Q Has there ever been any talk of shutting down the San Jose light rail system? It is painfully slow, horribly expensive, and embarrassingly underused. I have often sat in traffic and watched light rail cars go by with one or two people on them. It seems that we would be better served by using the space taken up by the light rail for more carpool lanes. At least they would get used.
A Several of your criticisms are valid, but the system won't be shut down and ridership will pick up for two big reasons -- BART and the major development planned along First Street in North San Jose, with thousands of new housing units and millions of square feet of new office and research space. The city estimates that $2.8 billion worth of new projects are underway or about to start and the plan would add office space equivalent to the size of 10 to 15 Valley Fair shopping centers.
There will be a transfer station from BART in Milpitas to the trolley line. The VTA estimates that light rail ridership will increase by 25 percent, or more than 11,000 systemwide a day, mostly because of BART. More than 30,000 ride light rail each weekday now, a figure that has been slowly but steadily rising.
Q Gary, I read with interest your article on new VTA director Nuria Fernandez. You point out that the VTA is responsible for mass transit and road improvements, but the article was 100 percent about transit. What are her views on road improvements?
A Her road priorities are the same as the agency's: building express lanes on Highway 85, 101 and 237, converting 101 to a freeway south of Gilroy and finding money to begin work on some of the South Bay's most difficult interchanges -- Mathilda Avenue at 101, 25-101, Foothill Expressway at 85-280 and 237 off 85.
Q Regarding letters about VTA light rail seat hogs, I, too, have found seat hogs are a perpetual problem at any time of day, even during commute hours when many people are standing.
Unless someone has a contagious disease or is carrying luggage, there's no excuse for hogging an entire row of seats. In addition, even as ridership has increased, VTA has cut service over the past two years, routinely running one-car trains when two- and three-car trains were the norm.
A And off we go.
Q It is definitely true that there are seat hoggers! I complain every day! I ride the light rail daily and while outside of commute hours and in less-traveled sections the trains are fairly empty, riding around downtown San Jose during commute hours there is often standing room only.
There is even one man who takes up a space in the bike rack (for his bike), the seat next to him (for his bag), the seat in front of him (for his iPad TV show setup), and his seat (for his butt) and then refuses to move as the train fills up unless directly confronted.
A Not nice ...
Q When I ride light rail or a bus, I usually take up two seats with my back pack or my store purchase. If I am asked or the vehicle is getting full I always hold everything and move over. I find that most people will move if asked.
A Much nicer.