Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) – No on Regional Measure 3

In an economically dynamic region like the Bay Area the ability to get around is paramount.  Yet in recent years the movement of people and goods in this region has been slowing down.  The highway backups have been getting worse and the hours of delay longer.  Urban traffic congestion has been getting ever more constrictive.

In the past 25 years there have been many opportunities to deal effectively with regional gridlock.  These opportunities have been largely ignored.  Instead, billions of dollars of scarce transportation resources have been lavished on backward-looking highway expansions and ill-conceived parochial and pet projects, mostly of small consequence.

For the following reasons BATWG rejects RM3 as being just more of the same.

  • RM3 contains no unifying plan for addressing the region’s main transportation problems; namely, the excessive freeway backups and urban traffic constraints, and the poorly integrated and otherwise defective regional network of public transit lines.
  • Instead of a well thought out regional plan for returning a healthier balance to Bay Area transportation, RM3 is comprised of a slapped-together $4.45 billion dollar hodgepodge of 35 disjointed individual projects.   A handful of these are worthwhile; however the package as a whole falls far short.  In fact RM3 promises to bring nothing but more backups and more congestion.
  • Another problem is caused by the common practice of MTC, the large transportation agencies and local jurisdictions of diverting funds from voter-approved projects to other uses. BATWG’s efforts notwithstanding, the Sponsors of RM3 have steadfastly refused to guarantee that the money raised will be spent on the projects listed in the Voter’s Handbook.
  • And finally, there’s the matter of RM3’s constitutionality.  In order to qualify RM3 for a 50% “do pass” vote, it was necessary for the sponsors of the Measure to define the $3 + in additional bridge tolls to be imposed by RM3 as “fees”.  However under the California Constitution fees are clearly intended to produce benefits for the fee payers.  Since most of the voters who would be receiving the $billions in new highway and transit projects if RM3 passes would notbe fee payers, RM3 comes nowhere close to meeting that standard.  RM3 is therefore about new taxes, not new fees.  And tax measures require a 7% vote, not a 50% vote.  This puts RM3 in direct violation of the California Constitution.

For these reasons BATWG believes that this deceptive, unfair and illegal measure should be voted down.  By refusing to go along with “just more of the same”, the voters would be sending a message demanding something better; namely a straightforward regional plan that addresses and deals with the Region’s most pressing transportation problems.

Download the doc. (RM3 Opposition May 1718)

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Bay Area transit agencies among several to receive billions in state funds

By: Daniel Montes :ktvu – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – The California State Transportation Agency on Thursday announced it would give out more than $2.6 billion to 28 transit agencies statewide, including the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, Caltrain and BART, as well as several other Bay Area agencies.

The grant funding is part of the Transit and Intercity Rail Capacity Program and will go toward expanding rail capacity and reducing congestion, according to CalSTA officials.

In addition to the $2.6 billion, which will be used for the 2018/2019 fiscal year to the 2022/2023 fiscal year, CalSTA will also provide additional funds for some critical projects between the 2023/2024 fiscal year and the 2027/2028 fiscal year, totaling more than $4.3 billion, CalSTA officials said…

“When the legislature stepped up and passed Senate Bill 1 and extended Cap and Trade last year, these are exactly the kinds of public transportation projects I wanted to see fund,” Wiener said, referring to the Road and Repair Accountability Act of 2017… (more)

Can California sustain the inflationary spiral our state legislature is setting us up for? This is not free money. This appears to be the road repair money we were promised would come out of SB1. How much road repair have we seen? All the shiny new buses need better roads too.

Now the MTC wants us to cough up more money into their coffers by passing one of the most inflationary bills every imagined, Regional Measure Three.

Not only would RM3, as it is known, add at least $3 to the bridge tolls on all the state bridges in the 9-county region, if it passes it will trigger immediate costs of living increases as the cost of shipping everything, including food, goes up. In addition to guaranteed inflation, the voters will see the following impacts:

  • Automatic increases based on inflation that the bill is certain to trigger.
  • The bridge tolls will be used to pay down the considerable bond debt the tax payers have already agreed to.
  • Voters will give up their right to control future bridge toll increases.

