While costly highway improvements are expected to trod along slower than a solo driver in rush-hour traffic, a sub-regional public-private partnership is forming to address congestion by encouraging alternate means of transportation — specifically along State Route 92.

As governments and transit agencies look to the streets and tracks, employers and companies are looking to hop on board the momentum to enhance mobility.

It’s no surprise much of local traffic is being driven by those commuting from their more affordable homes in the East Bay to major job centers along Peninsula. But as significant focus has been geared toward major north-south projects like Caltrain and Highway 101, central San Mateo County officials are looking to draw attention to State Route 92.

The 92 Corridor Alliance is beginning to take shape with Foster City helping to steer the course. The voluntary transportation management association will also include the city of San Mateo; major private and public employers; transit agencies as well as county, state and federal representatives.

“Transportation congestion is a regional problem. A lot of the longer-term projects and solutions that have been discussed are absolutely north-south oriented,” said Commute.org Executive Director John Ford. “There’s the opportunity to look at 92, I think that’s why Foster City and San Mateo have tried to pull resources together. They have some really important major employers between those two cities so the collaborative opportunity is great.”

More than 70 percent of San Mateo County residents drive to work alone and the last five years has been marked by rapid job growth far outpacing commensurate housing construction.

How to resolve “last-mile” connection to mass transit, help smaller employers utilize shuttle programs, encourage more carpooling and make walking or biking safer are a few topics likely to be explored.

Expanding commuters’ network

Collaborating with employers, highlighting new opportunities like mobile apps connecting carpoolers with similar destinations, and finding means to make driving alone less desirable will also be of import, according to Foster City officials.

“Those are not infrastructure solutions, those are the kind of immediate ‘what can we do’ to get the commuters themselves from these various organizations to gain access to a greater network of opportunities,” Ford said.

Major employers that have already signed on include Gilead, Visa, Oracle, Biomed, Franklin Templeton Investments and Zoox. The Foster City and San Mateo chambers of commerce, San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District and San Mateo County Community College District are also core members.

A crucial opportunity for the alliance will be to learn from one another and leverage resources, said Foster City Vice Mayor Sam Hindi. The city has sought to improve its own streets, enhance pedestrian as well as bicyclist safety and other transportation projects within its own jurisdiction. But addressing the gridlock lining Foster City will require far more than one community’s abilities, he noted.

“We understand we can only do so much in our local community, but we all know this is a regional problem that’s impacting all of us so we need to collaborate,” Hindi said.

As a community surrounded by the Bay, State Route 92 and Highway 101, Foster City has limited transit stops and is greatly affected by commuter congestion. But it also has a number of corporate headquarters and companies with robust transportation demand management plans or shuttle systems that can be shared, Hindi said.

“We want to figure out how to come up with solutions or ideas for how we can leverage what we have, what they have, what San Mateo has, and come up with solutions that can make an impact until the 101-92 [interchange] is addressed,” Hindi said.

One example might be encouraging larger employers with empty seats on their private shuttles to open them up to smaller companies that can’t afford to run their own service. Vanpools and carpools are also a quick way to reduce solo drivers but connecting people with proximate stops at both ends can be a challenge. That’s why expanding the pool of resources by connecting a variety of employers — from biotech to teachers — is key, Ford said.

Dante Hall, Foster City’s assistant city manager, said the group is in the initial stages and the next steps will be to talk about defining the problem, identifying strategies used locally and by others, and consider what gaps could be filled. On Monday, the Foster City Council agreed to proceed with forming the alliance.

“We’re looking to work closely with the businesses to develop a more localized collation,” Hall said.

Ultimately, connectivity is critical in a regional approach and a goal could be linking the alliance’s efforts to larger infrastructure projects, mass transit stops and north-south improvements.

Regional projects in the works

Examples of larger regional mass transit projects include electrifying Caltrain, expanding bus service, bringing Bay Area Rapid Transit further south in the East Bay and extending Caltrain into downtown San Francisco. On San Mateo County roads, much of the focus has been on Highway 101 with projects, albeit still in the very early planning stages, aiming to install express lanes and improve the interchange with State Route 92.

