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BATWG

The Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) is an all volunteer organization formed in 2012 to keep up with and respond to ongoing Bay Area transportation issues and events.

Our primary objective is to find ways of easing regional traffic congestion by improving the reliability and general appeal of the Region’s passenger rail and bus systems. BATWG is dedicated to working with like-minded groups to bring about these needed changes.

The Untold Stories…..

RM3 Approved…..the Aftermath

RM3 was accepted by the voters of the Bay Area on June 5, 2018. This has created a gigantic $4.45 billion slush fund for regional planners to dispense. Considering that the “Yes on RM3” side outspent the “No” side by least 250 to 1 and yet won by a scant 53.9%, the “Yes” side has little to cheer about. Especially since the votes for successive regional transportation funding measures have been dropping.

As might be expected, non-bridge users voted mostly for RM3 and frequent bridge users voted mostly against it. All else aside, RM3 was patently unfair in terms of who pays and who gets the proceeds of the bridge toll increases.

In addition, the RM3 bridge toll increases are being improperly treated as fees (requiring a 50% vote) when they are in fact taxes (requiring a 2/3rd vote).  On November 5, 1997 the Californa voters passed State Proposition 218 which added Article 13C to the California Constitution.  According to Article 13C a bridge toll increase is a fee only “if it is imposed for the exclusive privilege of the payor (driver & passengers)…”  Since the sponsors of RM3 plan to use the bridge toll increases to pay for expensive projects scattered around the Region including in areas where most of the voters virtually never use the bridges, the proceeds of RM3 are clearly not fees.  Since this puts RM3 in direct violation of Article 13C and since the measure passed by 53.9%, not 2/3rds it should be nullified by the Courts.

Another equally fundamental defect in RM3 is that it neither reduces regional traffic congestion nor bolsters the Region’s lagging public transit networks. There are a few worthwhile projects in RM3, but there are also many turkeys.  RM3 loosely defines 35 projects. Here are some highlighted allocations:

  • BART and Muni fleet replacement: $500 million and $140 million (this is needed)
    Caltrain Downtown Extension: $325 million (also needed)
  • Capitol Corridor Upgrade and Dumbarton Rail Crossing: $90million and $130 million (also needed but the allocations are much too small)
  • Ferrys: $300 million (incredibly, 7.3% of RM3 has been allocated to a system that accounts for only 0.05% of Bay Area trips)
  • BART to San Jose: $375 million (needed perhaps, but the anticipated ridership comes no where close to justifying the cost)
  • Fourteen backward-looking, traffic-inducing highway projects: $2,390 million
  • Vaguely defined transit, transit access and trails improvements: 4 projects; $615 million
  • RM3 allocations lavished upon non-bridge using Santa Clara County: $755 million

Do we think that RM3 will cause the highway backups and the urban congestion to ease? No….we don’t.  Do we think that the increased bridge tolls are taxes and not fees  and that therefore RM3 violates the State Constitution?  Yes we do.

San Francisco’s Central Subway Problems Persist

Have you ever wondered how the Central Subway project, a 1.7-mile rail extension of Muni’s Third Street line from Fourth and King to Chinatown, managed to get so bollixed up? Here’s a brief history of what happened:

At the end of 2017, it was announced the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway manager, John Funghi, was leaving his post for the $1.6 billion project to work on Caltrain electrification. His departure came shortly after Tutor-Perini, the station contractor, released a report Nov. 1, 2017, showing that the project is more than two years behind schedule and burdened with more than 1,300 construction contractor claims outstanding — only 73 of which had at that time been addressed by the SFMTA — leaving the remaining 94 percent awaiting “processing.”

According to the Contractor the trains operating in the over-priced, limited-capacity system won’t be rolling into Chinatown before the Spring of 2021, at least 29 months behind schedule.  What happened?  How could this be?! Read More Here

BART Rejects Overpriced BART/Livermore Extension  

Following is a response by the Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) to BART’s analysis of the alternative ways of improving access to the BART system from Livermore and the rest of eastern Alameda County:

In 1963 the voters of the three original BART Counties; namely Alameda, San Francisco and Contra Costa, formed the BART District and have been paying taxes into the system ever since.

At the BART Board hearing on May 24, 2018 a number of Livermore residents voiced their strong desire for BART to be extended 5 miles from the existing East Dublin BART station to Isabel Avenue in Livermore at a cost of $1.635 billion.  And that would be fine, if money were no object.  But money is an object.  In fact it’s in short supply and the existing BART system has many maintenance and improvement needs that go unmet for the lack of funding.

At the hearing, a number of individuals and groups from other parts of the BART District presented the following case for a cheaper and more practical Express-Bus Alternative:  Read More Here.

Getting DTX Underway

The Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) has long supported the Caltrain Downtown Extension project (DTX). For the last 40 months the Mission Bay RAB study has unnecessarily delayed and disrupted DTX, a project defined by the SF voters way back in November 1999 as being of the highest priority.

Unfortunately the disruption is continuing. Thanks to the costs and other obstacles recently heaped upon DTX, it would likely take another generation or two to get the trains into downtown San Francisco. Here are some ways of accelerating the process: Read More Here.