Streetsblog Q&A with BART Board Candidate Janice Li

: streetsblog – excerpt

Late last week, Janice Li, Advocacy Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, stopped by City Hall to pull papers and officially begin her campaign for the District 8 seat of the BART Board. District 8, located entirely in San Francisco, includes Balboa Park, Montgomery, and Embarcadero Stations. Li has gotten off to a strong start, with endorsements from Assemblyman Phil Ting, Supervisor Jane Kim, and BART Board Directors Bevan Dufty and Lateefah Simon, among others. If she wins, she’ll be taking over the seat vacated by Nick Josefowitz, who is currently running for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors…

Streetsblog: So what can a bike advocate bring to the table for BART?

Janice Li: I don’t necessarily see myself as a bike advocate first and foremost. When I started at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, I had no professional planning experience. But I was brought on as someone who has done really deep community-based work, who has done membership development, and someone who has established leadership capacity at a nonprofit organization. My roots are community-based work, in marginalized communities in the West End of Buffalo. One of my first tasks was making inroads into Chinatown and other Chinese Communities in SF. There are so many things that are really important to me before I even get on a bike…

JL: A broader issue is we now have different modes of transportation: ferry, Caltrain, and a lot of private and privatized transportation. You can pay for the privilege not to see that. It’s problematic because then you get different tiers of transportation… you don’t want to deal with the smell of piss, [then you] go catch a Lyft, or get on your Chariot. That’s problematic because they’re pulling money away from public transit. I strongly believe that public transit is a public resource. Now you have BART competing with the Google shuttle–guess who’s going to win?

SB: The shuttle.

JL: Right. BART’s not going to win.

SB: But it doesn’t have to be that way…

SB: So is this primarily about resource allocation?

JL: I feel like it’s hard for me to just be like ‘I know all the ills.’ But past directors weren’t always on the ground seeing what was happening at the stations. So the state of stations not feeling safe or getting cleaned became an okay status quo. I think when Nick Josefowitz and Beven Dufty joined the BART board they pushed a lot of buttons, saying this may be your status quo, but this is an untenable status quo. I want to keep pushing ‘this is NOT okay.’…

JL: I’m unfamiliar with the technology or train operations. But I generally have a lot of concerns around autonomous technology. I would say what I would encourage BART to do is have a work plan for a more autonomous future.

SB: Fare and service integration?…

If I am elected to the BART board, I will find my way onto the MTC commission. But I think individual agencies need to take leadership and force integration if MTC won’t…

I have problems with public agencies, be it BART, or SFMTA, or Public Works, who think that delay is status quo so it’s fine. We have to say ‘we will hold you accountable,’ and if they miss their timelines, ‘why did you set that timeline in the first place,’ and ‘why are you okay with being wrong!’…

I think Lateefah Simon pushes BART staff to do full investigations. Again, that’s the way that BART directors can use their role and power of office to hold agencies accountable and they are great models… (more)

If you need more people on BART, for security reasons, dropping the driver makes no sense. With the presence of a driver, you have at least one human on each train. One set of eyes watching the passengers that should be able to put out an alert when there is a problem. One expert who knows how to deal with emergencies.

If you need more people on BART, for security reasons, dropping the driver makes no sense. With the presence of a driver, you have at least one human on each train. One set of eyes watching the passengers that should be able to put out an alert when there is a problem. One expert who knows how to deal with emergencies.

We will have to see who else is running, but Ms. Li seems to have some good ideas on how to improve the BART system.

 

 

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