The traffic and transportation study will probably contain details about the shuttles that will take fans from either the current Fremont BART station or a future Warm Springs (South Fremont) BART station to Cisco Field. In an effort to provide a preview of this, this post speculates a bit on what the shuttles could look like.
The red, green, and blue lines represent potential routes from the existing Fremont BART station. The dotted yellow line shows routes from Warm Springs BART. The pink dotted line represents routes from the future Capitol Corridor/ACE station as well as the possible remote parking lot. At first glance it doesn't appear that the nearby lots (blue and yellow "P"), which are less than 1/2 mile from the ballpark, would have shuttle service.
This is where it gets tricky. Let's go with Keith Wolff's estimate that 5,000 people would either take transit or walk from the nearby village. How many would come from the village itself? 1,000? 2,000? I seriously doubt that more than 1,000 residents would go to the ballpark. The number of workers from the nearby area that could walk to the ballpark might number in the hundreds at best. So let's assume that 4,000 would come from transit.
Since there would be no direct BART or rail service to the ballpark, all transit riders would be coming via some kind of bus, big or small. So the question is, how many buses will it take? Going from what's in AC Transit's fleet, here's what they'll need:
- 40 articulated (60' long) buses: 63 seated, 40 standees -or-
- 60 regular (40') buses: 40 seated, 30 standees -or-
- 200 mini or shuttle buses: 20 seated, 0 standees
This is where our oft-neglected friend the train comes in. While Capitol Corridor won't bring fans the last mile (literally), CC trains can bridge much of the 5 mile gap. They can also overcome some major challenges. A train shuttle running from the Union City Intermodal Station would reduce the need for those 40-100 bus shuttles from Fremont BART. It would also service Union City and Fremont by default, plus a new station along the Newark section of the route could service Newark residents. Most importantly, the remaining shuttle traffic would be largely confined to the Pacific Commons area (the pink dotted line), with few shuttles crossing 880. Shorter shuttle routes translate greater efficiency and lower operating costs. The trip from Union City to Pacific Commons could run around 15 minutes - not as good as BART but better than a bus. Capitol Corridor officials had indicated in the past that they aren't set up to run a shuttle like this, but some creative scheduling can allow this service to be folded into their expanding schedule. Additional trains between Fremont and San Jose will soon be feasible with the completion of several already underway track improvement projects.
Now, on to the dotted yellow line. A study was undertaken in 2001 to determine ways to better move traffic between 880 and 680 during the commute hours. Two identified methods would immediately impact fans traveling between the proposed Warm Springs BART station and Pacific Commons.
Alternative A1 involves the widening of Auto Mall Parkway to 6 lanes east of 880. That alone should make things easier, but two other measures should be taken to mitigate traffic. First, it appears that the parking area located closest to Cisco Field will be largely VIP parking. That alone will reduce the number of cars making left turns from Auto Mall to Christy St. Rules can be established that limit left turns there to VIP parking passes and shuttle buses. Second, since Joe Fan won't get to park that close to the park, he may be forced to use the lot across Auto Mall from Pacific Commons (the uppermost "P" above). It would behoove the A's to build a pedestrian overpass over Auto Mall Parkway. A full lot there would equate to over 5,000 fans walking from the lot. Not putting in an overpass would be borderline irresponsible, as Auto Mall Parkway is 9 lanes wide in this area and only one side has a usable crosswalk. The best thing to do would be to build the overpass and stick some flexible electronic signage on it. The signage can direct traffic on event days. It can also show advertising on other days/hours.
Alternative B1 adds HOV lanes on Fremont Blvd and Grimmer Blvd between 880 and 680. If implemented, it would allow a natural route (the longer southerly dotted line) with built-in bus/carpool lanes.
I'm certain that with the direct discussions the A's have had with all of the area transit agencies, they can come up with more creative methods of serving the A's fanbase. The solutions described above are but a handful that can help bring fans to Cisco Field without huge capital expenditures while leveraging without taxing existing infrastructure.