Report from Union City: “City Hall looks Back”

Despite its mega-freeways, the Bay Area is the second or third most traffic-choked region in the entire country. So why do we have such bad traffic and why do larger cities with smaller roads have better mobility?

Perhaps the problem is that roads are virtually all we have. Like a foolish investor, maybe we’ve placed most of our eggs in one basket; namely in a transportation straightjacket that makes most of us overly dependent upon auto travel, to the point where much of the Region is now saturated in cars. What little mass transit we have is fragmented and often unreliable; a far cry from the world class network of trains and buses the Region needs and deserves. As a result, most Bay Area residents are forced to haul bulky personal vehicles with them virtually everywhere they go. Anyone who thinks that this is a good way of to get 4 million bay area employees to their jobs every day just isn’t paying attention. Continue reading

Why is Bay Area Land Use Planning and Transportation in such Disarray?

Life in the Bay Area is getting worse, not better. The housing agonies increase, the commute trips get longer and the highway backups and urban traffic congestion become increasingly oppressive. Unfortunately the local and regional agencies involved in public infrastructure seem unable to deliver the smart infrastructure improvements needed to make things better. And yet without agency change there can be no resolution of the Region’s land use and transportation problems.

How did a wealthy, environmentally and tech-savvy region get so burdened with governmental dysfunction? To answer that question it is necessary to first examine the way things are in more detail. Continue reading

SFMTA Not Focusing on What’s Most Important

In recent years the SFMTA has often yielded to the demands of assorted pressure groups. In so doing it appears to have lost sight of the big picture. Here are excerpts from what letter-writer “Shamelessly” had to say on the subject in a recent issue of Streetsblog:

“…. Residents concerns should be heard……but unless a fundamental issue of justice is raised or a [positive] compromise found…residents should be expected to adjust to [productive] changes….there’s a balance to strike, and right now it’s too often weighted in favor of the loud voices of people who simply don’t like change or [remain committed to the complete and free use of the private automobile over all over considerations]. That balance needs to shift.”

Who Should be Sponsoring DTX?

Caltrain1In recent years San Francisco City Hall has taken a lot of heat from BATWG and other groups for its lack of commitment to bringing the Caltrain trains downtown and into the new Salesforce Transit Center. While past and present municipal officials have often been effusive in their praise of the extension project (DTX), no one actually does much. The City of San Francisco’s financial contribution to the new Transit Center and DTX extension stands at less 2% of the project cost, compared to its 37% allocation to the Third Street/Central Subway project.  In any event, for whatever reason the government of San Francisco has been unable to advance DTX. Continue reading

Security versus Privacy on Transit

At a time when Bay Area traffic congestion has become the 2nd or 3rd worst in the entire country it is disturbing to find transit ridership dropping. In order to reverse this destructive trend a greater effort must be made to identify, reduce and ultimately eliminate the factors that are causing people to turn away from transit-riding at a time when more transit riding is needed. These factors include slow speeds, unreliability, wait times, gaps in service, lack of comprehensiveness and the sometimes bad behavior of people at bus stops, in stations and on transit vehicles. In this article we will deal with the behavior problems that scare off or otherwise deter many would-be transit riders.

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Bay Area Transportation won’t get Better until Government gets Better

Bay Area Transportation won’t get Better until Government gets better.
It was recently noted that until local and regional transportation agencies become functional the Bay Area’s transportation problems will just get worse. Not every agency in the Bay Area is dysfunctional but quite a few engaged in the transportation field are. Here are five examples. We will have more to say on this subject in subsequent editions of this Newsletter.

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