almost 24 hours everyday of the year.

In San Jose, the free Sharks shuttle is provided partly to encourage fans to patronize restaurants and bars in downtown San Jose before heading to the game, which helps the sponsor of the service to justify its cost. Unfortunately the Warms Springs area doesn't have the similar environment.

Now VTA is providing special light rail service at the end of the game at the San Fernando Station (a short walk away from the Shark Tank) to take the crowd home at night.

Your rough estimate sounds about right about the cost of the bus service. I am not too sure about the ridership. I believe that the mode split for transit would be less for the Pacific Commons site.

Anonymous said...

I think busses to and from park/bart is fine until something can be done.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand is that Wolfe is planning to build a Ballpark Village; not just a Ballpark. Fremont's very own Santana Row, am I correct? They would be bringing in stores and restaurants that would attract not just Baseball Fans, but create an atmosphere like San Jose's Santana Row to attract people in the off season. Maybe have concerts and other events out in Cisco Field. Now that said a Pacific Commons BART station would be an online (regular) station that BART can benefit from.