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  • 3/21 Menlo Park Almanac
    Published Wednesday, March 21, 2007, by the Menlo Park Almanac Guest opinion Flawed thinking on both sides of Caltrain debate By Martin Engel The recently
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 21, 2007
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      Published Wednesday, March 21, 2007, by the Menlo Park Almanac

      Guest opinion

      Flawed thinking on both sides of Caltrain debate

      By Martin Engel

      The recently formed Council for Expanding Train Service (CETS) is a
      group of current and prior council members from cities in San Mateo
      County who want Caltrain to re-open closed rail stations and add
      service to several others.

      They want more trains and want them to stop at more communities up
      and down the Caltrain line. Some of the group's members believe that
      more trains will justify building transit-oriented housing.

      It is an argument that Caltrain rebuffs, citing the deficit spending
      required to keep the trains running. Caltrain officials believe that
      faster trains that make fewer stops will encourage more riders to use
      the service.

      There has been a flurry of correspondence between Caltrain and the
      council group that has become acrimonious and contentious. Each side
      wants something different. Unfortunately, what each wants is the
      wrong thing.

      The council members want more trains to stop and Caltrain wants more
      bells and whistles on its hardware and on its rail corridor; that is,
      they want to electrify, buy new rolling stock, add tracks and grade
      separations, and accommodate a high-speed train. Both sides are
      demanding more trees, so to speak, but neither is able to see the

      If CETS got what it is asking for, it wouldn't be what we all need,
      and that is an integrated, multi-modal, comprehensive urban mass
      transit system. If Caltrain received all its hardware upgrades, it
      still would not become part of the mass transit system that the
      Bay Area is longing for. Both sides should be working together to
      achieve a mass transit system that has the following characteristics:

      * It would be multi-modal, using a variety of people-moving
      technologies, including buses (with rapid bus lanes), light rail,
      DMUs (hybrid-diesel multi-unit self-motorized train cars), bicycles,
      and yes, private cars.

      * It would make it possible for any rider to go from point to point,
      i.e., from home doorway to place of work, recreation or shopping.

      * It would be as fast or faster than driving from home to work, door
      to door. This also means very short stopover times between modes and
      frequent run times.

      * It would be convenient -- clean, attractive, comfortable, safe,
      child- and mom-friendly, and easy to use.

      * It would be available throughout the Bay Area, so that a rider
      could get from anyplace to anyplace else.

      In my opinion, all of these attributes should be included in the
      agendas of CETS and Caltrain. Caltrain, BART and VTA are no longer
      speaking to each other, when instead they should be collaborating,
      operating an attractive public transit system that will "pull" more
      people out of their cars, not "push" them with empty rhetoric.

      Martin Engel lives on Stone Pine Lane in Menlo Park.

      [BATN: See also:

      Menlo Park TOD near Caltrain subject of referendum campaign

      Menlo Park train NIMBY calls for inexpensive Caltrain fencing

      Letter: NIMBY train foe hints Caltrain plot behind fencing gaps

      Letter: NIMBY wise-ass proposes "best ideas" for Caltrain

      Letters: Caltrain should skip Atherton; NIMBY derailment fears

      Letter: Menlo Park Caltrain grade separations not needed
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/20573 ]
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