FOR THESE AND MANY OTHER REASONS, WE SUGGEST YOU OPPOSE RM3.
And Consider voting to Repeal SB 1. This state imposed bill has already had a negative impact on many lives and businesses in the state as diesel gas prices are already soaring. A bill to repeal the gas tax and return the right to decide future increase will probably be on the November 2018 ballot.

BART closures cause congestion

Getting home should be considered mundane and common but for some BART riders, it will soon become dangerous and difficult.

In a few months, the Civic Center BART station will permanently close entrances at Grove, Hyde and Market Streets and the entrance outside Hotel Whitcomb will be permanently closed.

This decision is to make way for a new power substation that is needed to ensure there’s enough electricity when the plan for 2025 runs 25 percent more trains beneath downtown and the Transbay Tube.

“Things will become much more noticeable during peak time such as the 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. transit times,” said Thomas Edwards, utility worker for BART… (more)

It isn’t April Fools yet. What is gong on here? Is this true? Will BART stop at Civic Center? Which exits will remain open? How will this effect the Muni underground?

RELATED:

BART Plans To Close Some Civic Center Station Entrances

cbslocal – excerpt (includes video)

…it’s a necessity to grow the BART system using measure RR funds to put in a new power substation at Civic Center…(more)

This is what our regional tax funds get us. Less service so they are GROW BART. Good reason to oppose any more regional bills such as this year’s RM3 that will increase $3 bridge tolls at the same time they are cutting back on BART service.

BART Increases Fares, Cracks Down on Evaders in New Year

By Sam Brock and Bay City News : sfbaynews – excerpt

Fares are going up for BART riders in the new year, with everyone paying 2.7 percent more than in 2017, and those trying to pay nothing to ride the train are in for some steep penalties, according to the transit agency.

The minimum fare will rise to $2 for adults, $1 for youth between ages 5 and 18, and 75 cents for senior or disabled Clipper card users.

The agency also unveiled its new fare evasion policy Monday, as it tries to prevent millions in unpaid fares from walking out the door.

BART said fare inspectors will go car-by-car, passenger-by-passenger, checking tickets and doling out $75 fines to adults and $55 fines to minors…(more)

Your very friendly BART has growing plans. They are growing more employees who need to justify their positions by handing out tickets. Better hope the scanners work better than the Muni ones do.

Feinstein proposes new bridge across the Bay Feinstein proposes new bridge across the Bay

By Emiy Mibach : dailypost – excerpt (includes map)

southern-crossing

Illustration by MTC

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is pushing to have a new bridge constructed across the Bay, midway between the Bay Bridge and the San Mateo Bridge, in the hopes of alleviating congestion on those two bridges.

Feinstein, along with Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, sent a letter Wednesday (Dec. 6) to Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive Director Steve Heminger in support of the new bridge, which has been discussed for decades. Over the years, it’s become known as the “Southern Crossing.”

Their letter also says that MTC’s plan to put a $3 toll increase on the state-owned Bay Bridges won’t “come anywhere close” to reducing congestion on the Bay or San Mateo bridges.

Feinstein and DeSaulnier also want to put BART on the new southern crossing bridge…(more)

BART’s new cars finally pass safety tests, on track to roll by Thanksgiving

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

BART’s sleek new railcars finally passed safety tests over the weekend — months behind schedule — and are on track to start carrying commuters around Thanksgiving, transit officials said Monday.

John Garnham, project manager for BART’s new fleet, said the first 10 new cars, which have undergone rigorous testing and subsequent fixes for the past year and a half, completed the last of a lengthy checklist of tests and requirements on Saturday… (more)

These are the 5 biggest Bay Area transportation infrastructure projects

by Judy Cooper : bizjournals – excerpt (includes a slide show)

  1. Transbay Terminal/Caltrain Downtown Extention Phase 1 : $2.26 billion
  2. BART Railcar procurement program : $2.03 billion
  3. Caltrain Electrification : $1.98 billion
  4. Muni Third Street Light Rail Phase 2 Central Subway : $1.58 billion
  5. Toll Bridge Rehabilitation Program : $892.09 million

With San Francisco traffic congestion recently ranking as the fourth worst in the world and one poll showing 70 percent of locals are willing to pay higher taxes for a solution, it’s safe to say many Bay Area residents are fed up with their commute.

