If reducing greenhouse gases and dependence on foreign oil is more critical than ever, thinking of new ways to get more people to take public transit is more urgent than ever.
To find out what it's like to ride public transit in our area, I gave up a car for five days and depended on trains and buses for transportation. I tell all about it in this week's cover story, which you can also read online: <a href="//www.almanacnews.com/news/show_story.php?id=2289"> <b>"Missed connections."</b></a>
That tells you about some of the problems and obstacles, particularly for people who may be new to using public transit.
So, what do we do about it?
I asked local people who have given this some thought for their ideas. Below is a sample. What are your ideas? Please join the conversation by using the comment box below.
<b>Kelly Fergusson</b>, Menlo Park councilwoman: It should be a priority to get local transit agencies (such as SamTrans and VTA) included in a "one pass" system, such as Translink, as soon as possible. Transit agencies should help cities improve public transit to and from schools to cut traffic.
<b>Martin Engel</b>, Menlo Park transportation commissioner (but not speaking on behalf of the commission): The private sector has a potential role to play in improving transit connections, as more local companies could provide shuttle service to and from public transportation stations to bridge gaps in the existing system. Caltrain should add more bicycle cars to meet the growing demand of bicyclists.
<b>Steve Schmidt</b>, a former Menlo Park councilman who served on several regional transportation bodies: Local agencies need to do a detailed "time transfer analysis" to figure out how long people are waiting between trips, and how those wait times can be lessened through schedule changes.
<b>Jim Bigelow</b>, chair of the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce's transportation committee: Menlo Park and other cities along the Caltrain line should greenlight higher-density residential development. "If you beef up the density, you get more people near transit, making the transit more efficient and more frequent."
<b>Heyward Robinson</b>, Menlo Park councilman: Dedicated bus lanes, or bus rapid transit, is worth exploring. Lanes dedicated to buses can decrease trip times. It's important that transit agencies make improving regional transit networks a higher priority than the California High Speed Rail project.
<i>Please post your comments below.</i>
<LI> A related conversation is going on <a href="//www.almanacnews.com/news/show_story.php?id=2289"> <b>here</b>.</a> Page to the bottom of the story to see the comments.