Car-Sharing and Parent Carpooling
There’s no question that our current regional public transit system is inadequate and flawed. With all of the money we’ve invested in our public transit infrastructure, we’ve seen ridership go down – to 4% countywide and 2.3% in Cupertino. Santa Clara County VTA’s fare recovery is one of the lowest in the world, at only 9%. This means ticket sales account for 9% of VTA’s budget and the remaining 91% is subsidized by the county taxpayers. (Compare this to San Francisco BART, whose fare recovery is 70%)
We need to be innovative in helping solve our traffic problems and provide effective, multi-modal alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. My first priority as your Councilwoman, is to expand car sharing and carpooling options to reduce the number of cars on the road. One car-sharing vehicle replaces 9 to 13 vehicles in traffic. A recent forward-looking MIT study concluded that replacing normal cars with self-driving shared vehicles could cut the number of vehicles on the road in half.
The City can require parking spaces for car sharing vehicles and can also require that employers incentivize employees to travel to work by bicycle, on foot, via public transportation, car-share, or in a carpool. For example, when the Apple 2 Campus was approved, the City required that at least 34% of the employees arrive to work without their own car.
Parent carpooling mobile app programs allow school parents to easily organize carpools among one another. An inexpensive Parent Carpooling pilot program at Cupertino High School in partnership with the City of Cupertino is projected to reduce the number of cars on the road during pick-up and drop-off hours. The time parents save instead of suffering through school traffic is valuable.
Alternative Transit Options
Cupertino Commissioners and Staff have been studying the feasibility of a city-wide community shuttle for several years now. While we can’t operate as a silo if we want to solve our traffic problems, a city-wide shuttle is an interim course of action we can take to help provide students, store patrons, residents etc. with a public transit option. This shuttle would stop along our major transit corridors near congested areas, and could even connect us to a nearby Caltrain Station. Other jurisdictions have successfully implemented fare-free city-wide shuttles (Mountain View, Palo Alto, Emeryville etc.) through a Transportation Management Association (TMA) model that is funded by commercial property owners in the community; this in-turn attracts patrons to local business.
As your Councilmember, I will work with businesses, merchants, and community members alike to incentivize these and other solutions to mitigate traffic impacts.
Effective Public Transit
Only 4% of residents countywide use public transit. VTA reached a budget deficit of $20 millions this fiscal year, projected to rise to $26 million by next year.
Public transit should have geographical coverage near jobs and frequent service and, as a City, we must recognize that we already have sufficient density to expect effective public transit. Leveraging regional, state and federal funding sources can help facilitate the development of public transportation in Cupertino and, as your Councilmember, I'll be a strong voice at Valley Transit Authority (VTA) among the North County and West Valley cities, prioritizing transit options that will increase ridership. While I support VTA's current study of a Rapid Bus or Light Rail system in dedicated lanes on highway 85, we need to be forward-thinking in our approach and be sure that the public transit options we invest in will actually be utilized.
I support Council’s previous attempts to secure proceeds from large technology companies for the purpose of funding new transportation initiatives and the newly-instated City Traffic-Impact Fee. Cupertino has made a long-term investment in these companies, and surely they can afford to help mitigate the impacts caused by thousands of their employees who utilize our roads and transportation resources. Companies that have already made strides in relieving traffic congestion in the City by, for instance, offering a private shuttle for employees or paying development-related traffic-impact fees should, thus, be asked to contribute less toward our City’s infrastructure.