Connect Sunnyhills to the BART/LRT/transit center
The Sunnyhills neighborhood of Milpitas is over 3 miles from the
Milpitas BART station, so most folks will drive their cars to use BART and LRT.
Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association (SNA) supports a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) feeder between Sunnyhills and the BART/LRT/transit
center that serves the entire community.
The distance between the Milpitas and Warm Springs BART stations, nearly three times the average, makes access more difficult
for Sunnyhills residents and others living near the County line.
SNA calls upon the City of Milpitas to study the costs and benefits of a PRT
feeder in comparison to current transportation solutions (e.g. structured parking garages,
bus service and extra Calaveras Blvd. overpass lanes).
Some of the facts that bring us to this position:
- 7 miles between Montague and Warm Springs BART stations - triple the average distance between stations.
- The planned Milpitas BART station will be a regional transit hub connecting with LRT and buses.
- An Automated Transit Network (ATN) or PRT feeder/distributor system would include stations within 1/2 mile of an
estimated 70% of Milpitas residents, and provide needed transportation options to many transit-dependent groups (roughly 1/3 of residents).
- As of 2013, PRT technology has been in public use for two years at Heathrow Airport and Masdar City (Abu Dhabi),
and was demonstrated in the prototypes and test tracks of two other leading PRT companies.
- A "ferry" crossing as proposed is well within the technical capability of PRT.
- A citywide PRT network could reduce by 10% the amount of driving in Milpitas, and reduce our CO2 emissions by
approximately 30,000 MTCO2e annually.
What is PRT?
- Cabs (right) are small, light-weight, and electric powered. Each cab accomodates 1 to 4 people and travels 20-40 mph.
Computer-controlled operation provides 24/7 service and safety.
Click here for a 30-second video of Skyweb Express (pictured).
- Guideways (left), with a diameter of only 3 feet, can be routed through small spaces
and even into buildings. Support posts rise every 60-90 feet from a 2 ft2 footprint.
- Stations (right) are 1) small, 2) spaced about 1/2 mile apart, and 3) off the main line so cabs can proceed non-stop
to their destinations. Stations may be elevated, at ground level, or even inside buildings; elevated stations include elevators that cost about $60,000 each).
Stations include cameras for security and storage for idle cabs.
Click here for a 3-minute video introduction to PRT technology.
A cost-conscious and effective government considers financial benefits (revenue and savings) that accrue to City
coffers and to the Milpitas economy. The following assumes a
citywide PRT system would capture 10% of trips. Potential savings of a $120M PRT feeder linking Sunnyhills and the Montague BART station:
- $66M - resident fuel savings of $13.3M/year for 5 years if 10% of VMT (vehicle miles travelled) by Milpitas residents were
captured by ATN.
According to Table A-3: BAU Forecast Indicators (page A-5 in Appendix A) of the 2013
Climate Action Plan,
annual VMT by Milpitas residents in 2005 was 697,265,000. Using a fleet average mileage for passenger vehicles of
21 miles per gallon (Page 3 of
Climate Change Draft Scoping Plan: Measure Documentation Supplement)
yields an annual consumption of 33,203,095 gallons of gasoline. 10% of that at $4/gallon = $13,281,238.
- $1M - 1% increase in property values due to improved transit generates 1% increased annual property tax revenues to
the City (for 5 years) (2010/2011 total Milpitas property tax revenue = $16.6M)
- $1M - 5% reduction in street maintenance costs due to reduced traffic ($200K/year for 5 years) (137 miles of street)
$1M - increased tourism revenue at PRT "attraction" ($200K/year for 5 years)
- $9M - eliminate the need for a bike/ped crossing of Montague Expressway (BART/Great Mall)
- $9M - eliminate a bike/ped crossing of Montague Expressway (BART/new school)
- $5M - eliminate a bike/ped crossing of the railroad tracks at Yosemite/Curtis
- $5M - eliminate a bike/ped crossing of railroad tracks from Piper housing developments to the Great Mall
- $3M - delay for 10 years expansion of Calaveras crossing of the railroad tracks (5% of project cost)
- $2M - delay for 10 years the Montague/Great Mall urban interchange (5% of project cost)
- $xM - reduce the amount of VTA Outreach service in the area (for 5 years)
- $xM - reduce amount of structured parking required in Midtown and Transit Areas ($30,000/space x 100 = $3M)
- $xM - rental for utility space (e.g. telecommunications) within guideways
- $xM - value of public health/safety benefits (see below)
- $xM - value of advertising potential from "wraps" on cabs
- $xM - value of jobs created
- up to $51M - reduce bus service in Milpitas for 5 years (3.8% of annual $270M VTA budget)
Total of expected savings = $50M to $120M City's 20% cost of $120M ATN = $24M
[If a minimal system with small stations and few cabs is built, the overall cost could be only $60M.]
[Savings will be slightly offset by Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the system, which typically costs 3% to 5% in the transit industry.
O&M for PRT should be lower than normal because typical transit systems spend 70% on labor - which is vastly reduced when using automated transit.]
Additional benefits of a citywide PRT network that are difficult to quantify and/or monetize include:
- more economic and energy security due to less dependence on foreign oil imports;
- better public health due to cleaner air and fewer pedestrian/cyclist injuries;
- more effective use of public transportation dollars (Dr. Lowson says that fuel costs
per passenger are lower for autos than for trains or buses when you take the costs of wasted capacity into account.)
- calmer, quieter neighborhoods due to less automobile traffic noise;
- prestige value to the City for being first in nation to build PRT;
- less fuel consumption and time wasted due to less freeway/roadway congestion;
- better individual health and time efficiency by avoiding stress of traffic while gaining time to rest,
cell-phone, text, read, think, etc. (The Texas Transportation Institute uses $12.00 per hour as the cost of time wasted in traffic.)
