The Downtown/East Valley (DTEV) corridor, which runs along Alum Rock Ave. and Santa Clara St. between East and Downtown San Jose, has the highest transit ridership in Santa Clara County. In 2000, voters passed Measure A, a transportation sales tax that includes funding for light rail along this corridor. The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is now deciding whether to extend light rail or enhanced bus service through the corridor.
Three of the future bus or light rail transit stations will be located in the Mayfair community, a primarily low income community that is 80% Latino. This new investment creates an incredible opportunity to address broader community concerns of unsafe streets, inadequate services, and the need for additional housing. Without extensive community involvement, however, the DTEV project is destined to remain a simple transit upgrade. This report is the culmination of a 10 month project to involve the Mayfair community in identifying major issues of access and station design, then developing and prioritizing a broad range of solutions. The report uses community input from 483 surveys and three community meetings as well as an analysis of existing plans and census data.
One of the key elements of making the DTEV project a success is ensuring that people can safely walk or bicycle to the stations. Currently, 10 of the 25 most hazardous intersections for pedestrians in the County are located along this corridor and three of the most hazardous intersections are located in the Mayfair community. In 2003, there were 14 collisions between pedestrians and automobiles, and nine collisions with bicycles in the Mayfair community. Not surprisingly then, the vast majority of those surveyed felt that traffic needs to be slowed, and that additional crosswalks, lighting, and bike paths are needed in the community. Additionally, 70% of respondents said they would use a bicycle and pedestrian trail on Silver Creek if it were constructed, reflecting the desire to have safe areas separated from traffic to walk and bike. Finally, 80% responded that they would walk or bike more frequently if improvements were made.
Other ways to improve transit ridership on this project while enhancing the community include; designing the stations in collaboration with the surrounding neighborhoods, placing services that are in great demand near the stations, and encouraging Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) with affordable housing within a half mile of the stations. At the community meetings, residents wanted the stations to have public art, bike lockers, bilingual information, and security features that deter crime. When asked what types of services they would most want to see around stations, 33% of respondents prioritized health-related services, while 26% prioritized educational uses, especially a library or bookstore.
This report lays out in great detail the specific projects that will increase bicycle and pedestrian safety in this corridor, and the amenities and services that community members want at and near the stations. Since these issues of access and design will affect the health of the Mayfair community for the next century, residents and leaders of the Mayfair community need to feel empowered to interact as partners with the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the agency overseeing the project, as well as San Jose city agencies. By working together we will be able to win funding for these improvements and improve the safety, quality-of-life, and access to economic opportunities for the Mayfair community.