Several large-scale transportation infrastructure projects aim to alleviate some of that frustration. In this Friday’s issue of the San Francisco Business Times we spotlight the 25 biggest transportation projects underway in the region.

Projects on the List are ranked by total cost. All together, the top 25 projects are valued at some $14.1 billion combined. Data for the List was obtained from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission(more)

State Seeks Hefty Fine For BART in Deaths of Two Workers

Jaxon Van Derbeken reports for ncb investigates : nbcbayarea – excerpt (includes video)

State regulators want to fine the transit agency for alleged safety lapses in the deaths of two track workers hit by a train during a strike in 2013. NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit obtained BART’s own surveillance video of the accident that shows how the rookie operator tried but failed to sound the horn before hitting the workers… (more)

Some Problems Plaguing BART Were Built Into System From Start

Design decisions made decades ago at the origin of BART now haunt the system, making it more difficult and more costly to operate, officials with the transit agency say.

Designed at the beginning of the Space Age, the people who built BART wanted an ultramodern transportation system. The first transit system to be built after World War II, the goal was to create a sleek, light and smooth riding system. The hope was to draw people back into public transit – using large, tinted windows, wool seats and carpeting and promising speeds of up to 80 mph.

“It wasn’t too far away from the monorail idea,’’ said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, “where families would go on BART like it was kind of a Disneyland ride — you would get on it was almost luxurious in its feel.”

Luxury may have been built in, but the idea of routine failure was not, said BART Operations Manager Paul Oversier.

“Because in the aerospace business failure equals catastrophe well in our business failure is a fact of life,” he said.

Oversier, who came to BART after helping to run the New York subway system, said that system has a whole different approach. It was built to handle failure.

They have express tracks and local tracks they have crossovers almost between every station,” he said. Crossovers are mechanical and electrical switches that allow trains to be routed around problems. BART’s are few and far between, and, according to Oversier: “the ones that we do have are basically in the wrong locations.”

Not having such switches is most problematic in the core part of the system, from West Oakland to Daly City. Here, four lines with trains running every two and half minutes converge to run in one track in each direction. “Basically, if anything happens in that core part of the system,” Oversier said, “the delays to our passengers ad to other trains propagate very quickly and impact many, many trains.”.

The bottleneck was something the designers did not anticipate, one of many design limitations that now hamstring operators.

“A lot of decisions made 50 years ago about this system really limit what we can do today,” said Tom Radulovich, a 19-year member of the BART governing board. The use of ultra- lightweight aluminum cars gliding along on extra-wide gauge tracks at up to 80 mph, he said, had unforeseen consequences.

“We couldn’t order off-the-shelf rail cars – they had to be custom designed, we had to have them custom made,” he said, referring to the latest order of new train cars expected to come on line as soon as next year. He said the new cars cost nearly double the price of more conventional rail cars, which are made of stainless steel and can be mass produced.

Radulovich says nearly all of BART is one of a kind… (more)

RELATED:
‘No Guarantee’ That New BART Trains Will Fix Problem

BART gets real on social media; now it’s Muni’s turn

By : sfexaminer -excerpt

BART’s brutal honesty about its budget shortfalls went viral across the country last week, and now it’s Muni’s turn to step into the social media spotlight.

BART suffered electrical troubles last Wednesday in the East Bay, which sent 50 malfunctioning trains out of service and spawned the usual social media anger.

This time, though, BART tweeted something unexpected to its critics: honesty.

“BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality,” the agency tweeted to its detractors and 135,000 followers.

The direct tone from a public agency spawned coverage from The New York Times, which called it “extreme candor.” A headline from national blog Gawker proclaimed, “Wow – Finally Some Honesty From Government.”

Now, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency may have a lofty new bar to live up to, in terms of government frankness…

Among the new budget proposals are offering a 25-cent discount to those who use Clipper Cards instead of cash, redefining youth for certain Muni discounts from 17 to 18, raising fares on seniors and those with disabilities who receive discounts, and increasing the cost of monthly passes that include BART access by five dollars.

One set of costs is not changeable — the “automatic indexed” fare increases.

In 2017 and 2018, Muni will increase most fares, which, by law, rise with inflation. Adult fast passes with BART access will jump from $83 this year to $89 by 2018, according to the SFMTA…(more)