SamTrans is also looking toward the Dumbarton Corridor, the county’s second east-west Bay connection. The transit agency recently completed a study outlining billions of dollars in suggested short- and long-term improvements, including reinstating train service along the defunct rail bridge.

But competition for funding is steep and many of the larger transportation infrastructure projects could take years.

In the meantime, officials are striving to engage the business community to leverage what’s being done in the private sector. The San Mateo County Economic Development Association is doing similar work primarily focused on the north-south corridor through its recently-established Peninsula Mobility Group.

San Mateo City Manager Larry Patterson said companies have a vested interest in transit solutions and collaborating with the various sectors contributing to congestion will be key.

“It’s a problem that local government by itself, or business by itself, or transit agencies by itself cannot solve,” Patterson said. “This issue is going to require some collaboration and innovation to make constructive things happen.”

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

Twitter: samantha_weigel

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(3) comments

BenToy

A good thing to read of…..but…..hope they look to solve the root causes….otherwise band aids that most likely will exacerbate and/or create another problem…

IMO…it bakes down to three root causes
#1 Over population, we will NEVER solve that one
#2 Disassociation of location between bedrooms vs jobs. So they commute…typically via cars
#3 Public transit isn’t good enough…as if it were, folks can live hundreds of miles away and commute via public transit instead of driving their cars

As for 92…we are in a land locked area (built up, or close to it) and little ‘dirt’ is available to expand 92. Some things can be done to improve. Like the current 92/El Camino exchange

IMO…the direction should be with each cities Public Works and Planning. A change is needed to move into the 21st Century. Move away from a car centric PW’s and Planning.
PW’s must move into a Vision Zero, Sustainable Streets, Complete Streets methodology
Planning must move into a Form Based Code methodology. The current MTC 2040 is similar to this, but they also include CalTrans stuff
That will be the most effective or the biggest bang for the buck and is a must start somewhere…AKA addressing the root causes. Otherwise a potential band aids that might create more problems than they solve…

BenToy

We live in a holistic system, that has artificial band aids that skew that balance.

An example is the last reference to the 92/El Camino ‘improvements’ that is in the works now…a wonderful potential…but…what will the increased flow do to the whole area surrounding that intersection?

Can the residential streets handle the cut through traffic that will bring? Can Baymeadows handle the cut through traffic that will bring once 25th, 31st, et are completed with this 92/El Camino improvement bring?

All of these just increase the queue to the root cause of this singular problem…getting to and from the East Bay between bedrooms and jobs…AKA the bridge capacity.

Then the same problem on the East side of the bridge…880/680/580/etc that feed the commuters between their bedrooms and jobs

Notice that matrixes between #2 & #3 root cause…

Add the increased numbers of vehicles running around in our urban areas due to Uber and Lyft. Wonder what percentage of their time is driven empty waiting for a fare? Next time you take one of these…talk to the driver and ask if they ‘park and wait’ for a call…ALL of the ones I’ve talked to say they keep moving empty to increase their call diameter…that is just how their metrics work best…the larger your call dia…the more calls you are potentially going to get

Plus…the new types of living metrics…

Example is one of the current fastest growing business…food delivery to homes/apartments/etc where it is either cooked or prepped for you to cook at home.

Except for management…most of their employees are service sector. Replication of a super market at their facilities…to shoppers at local markets…to stockroom facilities…to food prep workers…to packaging and logistics for each driver/delivery car. There are most likely a host of other’s in this food chain


They all are local to their customers and can NOT easily have their stockroom/facilities far away…as the commute would kill their delivery times.

Ditto Internet based shopping. It has added many, many more vehicles to the traffic congestion problem

But…they do not ‘park’…just double park mostly.

Back to this article and the ‘new’ transit organization…it is more than just cars and roads…it needs to…has to include consideration of how society is living in the 21st Century…vs…the old metrics of the 20th Century…

vincent wei

Is this really rocket science? ...seems as if the narrative is being made purposely complex by certain stakeholders...

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