BATWG:  The Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) is an all volunteer organization established in 2012 to keep up with and respond to important Bay Area transportation issues and events. Our primary objective is to find ways of easing regional traffic congestion by improving the reliability and appeal of Bay Area passenger rail and bus systems. BATWG is dedicated to working with like-minded groups to bring about these needed changes.

An Open Letter to SFMTA Director

October 11, 2018

Dear Ed…

Thanks for attending and joining in at the September 29th Transportation Forum. Your participation was clearly appreciated. The outline below was what BATWG had expected to present at the Forum. The proposals reflect some of what’s needed to strengthen the SFMTA and improve the City’s response to its overall transportation problem. We hope they are of use:

A. The SFMTA Board

Granting the MTA immunity from day-to-day political influence (through SF Prop E adopted in 1999 and SF Prop A adopted in 2007) was probably a good idea.  However 4-year terms for appointed local officials is too long. The elected Mayor and Supervisors should be able to intercede when necessary every two years. The terms of the MTA’s appointive Board members should be reduced from 4 years to 2. Being an MTA Board member is a difficult and demanding job. All seven members of the MTA Board must therefore be strong and committed individuals. Click here to read more.

DTX Update

October 6, 2018

The extension of Caltrain into downtown San Francisco is currently derailed.

Nineteen years have passed since the passage of SF Prop H. On November 9, 1999, 69.3% of the voters defined the downtown extension of Caltrain (DTX) as San Francisco’s No. One transportation priority. The first Federal grant allocated to help build the Transbay Transit Center/Downtown Extension Project arrived two decades ago. In 2010 the Obama Administration approved an additional $400 million to pay for the construction of the huge 70-foot deep passenger train station beneath Transbay Transit Center (now called Salesforce Transit Center) at First and Mission Streets. The State of California kicked in by transferring 19 acres of State-owned downtown San Francisco land to the City, which has brought about the construction of 19 separate high rise buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Center.

The longer the extension of Caltrain is delayed, the more the Sales Force Transit Center (SFTC) will come to be regarded as a betrayal of public trust, an improper use of State and Federal transportation grants and a waste of money.
August saw the opening of the SFTC. Despite the recent structural “chall
enges”, all who have passed through the facility have applauded its open and inviting design. In addition its unique rooftop public park has quickly become a neighborhood icon, a popular lunch destination for nearby office workers and a major stopping point for tourists and many others. But something’s missing. There are no trains and, as a result San Francisco’s outstanding high-volume intermodal terminal appears destined to operate at far below its design capacity for years if not decades to come.

On the bright side, when the trains finally do get to downtown San Francisco there will be an immediate mode shift from auto travel to train travel. When the tens of thousands of new train riders begin passing through the new Transit Center and underground pedestrian ramps to the heart of the Financial and the Market Street subways, the SFTC will come to life and take its place among the great passenger rail melting pots of the world. The creation of a comfortable and reliable passenger rail alternative to the ever growing number of daily automobiles flooding onto San Francisco’s streets is long overdue. Click here to continue reading.

A Letter to MTC Commissioners and ABAG Executive Board Members

October 6, 2018

To MTC Commissioners and ABAG Executive Board members:

An important and difficult decision is before you; namely, the selection of the next MTC Executive Director. The Region is currently afflicted with chronic gridlock and a badly disconnected patchwork of trains, buses and boats. To ensure that the best possible candidates are identified and screened for the job, BATWG strongly recommends that this important selection be pursuant to a through and professional national search conducted by objective individuals highly experienced in the field. The process should also be informed by input from the MTC Board, ABAG, the local jurisdictions, the transit agencies and other stakeholders.

In an effort to inform the selection process we cite the successful tenure of Paul C. Watt, MTC’s first Executive Director. Here are some of the qualities that helped Mr. Watt to introduce and successfully promote the concept of regionalism to the Greater Bay Area. Click here to continue reading.

RM3: HJTA Files Suit!

On Thursday July 5, 2018, the Howard Jarvis Tax Association and three individuals filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the Bay Bridge Toll Authority (BATA), the California State Legislature and “all persons interested in the matter of Regional Measure 3”

Regional Measure 3 (RM3) was adopted by 53.7% of the Bay Area voters on June 5, 2018. It raises the tolls on Bay Area bridges by $3 plus additional increases in accordance with inflation. The Plaintiff’s suit is based upon the fact that by defining the Bay Bridge toll increases as “fees” (requiring a majority vote) rather than “taxes” (requiring a two-thirds vote), the Defendants violated the California Constitution as updated by the California voters on November 2, 2010. Click here to read more.