MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH, 2020

In an attempt to reduce traffic, Palo Alto officials approved a plan to dramatically expand the city’s shuttle fleet on Oct. 27.

By a unanimous vote, the Palo Alto City Council approved the proposal to roughly double the amount of service on the north-south Crosstown Shuttle, adding a new “West Shuttle” route that would provide service from the downtown Caltrain station to Mountain View, as well as experiment with a seasonal trolley system that would stretch between Stanford Shopping Center and University Avenue next summer.

Council members also indicated that they want to explore a slew of other options, including additional service to Stanford Research Park and to underserved residential neighborhoods like Barron Park.

The council largely agreed that the city’s small shuttle system, which currently includes three lines, is due for an expansion. The present system consists of the Crosstown Shuttle, a route that stretches from Charleston Rd. in south Palo Alto to the University Ave. Caltrain station in the north, using primarily Middlefield Rd. as the throughway the Embarcadero Shuttle, which goes from the east side of the city to the downtown Caltrain station; and the East Palo Alto Shuttle, which premiered in July and goes from the downtown Caltrain station to the Woodland Park neighborhood in East Palo Alto.

The new proposal from planning staff and their consultants would add the West Shuttle and increase Crosstown service while keeping the Embarcadero and East Palo Alto shuttles unchanged. The council endorsed this plan.

Some members offered specific recommendations. Mayor Nancy Shepherd suggested a service to Gunn High School. Councilman Pat Burt suggested that the city should look at the employee “nodes” at Stanford Research Park where density may justify adding a shuttle service. Meanwhile, Councilwoman Karen Holman pointed to underserved neighborhoods west of El Camino, including Barron Park.

Others reframed the issue. Councilman Greg Schmid suggested that information technology is making on-demand car services like Uber increasingly attractive. He called for exploration of alternative technologies that the city could use to encourage such services.

“This is where the technology is going,” Schmid said. “This is where Silicon Valley is going.”

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