When it comes to approving ballot measures designed to advance Bay Area transportation capital improvements, voters used have reasonable confidence that for the most part the funds raised would be spent on projects of merit and public usefulness. Unfortunately, that confidence has ebbed away.
A Case in Point: The 1.3-mile extension of Caltrain has merit because the project would complete the popular and successful 78-mile Caltrain commuter and intercity rail line. This extension into the waiting Salesforce Transit Center would bring together four BART lines, six Muni subway lines, the California cable car line and Caltrain, as well as Muni’s Market Street F streetcar line and roughly 40 bus lines, all in a major employment center that now includes 19 close-by new highrises and tens of thousands of new transit-oriented housing units. For these reasons it should be getting top billing, but it’s not.
What it lacks is a committed, determined and persuasive advocacy by the local and regional officials, and by the influential public and private organizations that could give it the push needed to stay in competition with lesser but more effectively-backed projects.
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Closing the gaps between transit lines has long been recognized as a key inducement to attract new transit riders. The people of San Francisco knew this way back in 1999 when they voted overwhelmingly for extending Caltrain. But thanks to a unaccountable lack of local and regional commitment, the DTX project has been downgraded and put off….again.
END OF NEWSLETTER NO. 46