Weekly Roundup: Palo Alto Festival of Arts & Cars on the Decline in the Bay?

By Will Reisman, @WillReisman

Get Creative in Palo Alto This Weekend: An Italian Street Painting Expo, a Kids Art Studio and 20 different musical acts are just some of the highlights of the 34th annual Palo Alto Festival of the Arts taking place this weekend. Overall, some 300 artists and craft makers will participate in the gathering, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday along University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto. The Italian Street Painting Expo, a staple of the festival, will feature 60 chalk artists drawing larger-than-life creations on Tasso Street. Attendees will also be able to snack on local street food and sip on beers from nearby microbreweries. In years past, the free festival has attracted more than 150,000 people from across the state, so event organizers are urging attendees to make public transit their travel mode of choice. Caltrain weekend schedule offers hourly service and four Baby Bullet trains to the Palo Alto station, which is just a short walk from University Avenue.

VTA Collecting Pedestrian Feedback in the South Bay: Since most of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s customers walk to their bus stop or train station, the agency is collecting feedback on the experience of pedestrians in the South Bay. That input will be used to help the VTA develop its Pedestrian Access to Transit Plan, the first countywide program of its kind. The agency is asking its transit customers to fill out a survey so it can help identify specific pedestrian access improvement projects. Ultimately, VTA will include a list of projects that can be paid for through local, state, or federal funding means, and include an implementation plan that will be used to work with cities to improve pedestrian access to bus stops and train stations. A draft list is scheduled to be released this fall, and the final document will be up for board approval in 2016.

Bay Area Sees Nation’s Steepest Decline in Car Commuting: About 70 percent of commuters in the Bay Area drive to work, a mark that represents a four percent reduction since 2006, according to a report from the US Census Bureau. ABC7 pointed out that decline marked the starkest decrease in car commuting for any region in the country. The Bay Area’s percentage of car commuters was the third lowest in the nation, trailing just New York City and Ithaca, New York, and ranking far below the national average of 85 percent. The recent decrease in car commuting has coincided with an upsurge in public transportation usage, particularly on BART and Caltrain. With an average weekday ridership of 58,000 passengers in 2015, Caltrain has nearly doubled its passenger numbers of 2006, when roughly 32,000 customers used the system. SamTrans has also seen steady growth in recent years, with ridership increasing by six percent since 2013.

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