Transit question in the Pacific TV video stream below starts 1:24:21 at the October 3 Pacifica Environmental Families Candidate Forum, Pacifica City Council Chambers.
Lightly Edited Candidate Transcript
Cindy Abbot, Moderator, Board President, Pacifica Environmental Family
Bringing more people into Pacifica may require addressing the traffic problem. How might this best be approached and tying into that is a question of providing opportunities to get people out of cars and using public transit, helps preserve the environment. SamTrans has proposed a limited stop hourly route from Daly City BART in Half Moon Bay if they can fund it. Do you think we should do that? And if they should how would you work with our sister cities on the coast to get more public transportation and SamTrans funding?
I would have to look at the the numbers. We need to start thinking about transportation in a different way and these big huge lumbering buses with two people on them in an inefficient system. It doesn’t seem to be working for me. I mean for our city and I think it’s because our city is very unique we have one corridor and people want to get up to the BART so to me it would be the most efficient to devise something that could get people up to the BART. I have a Skyway dream that seems far-fetched but when I mentioned it to somebody that was from Europe she said Oh a city in Europe did that. They they literally, like the New York City subway is under the ground they literally put their transportation up above the ground and it’s a fun idea, because you would be travelling around and anyway I won’t get into that just one of my fantasy is that we would rethink being on the ground all the time. I read a book it was called the fifth sacred thing. It’s an incredibly good book and I recommend it to everybody. It’s about a future in the Bay Area and that’s where I got the idea they use gondolas to get around San Francisco I would love to see people get out of their cars and bike but what one of the one of the things that I think that would fix the transportation problem better than anything else is if people lived close to where they worked and if every school in Pacifica was the best school that could be in Pacifica and that children didn’t have to go out of their neighborhood it would save a lot of traffic it’s very simple suggestion.
I think I’ll start with traffic. I know that a lot of the traffic in the morning is school based and then I think if we could revise how we look at neighborhood schools maybe we could get some more young people actually walking to school and taking the bus to school maybe some school based transportation programs would be very helpful for that and like I already mentioned before I am currently working with the Transportation Equity Allied Movement Coalition and so working regionally to bring in transportation dollars to our city, it’s very important. There is a ballot measure coming up in November. It is by no means a perfect measure but it is a beginning to take a look at the things that can happen through transportation dollars and there are some core principles in the measure. The reduction of vehicle miles traveled and sanitized transit and bicycle and pedestrian and ride share options. if I think through through working through this coalition what I have learned is that we have to start somewhere and so by having relationships with SamTrans I think that’s the best place to start.
As people have been displaced ridership has been displaced so in order to up the ridership on public transportation we actually have to have housing available. Transit oriented affordable housing so that people who actually ride the bus can live here and ride the bus.
I agree with that. I would wholeheartedly support a Daly City BART to Half Moon Bay shuttle. I think it’s absolutely essential in the schools. I work for the school district, full disclosure, so I happen to know a lot about it but I’m also a little defensive when it comes up in regard to “the schools cause all the traffic.” Our school district our enrollment has declined very significantly over time for not for the least of which reasons we’ve been discussing in terms of cost of housing etc., but I want to say that there is work being done with a program called Safe Routes to School (SR2S). It’s a grant funded program through the partnership with the Transportation Authority. I think in the County Office of Ed. And so there’s inroads being made with students it takes time to educate students and families. The more that we can improve our biking paths the more we can ride to school, even schools that aren’t right in our neighborhood, because for many many families the school they go to is not in their neighborhood. We used to have 15 schools. We have six. Our town is the same size that it ever was. People are spread out and so the notion that we need to make every school in Pacifica the best school it can be I’m here to tell you they already are they are the best schools they can be and people are drawn to them and want to go. We are a district of choice. So people want to go to Ocean Shore School when they live in
Linda MAR. It’s their choice to do that. People want to send their child to IBL Middle School because it’s a purpose-built middle school and not necessarily go to Cabrillo where I work which is a K-8 school. So it’s an issue that we need to address but it isn’t something that the schools are going to be able to shoulder completely.
