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Date: August 23, 2002
For Immediate Release

Contact: Joe Kott
(650) 329-2578

New Research Method to Improve Transit Routes

Palo Alto, CA -- A new study, the first of its kind, will help the City of Palo Alto improve local transportation and ride sharing plans of local major employers, according to Joe Kott, City of Palo Alto Chief Transportation Official. Developed by Palo Alto resident and UC Berkeley student Steve Raney, the program collects employee addresses, while maintaining privacy, and plots the addresses on a map. Planners can then determine areas where there are pockets of employees in close proximity allowing for convenient ride sharing.

"Because of the upcoming 101 Corridor Study, planned Caltrain Baby Bullet service, Stanford GUP trip reductions, and ongoing VTA/SamTrans bus route planning, Palo Alto needed more accurate and more current commute data than other cities and transit agencies. We've accomplished this for a fraction of the cost it would have taken using a traditional transportation consulting firm. Compared to recent regional transportation studies our data is twenty times more precise and our participation rates are much higher," said Kott.

"The study of 8,200 workers commuting to Palo Alto's Stanford Research Park indicates a large geographical commute pattern. Some people commute from Manteca, Tracy, and Vallejo," said Kott. He added " but we found out that 47% of SRP employees live within two miles of a Caltrain station and 47% live within a ten-mile radius of SRP." According to Kott, a first step would be evaluating the current bus service along commute paths of the majority of these workers in cooperation with SamTrans, Caltrain and VTA.

The study was conducted through and financed through private donations at a cost of $24,000. Kott and Amanda Jones of Palo Alto's Transportation Division, along with Professor Robert Cervero of the University of California Berkeley (Department of City and Regional Planning) provided advice and oversight to Raney's research project. The employers provided home addresses of SRP employees, and then Cities21 aggregated the addresses on a grid of 1/5 mile x 1/5 mile squares. In Palo Alto, such a square holds about 144 houses.

Once the addresses were aggregated, the address spreadsheet was deleted. "Absolutely no personal information left the premises," said Raney. "We are in compliance with applicable U.S. and European Union privacy laws, and every corporate privacy policy, which is very important in this type of study."

The Palo Alto study collected data on about 40% of the current 20,000 SRP employees. Raney said, "The 1/5 mile grid enables precise transportation planning, such as determining how many people within a 1,500 foot walk of a bus stop commute to SRP." Stanford University, SRP's landlord, will benefit by having better data to help meet trip reductions required by the General Use Permit.

This innovative new methodology also solves a pressing need identified by the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition, in their World Class Transit Report for the Bay Area (Jan 13, 2000), to match new bus service with workers' travel patterns. Companies can benefit as well, by matching bus service to commuters' needs, thus reducing the expense of providing employee parking.

"We're delighted that Steve Raney and the City were able to cooperate on this very informative study," said Kott. "We anticipate that we will be able to help SRP to create compelling new alternative modes of transportation for its employees."

For more information, see also
or contact Steve Raney,,(650) 329-9200

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This page was last reviewed: August 23, 2002