- more efficient use of highly valuable weekday noon-time travel.
(For a $60K/year worker, lunchtime is valued at $60/hr.)*
* This lunch-time figure follows from the transportation literature:
- Value of time while at work is gross hourly salary.
- Value of time while commuting to work is 1/2 to 1/3 of hourly salary.
- Lunchtime is a special, short chunk of free time, so is considered highly valuable, double hourly salary.
- Time appears to pass 3 times more slowly than real-time time when waiting under conditions of uncertainty,
such as waiting for a bus without a tracking display. This is one of the reasons why people complain about transit transfers.
Thus, for a $60K/year worker who works 2000 hours/yr, gross hourly salary is $30/hr. Commuting time is valued at $15 to $10/hr. Lunchtime is valued
at $60/hr. This is one of the reasons why no shuttle bus systems from workplaces to retail locations have worked well.
The perceived penalty versus driving is too high. With a population and congestion that doubles during the day, PRT offers
Milpitas employers and employees a prime opportunity to capture noon-time savings.
Possible Routing of Citywide PRT Network
The map above and the potential stations and routing below are simply offered to start the
discussion of routing and stops for an PRT feeder loop in Milpitas:
- Milpitas BART/LRT/bus station
- Yosemite/Curtis overcrossing of the railroad/BART tracks
- Yosemite Drive and S. Park Victoria Drive
- Sports Center, Cardoza Park, Calaveras Hills High School
- Jacklin Road and N. Park Victoria Drive
- Pomeroy School/Russel School/MHS
- corner of Dixon Landing Road and Hetch-Hetchy linear park (near Conway Street)
- corner of Dixon Landing Road and Milpitas Boulevard
- corner of Dixon Landing Road and Milmont Drive
- Hall Memorial Park (to serve Curtner School and the creekside trail users)
- Library/Medical Center
- two Midtown Area stations to support development that's less auto-centric
- City Hall/Community Center/Senior Center/Town Center
- Escuela Parkway and Tramway Drive
- and 5 other stations (total = 20 stations and 10 miles of guideway)
- from the Milpitas BART station, go north along the BART right-of-way to Yosemite Drive
- east along Yosemite to S. Park Victoria Drive
- north along Park Victoria Drive to Jacklin Road
- east along Jacklin Road to Escuela Parkway
- north along Escuela Parkway and the Hetch-Hetchy right-of-way to Dixon Landing Road
- west along Dixon to California Circle
- south along California Circle and Penitencia Creek to Weller and Main
- south along Main to the Great Mall LRT Station
- southeast along Great Mall Parkway/Capital Avenue to the Milpitas BART station
- inner loop connector running south from Jacklin Road along Escuela Parkway and Milpitas Boulevard to Calaveras Boulevard,
and then west to Park Victoria
- bi-directional connector on Calaveras Boulevard between Main Street and Milpitas Boulevard
When making choices, it's wise to balance three or more values rather than focus on a single value (e.g. money).
For example, we could consider Economics, Environment, and Service Level:
PRT construction costs = $10-40M/mile (bi-directional)
LRT construction costs = $50-120M/mile
BART construction costs = $200-400M/mile
PRT operating subsidy = 0-10%
BART operating subsidy = 40%
LRT operating subsidy = 85%
PRT requires less energy per passenger mile than cars, buses, LRT and BART.
PRT disrupts less land and requires fewer resources to construct than LRT and BART.
PRT vehicles cause less noise than other transportation vehicles.
As the only technology claiming to reduce the amount of SOV driving, PRT offers the best hope for less congestion and CO2 emissions.
PRT = automated transit available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week with maximum 3-minute wait time at station
BART = 19 hours per day, wait time varies
LRT = hourly service depends upon funding, wait time varies
PRT = non-stop, private transit elevated above roadways
LRT = many stops en route and subject to delays
BART = stops en route along exclusive right-of-way
Average speeds: PRT = 25-70mph, BART = 43mph, LRT = 16mph
As a new technology unsupported by current funding sources, we may need new sources to fund construction costs.
PRT requires more reliance upon advanced technologies like computers, chips, telecomm, reliable power, etc.
Being a private space, PRT cabs may attract riders interested in sleeping, making out, using drugs, sheltering from the weather, etc.
PRT is a new technology, so it makes sense to "learn as we go" by starting small.
A minimal system of two stations with a loop connecting them can ferry people and their stuff safely and
conveniently over one of the many barriers in Milpitas. Such a "smart ferry" will allow us to evaluate PRT
technology before extending service. In early 2013, the City Council added a crossing of the railroad tracks to the General Plan.
A PRT pilot project connecting Yosemite and Curtis near the Great Mall will cost $3 million,
only 60% the cost of a standard steel-and-concrete pedestrian bridge. For details, visit
You Can Help
As the next step toward such a PRT "ferry", SNA is seeking to kick-start the project by financing the City's portion of
the $50,000 Environmental Impact Report (EIR). We only need $10,000 (20%) due to progressive transportation funding rules.
When SNA gathers $10,000, we will work with the City to secure the remaining funding and generate an EIR. After the EIR is
written and approved, engineering and construction could follow.
Funding is expected from contributions (individual , business, and cities), grants from foundations, and maybe from U.S.
transportation agencies. SNA will act as escrow agent until the full $10,000 is secured.
Questions can be answered by SNA Secretary, Rob Means (408-262-8975, SNA@electric-bikes.com).
Spread the word with this flyer,
and make contributions (minimum $20) payable to:
Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association, P. O. Box 360581, Milpitas, CA 95036-0581
(Please indicate whether you want to remain anonymous or have your name/organization
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