What we’ve done, and what’s ahead, for better transportation in Silicon Valley

Chris Lepe Headshot

Yesterday was a big day.

After many months of organizing, speaking with community members, gathering data, meeting with decision-makers, collaborating with partners, and working around the clock, yesterday marked the end of the public comment period for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit project along El Camino Real.

Now the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will return to their Draft Environmental Impact Report (released in October) to make tweaks and improvements before producing their final plan. This final plan will determine the future of the project, and is heavily influenced by the feedback, comments, and perspectives of community members like you who weighed in to support BRT on El Camino Real. 

Together, our coalition has accomplished so much together over the past four months:

  • We organized two different forums that brought together residents, local businesses, and community groups in Sunnyvale and Mountain View that generated lively discussions on the benefits of BRT. 
  • 130 people sent emails and letters to the VTA and City Councilmembers in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Los Altos, and San Jose. In these emails, people had the chance to directly tell decision makers all of the reasons why BRT is needed along El Camino Real. It’s no surprise that the issue of traffic came up several times, like in this letter from a Palo Alto resident:
    “Traffic is the monster that is crippling all of our other attempts to improve and preserve our community. The BRT offers an excellent chance [for] people to get out of their cars and travel in another safer manner.”
  • Several supporters wrote letters to the editors of some of the region’s biggest newspapers – and even got published! In her letter, Sunnyvale resident Janani Dhinakaran lamented how the dangerous conditions of El Camino Real limit the options that she (and others) have to get around:
    "I live on El Camino Real and use it to get to work, the library, shops, etc. Being environmentally conscious, I would like to be able to bike to destinations in short distances but Google itself doesn't recommend riding a bike on ECR due to safety. The proposal of a dedicated bus lane with travel time competitive with driving sounds appealing to me and I can speak for many others who are similarly environmentally conscious to say so.”
  • People showed up to their City Council meetings to submit roughly 250 comment cards, ready to voice their opinions in-person. This diverse representation of Silicon Valley's population, particularly young people and people of color, was critical!
  • After talking with over fifty residents who live along El Camino Real, we found out just how much better and safer public transportation options matter to people living in the area.
  • We teamed up with organizations like CA Walks and Greenbelt Alliance to show people how BRT is a catalyst for making the region a more desirable place to live, and how the project would make the corridor dramatically safer for people walking and biking.
  • We collected over 500 petitions in support of BRT!

But our work is not over.

People in Silicon Valley need and deserve better transportation choices. As a region famous for innovation, Silicon Valley has an incredible opportunity with BRT to improve how people get around, so that everyone has a chance to get ahead. A BRT system with dedicated bus lanes would alleviate the region’s terrible traffic, make the streets safer for people walking and biking, increase opportunities for people who rely on public transportation, and improve the quality of life for everyone who lives, works, and commutes along the corridor.

We’ll keep you updated on ways that you can support bringing BRT to Silicon Valley as VTA continues the planning process. Thank you for taking action and making your voice heard!

For more information or to get involved, please contact me.

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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.