Update on Project Activities
While last week’s activities were driven by our GIS work, this week revolved around our TDM and TMA research. After enjoying the long weekend, Ma’ayan and Sam regrouped at Branner Library on Tuesday to conduct their first interview of a TMA from another metropolitan region. The pair sat down for a lengthy telephone interview with Chris Romero from the Contra Costa Center Transit Village. While Ma’ayan steered the conversation, Sam recorded the audio and took notes. The model that the Transit Village follows is unique it is funded and operated entirely by the building owners of the complex, and not by specific employers or a governmental organization--more on the CCC later.
Ma’ayan and Sam spent the next hour performing field calculations on our intersections from last week (see previous post). Ma’ayan continued this work on Thursday, and Sam will wrap it up on Saturday. By the beginning of next week, we expect to have completed our commute-to-work maps and to begin analyzing the data. Later Tuesday evening, we conducted another phone interview, this time with Joanna Hewitt, an assistant working with Jessica Zenk, the Senior Director for Transportation Policy for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. The SVLG is an organization of some of the largest employers in the nine-county region. We scheduled the interview with Jessica’s office in hopes of learning more about the SVLG and about any companies that maintain or are a part of a TMA. Additionally, we hoped the SVLG could share with us any data that employers have collected about their employees’ commuting trends. Unfortunately, Joanna quickly informed us that, through her own experiences, employers generally refuse to share their commuter data with other entities. And the two TMAs that she shared with us--the Moffett Park Business Group in Sunnyvale and the Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton--we have already contacted and hope to interview.
On Wednesday evening, Ma’ayan and Sam attended a meeting of the Joint Powers Board Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of Caltrain, for which Adina serves as the Vice-Chair. The meeting lasted an hour and a half and included a presentation by a Caltrain representative of the Caltrain Strategic Plan, a collection of guiding principles and goals to improve the system over the next ten years. The Plan is still nascent and a preliminary draft was presented to the CAC for feedback. One interesting tidbit that came out of the evening was that Caltrain ridership was up nearly 10% for the month of January. While the meeting taught us the current challenges that Caltrain faces and gave us a snapshot of the citizens advisory process, it did not directly address our research questions. The evening took a cruel, ironic turn for the worse when we discovered that the next two Caltrains had terminated that evening, forcing us to bike from San Carlos back to campus!
What We Observed and Learned
Our interview with the Contra Costa Center Transit Village was insightful because of the TMA’s unique structure: as mentioned previously, the CCC’s TMA is funded and operated by the property owners. The Village consists of 125 acres of land owned by 14 individuals and hosts roughly 6,000 employees. Through a $0.05/sqft charge on leasable space collected from the fourteen landlords, the TMA drew roughly $267,000 to spend on its programs last year. Currently, 12% of CCC employees commute to work using BART, and 30% use some form of alternative transportation. The TMA has been awarded grants for subsidized parking permits for employees and, most recently, the installation of 24 charging stations for electric vehicles. Additionally, the Village owns a 5-car car-sharing fleet and a “green fleet” of bikes and segways for use during the day. The TMA was established 26 years ago in compliance with a state TDM ordinance and due to parking constraints in the Village: with only 3.3 parking spaces per 1000 sqft, the complex simply could not house enough cars for its employees to drive to work. Chris and her team receive feedback on their TMA through surveys conducted every three years. The surveys generally have a high turnout of 40%.
One task from last week that remains unfulfilled is to locate employer data that can be fed into our GIS model. We hope to contact Adina this week to brainstorm ways to obtain this data. Otherwise, our goals for next week are to conduct more telephone interviews with TMAs and to analyze our residential commute-to-work results. Also, we plan to attend the TDM presentation at Palo Alto City Council on Monday, 2/24.
Until next week!
Ma’ayan & Sam