This BATWG letter makes the case for placing the DTX project at the highest level in the competition for local, private, regional, State and federal funding:
July 16, 2022
Theresa Romell, MTC Director of Funding Policy and Programs
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
San Francisco Ca 94105
Subject: Elevating DTX to MTC Tier 1, Level 1
Dear Ms. Romell,
The initiatives taken by MTC in recent months are most encouraging. Your agency appears to be making a concerted effort to ensure that transportation funding goes to the projects with the highest potential for benefiting the region as opposed to perhaps well intentioned agency or local program that fall short in that regard. Equally important is to ensure that agencies, especially those with very large undertakings, administer their projects efficiently. The efforts that you and MTC are making to bring these changes about are supported and appreciated.
Given the more than 40 speakers who spoke at the July 13, 2022 Programs and Allocations Committee meeting, the one minute time limit per speaker was understandable. However it left quite a bit unsaid. As you know, virtually everyone who testified on the 13th was strongly in favor of placing the Downtown Extension of Caltrain in Level 1. Following are some points we’d like to emphasize:
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The regional value and cost-effectiveness of a project counts for much more than how much money has been raised or is yet to be raised. As you know well, getting the evaluation criteria right is difficult. Many of the priority decisions the Region is facing are both complex and subjective and therefore don’t always lend themselves to quantification.
- On November 9, 1999 the people of San Francisco overwhelmingly voted for DTX. They wanted it then and they still want it now.
- The DTX team has already raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars for DTX engineering elements such as the train box, real estate acquisition, station space, architectural features, etc. What exists today is a bus/rail terminal, not just a bus terminal. This past work cannot be ignored.
- DTX’s regional and general benefits are very high. Surveys show that the number one reason people keep driving is that “transit doesn’t get me to where I want to go”. DTX addresses this problem in a powerful and dramatic way. Bringing Caltrain, HSR, 4 BART lines, six Muni lines and over 40 bus lines together in the middle of a 300,000 plus employment center adjacent to tens of thousands of transit-oriented housing is no small thing. Efficient connections between rail and bus lines will create thousands of new non-automotive travel opportunities and will therefore resonate with travelers of every stripe.
- Despite its social problems (which recent events suggest may be getting addressed), San Francisco remains one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world. For this reason it has always been and should remain a major tourist magnet. People elsewhere in the world are far more inclined than Americans are to travel by train. Creating a major transit hub in downtown San Francisco will pay big economic and environmental dividends for San Francisco, the Region and the rest of Northern California.
- One might ask why the three Caltrain counties have at times held back. That’s because none of them has ever really owned the project. Serving three MTC Counties, DTX is and has always been a regional project in need of strong regional support. Credit goes to the TJPA, SFCTA, Caltrain, Samtrans and Santa Clara County. In recent months they have pulled together and are now jointly engaged in advancing the project. But they need help, especially when it comes to fund-raising. It appears that significant untapped opportunities in this area remain.
It is vitally important that DTX’s value to the region and to the world be taken fully into account.
Gerald Cauthen P.E.
President, Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG)
510 708 7880
Adam Van de Water