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Palo Alto looks to spur Caltrain use among city workers

Original post made on Feb 19, 2014

City workers in Palo Alto may soon have a fresh incentive to ditch their cars in favor of mass transit -- free Caltrain passes.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 9:51 AM

Comments (29)

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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 19, 2014 at 10:43 am

Why not a shuttle from CalTrain to East Bayshore? Plenty of city employees out there at Water Treatment, Utilities, and Public Works, and no easy way to get from CalTrain to there. A shuttle from California station right out Oregon would work.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:03 am

@Cur Mudgeon

Your wish has been granted:
Web Link


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Posted by Jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:10 am

Why not, the City Council gives the damn workers everything else. If we had less idiotic development downtown, with parking space exemptions granted to almost every one, there would be more parking downtown.
[Portion removed.]


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:38 am

This is a great idea. I know that state workers in SF get passes to cut their costs for a commute from the east bay. Corporations in the Moffat Park area are providing passes on the lite rail to reduce commute costs.
Companies that have to provide parking are looking for ways to get their employees out of cars.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm

@Jerry99 - Even if downtown development was such that there wasn't a parking debacle this is a good idea. Just b/c an idea emanates from City Staff doesn't automatically mean the idea is w/o merit. I hope this one is successful. I only wonder why this wasn't done long ago.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm

GREAT IDEA ! (all caps for negative letter writer above). This is the kind of creative thinking PA will need in order to moderate and guide future growth. PA cannot be the capitol of Silicon Valley without some growth.


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I'll say it again: I thought free Caltrain passes were a great idea - until they caused SamTrans to feel too much sibling rivalry and to fret over being what they saw as a failure contrasted with Caltrain. Of course they were going to be a failure: they didn't give out any passes.
Now we don't have KX to get to SFO and to get to a decent place in San Francisco.
Plus we have so many people using Caltrain that we now have to think about extending the platforms.
Unintended consequences.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm

This is great news.

As for Business Decision above, this is why we need to align all transit agencies in the Bay Area. We need to get away from the competitive attitudes and get them to start complementing each other, interacting better and giving us a complete service rather than piecemeal independence.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

So where can I get a $165 Caltrain all-zone annual pass? I don't belong to any of the eligible clubs. Maybe Costco could look into this?


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Resident, how can we get some action on having an integrated agency?


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Posted by Forward Looking
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Musical -

I'll take it further. With our surplus, why not get a vta/caltrain pass for all residents?

The city would certainly get a whopping discount, and council would have bragging rights for their future endeavors.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm

>I'll take it further. With our surplus, why not get a vta/caltrain pass for all residents?

If your concept is married with city-wide residential parking permits (with heavy fines for scofflaws), I think it could be a real winner. I also like the satellite parking lot shuttles (e.g. East Bayshore).


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Posted by ok
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

The City of Palo Alto has been providing "free" CalTrain passes to city employees for the past 20 years in exchange for their employee parking garage permits. This idea is neither innovative or "creative thinking", it's just business as usual in Silicon Valley mandating employers to reduce single use auto traffic. The fact that the City of Palo Alto Communications Director would regurgitate this old news as innovative and issue a press release suggests she was either ignorant of current policy or it was a slow news day and she felt it necessary to justify her job.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm

And just 'where' do these employees live? Some live in the East Bay - San Jose to Oakland area. And south of San Jose - but there are few trains that way. Hw many stil live in Santa Cruz - and the Livemore Valley area? So just how many would use this service? The city should get the stats on where employees live?. Is this practical?


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Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Kate,

Stanford does not seem to have a problem getting its employees to use Caltrain.

The city does not have as many employees but 123 cars is not chicken feed.


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Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Palo Alto residents can afford their own Caltrain tickets and are not going to take Caltrain to work in Palo Alto.

The concept is that we are trying to get rid of the cars of people who cannot afford to live in
Palo Alto or prefer to live somewhere where so many people do not go around with an air of superiority.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford does not seem to have a problem getting its employees to use Caltrain."

That is because Stanford has had an integrated Parking and Transportation policy for almost 35 years in which bicycle paths, parking garages and the Marguerite shuttle are all paid for by parking fees without spending a penny of the university's general funds.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm

>That is because Stanford has had an integrated Parking and Transportation policy for almost 35 years

Until Palo Alto has a city-wide RPPP, the pressure will not be here to introduce such an integrated system. We will just continue to have one neighborhood, after another, complaining about parking issues, and doing little about it, until it becomes intolerable...then on to the next neighborhood.

