Yes Virginia, Transportation is a Challenge

Last November, upon hearing much whining from my fellow East Bay residents, I did a little sleuthing on transportation options to get to a potential new stadium in San Jose. I found out that most of the whining was fairly justified. Getting to an imagined park in San Jose would not be as convenient as getting to the current home of the A’s for large portions of the fan base.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the SEIR in San Jose and its transportation assumptions.  I figure it is time to update the transportation discussion.

First, let’s revisit the original findings:

  • The East Bay is a big area, so…
  • It is probably better to break it down by Inner East Bay and Tri Valley/Diablo Valley
  • Inner East Bay (as measured from Berkeley) faces a 1 hr 30 min drive
  • Tri Valley (as measured from Pleasanton) faces a 30-45 minute drive
  • No actual train service exists on a  schedule to serve these folks, realistically
  • Transportation plans (BART/HSR) for the region will not make an impact on East Bay travel times before 2020 (and that is an optimistic estimate)

So now that reality has smacked us in the face and yelled “You have to drive!!!!” What are the solutions a team might kick around to get the East Bay folks some transportation? Fear not, fellow citizens of Eastbaylovakia… I have some ideas.

While I won’t throw out specific plans, here are the methods I think are key to solving the transportation challenges.

Subsidized Bus Lines

I am an East Bay resident. I work in Sunnyvale. Many of my coworkers also live in the East Bay. Our company has an interesting solution to the transportation challenges we face: a free shuttle service. In my case, due to strange work hours on occasion, the bus line is not always helpful. But, on the days I can leave my house by 0620 and leave the office at 1600, there is no better way to get to and from the South Bay than the Bauer’s powered shuttle service.

The service picks me up at the Tassajara Park n’ Ride in Dublin. Drops me off at the office and does the reverse in the afternoon.  There is another stop, further north on 680 for Diablo Valley residents. A similar service used to operate up and down 880 for Oakland/Berkeley residents.

Imagine the Green and Gold Express running up and down 680 and 880. The shuttle could be to and from Fremont BART or they could go the route my company does and hit a few park and rides on the major highways. Either way, it is a solution I expect to be pursued on some level.

Extended Train Schedules

So, there is this Capitol Corridor thing. And this ACE thing. They are comfortable. Come with Wifi. Possibly a bar cart. Not to mention the potential for some baseball history themed train rides from Sacramento, or Stockton on down. The two lines serve a considerable portion of the A’s current territory. Capitol Corridor has from Auburn to Fairfield to Martinez to Oakland to Fremont, etc. ACE covers Stockton, Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton and Fremont.

Here are the two routes with all the stations noted:

ccandaceRoutes courtesy of capitolcorridor.org and acerail.com

Only problem? The schedules they keep don’t exactly mesh so well with night games.  The last ACE train rumbles toward San Jose at around the time any random rooster might crow. It last departs from San Jose, heading out on a northeasterly tact, sometime around when batting practice starts. The Capitol Corridor doesn’t do much better. The simple solution is to introduce a new time slot for each route on night games (similar to what Caltrain does for Sharks games). I’d love to come in on a train from Pleasanton, on a “Turn Back the Clock Day,” with a bunch of other A’s fans, all of dressed in period garb. I can hear the ticket taker barking, “1929 priced beer in the bar cart boys and girls!”

Maybe this is pure fantasy, but it is fun to think about.

Another potential challenge here is the cost/time. A round trip ticket from Berkeley to San Jose on Capitol Corridor is $16 and requires a 1hr and 30 minute train ride. A round trip ticket from the Tri Valley is $12.25 and requires a 1hr train ride from the the Pleasanton station. Obviously, the further away you go, the higher the cost/time commitment.

Based on these numbers, it is probably safe to say that the train schedules would probably need more frequent weekend service. That will be when most folks from extended distances would come to town for a game and , probably, when most fans in the East Bay would come. I know I could get a lot more excited about a 2 hr round trip train ride on a Saturday then I would on a Wednesday.

Express Light Rail Trains

I have absolutely no idea if this is even possible. I love VTA Light Rail, for the simple fact that I think of King Friday every time I pass a “Trolley Crossing” sign. Also, because I have a free pass and anytime I need to get to Downtown San Jose I just jump on the next train and there I am.

