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At the VTA Board meeting on Nov. 29, 2012, the Board gave the green light to moving forward with both the Optimal and Revised BRT alternatives. Big thanks to Brian Darrow of Working Partnerships for turning out several excellent speakers and Barbara Fukumoto from Sunnyvale Cool for her letter to the Board. The unanimous vote means the process of environmental review and application for federal funding will soon begin. This is huge because 1. the El Camino BRT is moving forward when there had been talks about nixing the project or terminating it before the Sunnyvale border, 2. the 10 mile dedicated lane option is not off the table, which is important being that it was once thought to be out of the picture, and 3. cities and the public will be able to see the benefits and drawbacks of both alternatives in regards to project impacts and benefits through the EIR, plus which option will bring in the most federal funds. The EIR also presents an opportunity for the public to comment and suggest mitigation for any negative impacts that may result from either alternative. 
Moving forward I think it’s critical that 1. we continue to educate the community and advocate for the best possible project, 2. we involve the VTA Boardmembers who have expressed their strong preference for the project (particularly the Optimal project), 3. help VTA improve its approach/strategy to public participation, collaboration with cities, and community relations – including engaging the business community along the corridor, and 4. addressing the N/S issue in Sunnyvale and other local issues/preferences. 
For more on the VTA Board meeting, see our blog post at http://blog.transformca.org/

Full Speed Ahead with Bus Rapid Transit on El Camino Real!

Santa Clara County cities along the 17.3 mile El Camino corridor have been evaluating Bus Rapid Transit over the last year. A few months ago the Sunnyvale City Council narrowly voted to oppose BRT with dedicated bus lanes along El Camino Real. The setback caused the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to consider a variety of options including terminating the project before the Sunnyvale city boundary or abandoning the project altogether. In order to ensure the project’s advancement and integrity, TransForm and members of the Silicon Valley BRT Coalition worked with VTA and decision-makers to craft a solution. In a major victory in September, the VTA Board of Directors provided guidance to VTA staff and adopted the Coalition’s key recommendations. Then on November 1st the VTA Board of Directors unanimously voted to formalize their position and directed staff to carry the project through the application process for federal funding and to commence environmental review for both the Optimal (over 10 miles of dedicated lanes from Santa Clara to Mountain View) and Revised (3 miles of dedicated lanes in Santa Clara) projects.

Part of the direction of the Board was also to establish regional support for the project in anticipation of federal funding and to provide regular reports to key stakeholders and decision making bodies. TransForm will continue to support the development of this critical transit investment of regional significance and work with local communities in ensuring that their needs and preferences are considered in the next stages of project planning. We look forward to our continued work side by side with our allies including the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Working Partnerships USA, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter, Greenbelt Alliance, Sunnyvale Cool, Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, Day Worker Center of Mountain View, SIREN, and SPUR San Jose as well as VTA and residents and businesses along the corridor.