College Terrace provided the model, and now it is time for the other neighborhoods to follow some version of our model.

Palo Alto should not reject growth (we need it!). We need to figure out how to accommodate it, while preserving our neighborhoods.


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Posted by Goose Gander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Users are where innovation begins. As a symbolic gesture, lets take away the Council's parking spots at City Hall and require them to take transit, especially when they schedule business after the transit stops, when it's cold and raining, dark, and on days when one of them needs chemotherapy. It might give them a new perspective for solutions.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Why does Palo Alto -- one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S. -- feel so economically victimized? Why is the "community" such a hostile place?

What IS this comment??? QUOTE: "lets take away the Council's parking spots at City Hall and require them to take transit, especially when they schedule business after the transit stops, when it's cold and raining, dark, and on days when one of them needs chemotherapy. It might give them a new perspective for solutions."

What are you talking about??????? The city employees are not your enemies, you are your own worst enemy.


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Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 19, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Yes -- we need to do more to get people out of their cars. In addition to Caltrain passes, the City should be working with Samtrans and VTA to organize rapid bus routes. The loss of the KX between Palo Alto and SFO (then on to San Francisco) is a tragedy. We need to get routes between cities so people don't have to drive. We also need more smoothly paved and safe bikeways to encourage more people to ride. Riding is fun, it's healthy, it reduces pollution and traffic, and it saves money. Five big wins -- let's work on making it easier and safer to ride a bike from community to community.


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Posted by Goose Gander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm

@neighbor,
My moniker was referring to: what's good for the goose is good for the gander. This City Council has heaped bad development after bad development on us without doing the hard work of planning for things like good infrastructure, safety, and traffic circulation, and their response is to come up with programs they don't seem inclined to use themselves.

Let them lead by engaging in any programs they propose themselves, rather than something they would never do themselves for all us little people out here while they drive their nice cars from nearby rich neighborhoods and park in dedicated parking spots right under the Council Chambers. One of the reasons people drive, for example, is that they work after transit stops, or it's a safer bet for a parent of four children who has to go home in the rain and dark and pick up the groceries on the way home, or chemo sucks and the car is the fastest way home. Such programs work much better when people planning them actually use them and understand what they are proposing.

It is absolutely true that solutions and innovations come mostly from users. Since this Council is mostly tone deaf to the people, they should become users themselves. The City of Boston's transit system and subway was like the inside of a toilet until Governor Dukakis rode it every day to work himself. Then it got it's overhaul and became great, that's when it changed.

As for your comment, " The city employees are not your enemies,"

You could have fooled me. I was one of many involved in trying to get the Council to do something more reasonable at Maybell which ultimately resulted in Measure D when they would not. (During that time, there was a very honest post by a City Employee who lives in Palo Alto who basically said City Employees do not respect residents -- beauty is as beauty does, it was already apparent.) If you want me to believe that, I will look for evidence of it, but I used to think as you do and have been very badly disabused of such notions from experience.


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Posted by Goose Gander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm

PS - To the extent that City Employees made it quite clear through the Maybell debacle that they work for developers and to push through certain favored projects for the Council, NOT for the residents of Palo Alto, you are wrong. The City Manager even admitted that employees don't even try to be impartial, they just comb through the comprehensive plan for whatever supports their desired outcome.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 20, 2014 at 6:11 am

Does the IRS tax these passes as $165 of imputed income, or the value that would be paid by the general public? Or are they a untaxed like free parking?


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Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 20, 2014 at 6:24 am

Interesting concept. This "free" program will cost $63,691.


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Posted by Forward Looking
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

"Palo Alto residents can afford their own Caltrain tickets and are not going to take Caltrain to work in Palo Alto."

!?

Many Palo Alto residents also work and commute.

Is it your contention that residents of Palo Alto have so much money that they don't care about living expenses?

(You don't by any chance happen to work in the city government?)

I believe a resident's program would have a larger impact, both practically and symbolically, than the city employee program. And it would be more fair, and more appreciated by the residents.


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2014 at 7:22 am

musical,employer-provided passes aren't treated as imputed income. I think your comment about buying them at Costco was a joke as I am sure you know this type of pass is only available through an employer.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 20, 2014 at 7:51 am

"or residential complex" (Caltrain codified tariff)


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Posted by 1+1=3
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 20, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Current estimate to build one new parking space in downtown Palo Alto = $62,000+/-. The City is only charging $450+/- per year for a parking permit. Am I missing something here? It appears to me that the true cost of a yearly parking permit should be much higher. Maybe $2,000/yr?


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