Maybe the train only stops at sites with a parking lot and then at the Convention Center, the station at  San Fernando and Delmas and at Diridon. I am not sure if you could have a few express trains running on all routes. I imagine it would cause some congestion in the system.

This would be my preferred method on week nights. I could drive into work, catch an express train out at Moffett Park and be at the game well before the first pitch. The downside being I’d have to catch a train back out to Moffett Park before driving home, but that is doable every once in a while.

All of this conjecture points to the one non MLB controlled challenge at Diridon: Transportation for East Bay fans. Should San Jose get the nod and the park is built, success will depend (in part) on how well the available transportation options are utilized. Perhaps the A’s will bring together VTA, ACE, Capitol Corridor, and Bauer’s and together this group will agree to some unified strategy of people moving.  Stranger things have happened, right?

136 Responses to Yes Virginia, Transportation is a Challenge

  1. Tony D. says:

    Off topic Jeffrey and R.M.: Do you think we’ll hear from the MLB Committee before the start of the season? Every rumored “deadline” has come and gone, with nothing. And now we’re on the verge of Spring Training and the 2010 MLB season…Wow! Anyhow, thought I’d ask.

    Again off topic: Best hockey game I ever saw! USA! USA!

  2. doctorK says:

    Wow – such a convincing argument you’ve got there, Neukom.

  3. Mark says:

    Again…I was asking sfresident, not anon/navigator. But whether you’re Nav or not, you have his/her same tendencies to throw out random figures as if they’re fact. To wit:

    Montgomery St. – Milbrae: 4:48p-5:21p Milbrae – Diridon: 5:33p-6:11p
    Montgomery St. – Milbrae: 5:03p-5:36p Milbrae – Diridon: 5:49p-6:39p
    Montgomery St. – Milbrae: 5:50p-6:22p Milbrae – Diridon: 6:30p-7:11p
    Fare: $4.25 (BART) + $6.00 (Caltrain) = $10.25
    Average time: 86.6 minutes.

    That doesn’t seem too bad, for either transit time or pricing. If your BART stop is farther west, both the transit times and price could decease.

    The return to SF would take longer, as it would on almost any transit option outside rush hour/after 10PM, when the headways are increased.

    I’m not suggesting this is a good option from the East Bay–from Richmond or Pleasanton or Concord you’d be looking at a 2 hour plus transit nightmare–almost certainly you’d be better off heading to Fremont on BART and working out something from there. But if you’re in SF and currently do whatever it takes to get to a BART stop to go to the Coliseum, why is that difficult to take BART in other direction? People already do it for Sharks games.

  4. bartleby says:

    Most likely, SF people will do the same we do in the South Bay: They’ll drive to Caltrain, catch a baby bullet train which will put them right in front of the ballpark in less than an hour, at a cost of $7.75 each way.
    Or they can just go to a Giants game.

  5. thisplanetsux says:

    The SV colored glasses worn around here do not allow for a realistic view of corporate support for an A’s ballpark in Oakland. The “Let’s Go Oakland: Keep the A’s” Facebook group has a “Founding Supporters” page that includes top execs from Genentech, Levi Strauss, Onyx Pharm., Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse, and other companies besides Kaiser-Permanente and Clorox. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect support as well from major corporations with headquarters and/or a large presence in the East Bay, like Chevron, Bio-Rad, Safeway, Wells Fargo, PG&E, etc.

  6. A's Fan says:

    That’s a compelling argument. Did you and your 19 Facebook friends come up with that one?

  7. Zonis says:

    This is a New A’s Ballpark blog, why are you advertising for the San Francisco Giants?

  8. Zonis says:

    ML, can you ban the SF/SJ Giants troll who keeps spamming those sites?

  9. jk-usa says:

    Why was Nav banned? What did he say? I’ve never found his posts to be offensive, or troll-like.
    Just because he supports an Oakland stadium, like myself, and not SJ like the rest of you on here, and some good facts to back them up, he gets banned?
    I better be careful on what I say here too, or I may get the boot.

  10. jk-usa says:

    Kaiser Yards or Clorox Field has a nice ring to it.
    Hope I don’t get banned for saying that?!

  11. jk-usa says:

    But the Oakland naysyers will counter that SV has many more corporations who’ll support a ballpark. We know Cisco for sure, but many others support the Giants and that’s the why the whole TR issues won’t go away.

  12. Marine Layer says:

    As long as you don’t misrepresent yourself as Nav did, you’ll be fine. Nav is a fraud.