Adonica Porter Shaw
So transportation, have a few ideas. The first would be to issue or to cap the number of cars that we have going to the high schools. When I was in high school the only way to get a parking permit, to even bring a car to campus and that you had to have a GPA over a certain like 3.0. I live on Terra Nova and I have to tell you it’s terrible in the morning when I’m trying to get my kids out to school. One goes to Vallemar one goes to Cabrillo and between trying to get them out the door and dealing with the traffic that’s coming down the street. Parking all the way up the street it creates an additional traffic jam in the back of the valley and some of those back streets. I think the community could advocate from more spare the air days where we encourage local businesses to have their employees walk or take some type of an alternative transportation method to their job. I am a fan of the program or the opportunity that’s proposed from Sam rans but I would be more for a green shuttle that particularly just went to BART maybe to Serra Monte and through parts of Pacifica. I think going all the way down to Half Moon Bay is going to make that route even longer and I think it needs to be very efficient. In terms of what I would do to get it to fruition, would be to work with local elected officials over here and in Daly City and then also on a countywide basis to see if there’s a way to support funding for one or two shuttles as well as for the employee salary that it would require to operate those shuttles. On a more frequent basis for people that live throughout the community.
So I’m not going to tell you that traffic problem is gonna get better and that SamTrans is going to be the answer to anything because it’s not what they’ve done. What they propose to do is add one Express bus to BART one route in the morning and one in the evening in addition to something like the three that they already have in the morning in the evening and they’re going to extend it from Colma BART to Daly City BART. With regard to Half Moon Bay I think they’re going to add one run down to Half Moon Bay that’s a separate route and this is all part of the half cent sales tax that is on the ballot in November. I think you know the traffic problem may get better in the future when we have self-driving cars and particularly small self-driving buses and if those buses could be operated by private companies rather than SamTrans, which is just horrible. You know there’s some possibilities there. A self-driving bus that can go around the neighborhood you know two and make three or four different stops like a van, make three or four different stops and then take off to their destination wherever it may be over the hill or in San Francisco or whatever. That technology is is five or ten years down the down the line. Until then I think we’re just stuck.
Transit Commentary from Candidates not Present
If they can fund it I think we should do (SamTrans Half Moon Bay to Colma) it. The more public transportation we can have in Pacifica the better. SamTrans is also looking at improving the Park N Ride in Linda Mar to possibly include bike locations. I do think the city should invest in returning our shuttle service that the Business Improvement District (BID) had paid for; for many years. (These are the local hotels in Pacifica) When the city ran out of money and could no longer afford the shuttle the new plan I was involved with was to work with Half Moon Bays new shuttle service and connect the two. This would have brought visitors from Half Moon Bay to Pacifica and visa-versa. During this same time period Skyline College introduced a new free shuttle for students and visitors that comes and goes directly to the Bart Station as well. I think Pacifica should work with Skyline College and maybe for a nominal fee that shuttle could also come to Pacifica. The shuttle holds 28 people and I saw it on Skyline just the other day. There could be a very convenient stop at the top of Manor. Sam Trans is owned by the county. So I would work with our local government to in order to seek funds in conjunction with our sister cities so that transportation is improved along our adjoining communities. In working with our sister cities we could review local concerns and jointly present them to Sam Trams with a proposed solution that could possibly resolve multiple issues with one sensible solution.
Caltrans has projections that traffic will increase for the next several years at about 5% a year. With the funds returned for adding an ingress and egress lan to the highway returned by a 3 to 2 vote. Any major renovations to the highway is at least 20 years away when we may get the funding approved.. Any study of alternatives at this time would be questionable as the funding would not be available.
SamTrans running buses is a challenge due to a chronic lack of riders and the fact at peak times the bus can only due one run into San Francisco or to a BART Station. There are a couple of programs encouraging car pooling which in the short term is the best option. Long term weaning people out of their cars is a huge challenge given work locations and hours people have.
To be perfectly honest I cannot think of the perfect locally funded solution to the traffic issues facing Pacifica and Coastal San Mateo. It requires a regional solution. If we can make Eureka Square a Priority Development Area (PDA) that would increase density and make the option of Sam Trans buses a more likely option.