We need an urgent acceleration of the TransbayTerminalCenter and Downtown Rail Extension—as the top priority for state/ regional/ local transportation dollars and Federal New Starts applications. San Franciscans have already set this priority through 1999’s Prop H, 2003’s Prop K and 2010’s Prop G. Otherwise, dense development and tens of thousands of new residents/ workers would overload San Francisco’s street system and Municipal Railway—an inequitable give-away of public assets.
By 2015, 281,000 cars a day will be entering San Francisco from the South (525,000 cars a day by 2035)—more than the combined number of cars on the Golden Gate and BayBridges. The TransbayTransitCenter is the best investment to fulfill a regional need. By comparison, the Central Subway’s dismal new rider projections demonstrate San Francisco’s politicized shoot-yourself-in-the-foot (more like both feet) transit policies. Before any more transit insanity (like a northern Central Subway extension), decision-makers should study Zurich’s 60% transit modal share—by transit-priority streets and an integrated system.

THE ECONOMIST: “Streetcars and urban renewal—Rolling blunder”, “Federal subsidies have inspired some silly transit projects”, August 9, 2014

“Unlike European trams, which often cover long stretches in independent lanes, American streetcars tend to span walkable distances and share the road with other vehicles. This means they inch along with traffic, often at less than 12 miles per hour, on tracks that make it impossible to navigate busy streets or ride around obstacles. Indeed, their slow speeds and frequent stops mean they often cause more congestion. A bus route could move up to five times more people an hour, says Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute, a think-tank.

If streetcars are so slow and costly, why are there suddenly so many? Because federal subsidies have encouraged them. Under Barack Obama the Department of Transportation has made grants of up to $75m available to “small” projects that promise to revitalise urban areas and cut greenhouse-gas emissions. They need not be cost-effective in the conventional sense if they make a place more liveable or offer other vague benefits.

America’s streetcar revival is gobbling up funds that might otherwise go towards cheaper, nimbler forms of public transport, such as buses. This is not only wasteful, but tends to favour better-off riders, such as tourists and shoppers. Poorer residents are mainly served by buses, if at all, says Daniel Chatman of the University of California, Berkeley, who studies regional planning. “The economics of many light-rail and streetcar projects is abysmal,” he adds.”

MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: Implementation of Zurich’s Transit Priority Program


Item 9 TransbayTransitCenter (at about 1:30 hours into video). Informative presentation and public testimony on the Community Benefits District.


Interesting articles on the history and intrigue regarding the Transbay Terminal. Not totally time for congratulations yet—as the final vote on the Transbay Community Benefits District is delayed for two weeks. Need to watch how terms of the district are “tweeked”.

BAY GUARDIAN: “Developers lobby hard to slash payments promised Transbay Terminal and high-speed rail”

CHRONICLE: “S.F. cuts deal with downtown property owners on tax district”

TRANSBAY TERMINAL ARCHITECTURAL COMPETITION: Knowing what we know now—“SkyPark” on hold, no high-speed escalators, no curving glass facade etc.—would the SOM design have won the original competition? Where’s the accountability?

CHRONICLE: “TransbayTransitCenter will open without signature park”


Howard Wong, AIA, SaveMuniSF

No On Prop A

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