  13. ru155 says:

    I hope that’s true. I’d logically believe that the corporate sponsorships/lux suite purchases for a new Oakland site would go IF they could build an attractive park attached/near JLS. You have to make it an attractive place to take clients or reward employees with an upscale night at the game.

    I’d also wonder if we could get Peet’s Coffee to add onto the corporate list.

  14. Jeffrey says:

    jk- who are the many others that support the Giants? And what does support actually mean?

  15. jk-usa says:

    Luxury suite purchases, signage in the ballpark, promotional events.

  16. Jeffrey says:

    I understand what they would buy, what I don’t understand is why people keep saying “The Giants corporate support comes from Silicon Valley” without any real knowledge of who buys what from the Giants (outside of signage).

    Of the prominent sings in the stadium I think of an East Bay company (Chevron), a South Bay company (Yahoo!). I remember a Visa sign (San Francisco company), Levi’s (San Francisco)… I don’t dispute that it is possible that the Giants receive the majority of their support from Silicon Valley, but I have never seen anything that shows that to be the case.

  17. Jeff says:

    You know what’s completely ridiculous about all this speculation about corporate sponsorship, transportation, etc etc? No one ever acknowledges who has the power to do what and why they would do a certain thing over another. Wolfe can’t arbitrarily move the A’s to any city he sees fit to move them to. Selig has more authority over the matter, but even his reach is limited. By the same token, Neukom is also powerless to inflict his will on the A’s. You know who decides? Thirty owners. So there it is. All one needs to do is ask themselves what they would do if they were one of those owners other than the Giants or A’s. All of these people are in the game for one primary reason. Money. So the question to ask is what would you do if you owned the Reds? Allow the A’s to stay in Oakland and continue to live off league largesse? Like it or not, Oakland is a proven commodity. I’m fairly certain that the owners don’t like it one bit. Selig already knows what he has to do, but ego’s being what they are, it’s in his interests to move the process at a glacial pace. Not one of those owners will tolerate another being steam rolled by the Commissioner. But then again, they also know the end result is a forgone conclusion…..because they’re going to see to it. Bud’s role is merely to broker a semi palatable deal between the affected parties. But very soon now the other 28 owners are going to lose patience with Neukom. He knows it, they know it, everyone knows it. It’s a matter of fixing a price within the lodge. Nothing more.

  18. Nam Turk says:

    Where are these corporations now? They’re waiting for the park, with no regard to the team now? Wow, that’s loyalty.

  19. Tony D. says:

    Jeffrey,
    Beating a dead horse: the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) poll of 2009, in which they surveyed 200+ Silicon Valley company’s. The results (again): 75% did not do any business with the Giants, and of the 15% who did, they would continue to support the Giants even with the A’s in San Jose (10% did not respond to survey). Another thing to consider is that the SVLG, which represents most (if not all) major corporations in the South Bay, wholeheartedly endorses an A’s move to San Jose. That tell’s yah a little something now doesn’t it.

    Kaiser Yards or Clorox Field? Glad to see that KP and Clorox are willing to fork out $100 million + of their own money for naming rights to this fantasy Oakland yard. Damn Kaiser better not raise my insurance premiums to make it happen!

  20. anon-a-mouse says:

    good question….ask the earthquakes about that..

  21. SantaTeresaHills says:

    Look at the list of 8 major corporations that helped build AT&T park. They are listed on the San Francisco Giants web site as the Giant’s Winner Circle. They are AT&T, Bank of America, Budweiser, Chevron, Charles Schwab, Coca Cola, CHW, and Visa.

    Let’s see now.

    Bank of America – Used to be headquartered in San Francisco.
    Pacific Bell – Subsidiary of AT&T that used to be headquartered in San Francisco.
    Charles Schwab – Headquarters in San Francisco.
    Visa – Headquarters in San Francisco
    Chevron – Headquarters in San Ramon (Used to be in San Francisco)
    Coca Cola – Headquarters in Atlanta
    Budweiser – Headquarters in St. Louis
    Catholic Healthcare West – Headquarters in San Francisco.

    What do these companies have in common? Obviously they are all high tech companies based in Santa Clara County and Santa Clara County should remain Giants territory.

