The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) released its draft Bay Area 2050 Plan on July 8, 2020. Following that milestone, public review and comment over the summer led to modifications and additions that are now being incorporated. These modifications escalated the Plan’s price tag by $668 billion, demonstrating the challenge of building support among the 100 government entities around the Bay. The final Plan Bay Area 2050 is expected to be adopted by the fall of 2021.
The Plan anticipates that the nine-county Bay Area will add 2.5 million new residents and 1.33 million new jobs between 2020 and 2050. The Plan envisions that by 2050 the Bay Area will be affordable, connected, diverse, healthy and vibrant. These aspirations are expressed through thirty-five strategies defined as policies or bundles of investments, clustered under eleven categories:
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- Transportation: Maintain and Operate the Existing System
- Transportation: Create Healthy and Safe Streets
- Transportation: Build a Next-Generation Transit Network –
- Housing: Protect and Preserve Affordable Housing
- Housing: Spur Housing Production at All Income Levels
- Housing: Create Inclusive Communities
- Economy: Improve Economic Mobility
- Economy: Shift the Location of Jobs
- Environment: Reduce Risks from Hazards
- Environment: Expand Access to Parks and Open Space
- Environment: Reduce Climate Emissions
The adopted strategies seek to confront five dominant challenges for the region: Insufficient affordable housing, excessive greenhouse gas emissions, congestion and transit crowding, job-housing imbalance, and displacement risk.
What is in the Final Blueprint?
MTC has taken some bold and innovative steps in Plan 2050. Two particular actions can be expected to foster intense debate before reaching an implementation stage.
The first is a recommendation of all-lane tolling on freeways with parallel high performance transit services. This proposal is the backbone for funding transport improvements throughout the region and would improve transit speeds in clogged Bay Area corridors. BATWG has long supported highway tolling. The second proposal would impose a work-from-home mandate for larger employers. The coronavirus pandemic in conjunction with remarkable advances in communication technology has demonstrated the viability of this approach. In combination, these two proposals would both reduce regional congestion and help to finance better train, bus and ferryboat service.
A third element of the plan is a marked intensification of residential density near large employment clusters and important high-frequency transit lines. . These presumptions anticipate that people will be attracted to housing nearer work sites and transit nodes, and result in significant increases in transit’s share of commuter travel. A companion proposal would set aside $107 billion to address the Region’s chronic shortage of affordable housing for low income residents. A central element of these proposals is a strong and long-needed emphasis on reducing the distances between jobs and housing.
Transportation is the largest investment element in the Plan. It calls for large investments in rail infrastructure. Included projects are a new Bay rail crossing, increased Caltrain service, the long awaited extension of Caltrain into downtown San Francisco, extensive BART upgrades and the opening of Santa Clara County BART service, a rail link connecting San Joaquin County to the East Dublin BART station, more ACE commuter rail service, and a new passenger rail connection across the Dumbarton Straits from the East Bay to the Redwood City Caltrain Station.
What Will the Plan Cost?
The composite cost of the Plan as adjusted this last summer is $1.385 billion, with about $603 (44%) coming from existing resources and $782 billion from new sources. The cost breakdown is:
Transportation $ 581 billion
Housing $ 468 billion
Economy $ 234 billion
Environment $ 102 billion
A Complex Process ….. More to Come
BATWG salutes the Plan for its comprehensiveness and bold initiatives, some of which are long overdue. In general its initiatives respond comprehensively to the Region’s need for better transportation, better housing including affordable housing, better land use policy, more appropriate transport-pricing and more support for low income households. It also puts appropriate emphasis on improving our ability to respond effectively to natural disasters and sea-level rise. Implementing the plan will be like completing a 2,567,694 piece jigsaw puzzle. BATWG will continue to monitor, evaluate and when possible support this process. As things progress additional articles about the plan will appear in forthcoming issues of the BATWG Newsletter.