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Put Cupertino Transit System on the Council Agenda, Says Frank Geefay

Creating a free shuttle system for the city would encourage more retail and restaurants to open in Cupertino—and with it would come tax revenue.

A Case for a Free Shuttle Service in Cupertino

For years the City of Cupertino has been trying to stimulate retail growth and encourage residents to shop locally.  The City generates essential sales tax revenues from local businesses to fund city services.

However there still remains a relatively high inventory of unrented retail space such as at the Vallco Shopping Mall.  Other neighboring cities have thriving retail businesses such as at Valley Fair and Santana Row which draw large numbers of local residents to shop and dine.

The City is currently working on a permit for Sand Hill Properties to develop a large “” shopping and business center along Stevens Creek Boulevard near Lawrence Expressway and Highway 280. This more than 300,000 square foot shopping and office destination will contain senior housing, 180-room hotel, office space, retail stores, a park, and a green area. However due to limitations in parking space they have limited the number of eating establishments to only 10 percent of retail space.

At a public Planning Commission meeting held on Tuesday, March 27, many residents complained about the inadequacy of reserving only 10 percent of retail space for eating establishments.  They made the case that Valley Fair and Santana Row have anywhere from 20 to 40 percent allotted for eating establishments and were big draws for shoppers and diners from Cupertino.

To limit food service to only 10 percent would greatly limit the number of residents who would regularly visit this new shopping center making it just another Vallco failure. It is vital that more eating venues be allowed if this Main Street shopping center is to become successful at drawing large numbers of Cupertino residents away from neighboring city shopping areas. Office occupants would also need more eating establishments for breakfast and lunch.

There is a solution to this and other transportation needs: a free shuttle bus service that would travel along a route where it is most needed. For example it could travel on Wolfe Road to Stevens Creek Boulevard and down the De Anza Boulevard corridor where most large businesses and shopping areas in Cupertino are concentrated. Residents could go to the shopping area most convenient to them, park their car and hop on the shuttle to the shopping destination of their choice.

This would help distribute the parking load among all shopping areas along the shuttle route and allow greater numbers of shoppers to visit various shopping destinations without saturating parking lots or the need to increase the amount of parking for eating establishments such as at Main Street.

Perhaps some shopping areas could even increase their retail space by reducing their current parking space. This would also be good business for shops where residents drop off their cars to hop on the shuttle by making it more convenient for residents to do a little shopping where they park as well. It might be possible for the City to build a common parking structure along the shuttle route to provide even more effective parking space.

The shuttle could be used to reduce traffic congestion around schools. Some shuttle buses could be diverted at key hours to shuttle students to and from traffic congested schools and gathering areas such as parks, the library, learning centers, daycare centers, etc. Designated volunteer parents could ride the bus with younger children to make sure they are kept safe and get off and on at the proper destinations as well as maintaining order.

Then there is the new Apple campus with 12,000 employees. This shuttle could drive by Apple and transport employee to eating establishments and other destinations along its route.

Shuttles could provide convenient transportation to senior housing such as that at the proposed Main Street Project to the Senior Center, etc. There are many other services the shuttle could effectively make easier for Cupertino residents and businesses such as transporting goods from one business area to another along the route.

A small group calling themselves “” (see the Patch blog article and blog site http://cupertino.patch.com/topics/friends-of-cupertino-transit-1704f939) was recently formed that is trying to establish such a transit system for Cupertino.

But there are big challenges ahead such as funding and who would run it. It could be part of the VTA or run by the City. Mini-buses could be used as shuttles so more buses could be acquired to provide more frequent service. The shuttle can also connect to VTA routes for those needing more extensive public transportation.

So a good case can be made for a free shuttle system that would be a big boost to local business as well as a great convenience for residents by making it much more convenient for them to shop locally. It would help alleviate overcrowded parking at some shopping areas such as at Cupertino Square and the proposed Main Street project by distributing car parking along the shuttle route.

Vacant retail space would be rented due to the increase in local shopping. Greater tax revenues would be generated to fund city services such as the shuttle itself. Businesses benefiting from the shuttle service could incur a small city tax to help fund the free shuttle. Additional funds for sustaining this shuttle could come from regional agencies and federal transportation grants.

I encourage you to ask your Cupertino City Council representative to put a Cupertino Transit System on their agenda to turn this concept into a reality. This could become a huge win-win for everyone. 

Gary E. Jones April 11, 2012 at 03:12 PM
This is so well written that I am truly speechless.

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