    Of the 8 companies, 3 are current headquartered in San Francisco, 2 used to be headquartered in San Francisco, 1 subsidiary that used to be headquartered in San Francisco and which the baseball park used to be named after, and 2 beverage manufactures that would like to be the major suppliers for the ballpark.

    I was actually surprised that so many companies were headquartered or used to be headquartered in San Francisco. If the ballpark was built in San Jose instead of San Francisco, would these same 8 companies have been the major companies in getting the ballpark built. I would say yes to Budweiser, Coca Cola, maybe to Chevron, and probably not to CHW, Charles Schwab, Bank of America, Visa, and Pacific Bell (AT&T). Why would I say probably not to the last 5 companies? Because it would not be convenient for executives in San Francisco to show clients baseball games in San Jose.

    The whole point of this blog posting is that travelling between San Jose and the East Bay sucks for weekday night games. I agree with that. For that reason, you are very unlikely to get many luxury suites sold to companies in Santa Clara County. Having the new stadium in Jack London Square area is even worse for Santa Clara County than the current location. As someone who takes Caltrain to work almost every weekday, having BART access is very desirable for me. Currently though, using BART from the South Bay is not that convenient because it still takes a difficult commute to go north on 880 to get to Fremont and then drive across town to the BART station. The new station at Warm Springs would help a lot. It is further south and much closer to the freeways. Still that would help get corporate executives to take clients to the game.

    If a stadium is built in San Jose, I don’t expect corporations in San Francisco, Oakland, or the rest of the East Bay except for Fremont to be buying corporate suites or helping get the stadium built in San Jose. Likewise, you shouldn’t expect the opposite if it is built in Jack London Square area.

  22. bartleby says:

    There is no level of park attractiveness that is going to make Silicon Valley execs drag their clients through 2 hours of rush hour traffic, especially when it takes only one hour to get to AT&T Park. It just isn’t going to happen. In terms of marketing to Silicon Valley, China Basin is already a challenge; JLS is a complete non-starter.

    Again, we’re not talking about who’s going to buy the signage; I’m sure the signage will sell regardless of where the park is located. We’re talking about who is going to buy full-season packages for anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 suite and club seats.

    A dozen or so East Bay or SF companies in not nearly enough.

  23. baycommuter says:

    Kaiser Yards sounds like a German meatpacking plant.
    With Clorox Field, the home whites would be especially bright. It doesn’t make much sense for a product that is marketed mostly for women to have its name on a ballpark, though.

  24. Zonis says:

    On the subject of comments, I have to say that I am somewhat annoyed with the way the comments are laid out. I feel like its very hard to find what comments are new. I have to sort through and read all the comments before to find out what new comments have been posted.
    -Is there a new comments system we could use? It is also annoying that everything gets crunched into 1 paragraph, with no formatting.

  25. Bay Area A's says:

    According to Dellums’s state of the city address, “absolutely confident” the city will be contacted by baseball officials “within the next several days.”

    Linked Site.

  26. OAKLANDathletics says:

    I agree 100% with Zonis on this. I’ve found it harder to keep up since the format switch when I haven’t visited the page after a day or so.

  27. Marine Layer says:

    Comments support most html tags like blockquote, pre, br, and others.

    If I get enough feedback supporting a switch to unthreaded comments, I’ll make the switch.

  28. bartleby says:

    Wow, a lot of rational people over at AN.

  29. GoA's says:

    classic—…”because of the way we have conducted ourselves…” he feels that Oakland is a front runner—wtf is this guy smoking—I hope his prediction this time is accurate…meaning he is contacted by MLB with the message that they are moving forward with SJ—otherwise progress towards a new ballpark will be measured by lip service with no real action–

  30. Zonis says:

    Its not just that. I find that threads/comments appear at random places sometimes when they are posted. This one, for example, should have been near or at the bottom. But for me, its 16+ comments up, ahead of a comment I posted earlier!

  31. GoJohn10 says:

    Dellums says that if Oakland “is still in the game…we can go to the next level.” Even if Oakland is still in the game, I wouldn’t expect them to move forward unless it turns out they are the only game in town.

  32. FC says:

    I agree, I’m finding it more difficult to follow the different discussions in this format. I noticed that there is a “forum” option above. Is there a way to move the discussions to over there?

  33. LoneStranger says:

    I agree, the commenting system leaves a lot to be desired in terms of ease of use. Honestly, the best system I’ve seen has been the one at SB Nation. I was hoping that one day this blog would move there. ;)

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