There has been much recent discussion about how to improve rail and bus connections in the Southeast Bay. The list below summarizes how things could be put together in a productive way. Absent some semblance of coordination and unity, the “solutions” to complicated networking problems tend to come one by one, often pursuant to ill-considered “bright ideas”, often promoted parochially by inexperienced people with no understanding or interest in the need for regional connections, or by developers and real estate speculators looking for financial gain. Piecemeal approaches to transportation infrastructure improvements are seldom of transportation benefit to anyone. With their “BART-above-all-else” approach, the original BART planners tried it that way, thereby forcing the connecting transit services to do the adapting and leaving the Region with some unnecessary gaps in service that persist to this day. The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Board on the other hand in its Capitol Corridor upgrade programs has done an unusually thorough job of taking connection opportunities into account. The following proposals are intended to illustrate part of what a carefully coordinated rail and bus network in the Southeast Bay might look like.
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- ACE riders bound for the Southbay or eastbound for the Tri-Valley should not be detoured 2.5 miles off-line to the Union City BART Station. However if demand warranted it, an effort should be made to create a decent connection between ACE and BART. One way of handling this would be to send a branch ACE line to terminate at the Union City BART Station.
- With BART now being extended to Silicon Valley and the rest of the South Bay, there is no longer a need for a parallel Capitol Corridor service along the BART route. Shifting the Capital Corridor trains to the more westerly Milford Line and speeding them up as the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority wants to do would cut the trip time between Oakland and the Diridon Station in San Jose in half. It would also take trains off the currently overcrowded Centerville Line (see map) between eastern Union City and Newark. Moving the Capitol trains westward would have to be done in a manner designed to both protect the wetlands and account for sea level rise. Both challenges can be met.
- To ensure a good East Bay/West Bay rail connection across a new or rebuilt Dumbarton Bridge there should be a standard gauge passenger rail shuttle train between the Union City BART station and the Redwood City Caltrain station using the existing Centerville Line tracks.
- In addition to the Ardenwood stop there should be an ACE/Capitol Corridor/Starlight/Dumbarton Shuttle transfer station at the Wye where the ACE tracks turn south. Since the shuttle trains to Redwood City would be significantly shorter than the Capitols, it appears that with some double tracking this could be accomplished without taking residential property or denying access to the station from Filbert Street.
- AC buses should run in limited access or transit–only lanes wherever possible throughout East Bay, at least during peak traffic hours. Bus to bus and bus to rail transfers should be as convenient as possible.
- And of course, the East West Connector highway, euphemistically dubbed the “Quarry Lakes Parkway”, should be STOPPED
The above changes would improve the long-distance usefulness of both ACE and the Capitols, as well as create powerful connections between BART, ACE, the Capitols, a Dumbarton Shuttle and the long distance Starlight trains.