Does the BART Board protect the Riders?

How do most BART riders feel about the fare evasion and bad and often illegal behavior that is frequently experienced on BART trains and in and around BART stations? It appears that certain members of BART’s Board of Directors members are convinced that most BART riders don’t mind. Unfortunately there is still no definitive data on the subject. However, from talking to friends, family members and other BART riders we’ve found that many people who would like to ride BART and who should be riding BART are responding to these adverse conditions by turning to less efficient and less environmentally-benign forms of travel.

The brand of disruptive chaos that often mars BART travel is seldom seen in privately-owned establishments, or even in public ones for that matter. Walk into any City Hall. Except for the occasional protest, things tend to be calm and orderly.
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A Fresh New Approach at samTrans

Over the last 30 years, much of what has been ballyhooed in the Bay Area as transportation capital improvement has turned out to be special-interest/ pet parochial projects of small consequence and highway expansions accommodating increased Bay Area traffic.

For this reason, when something positive occurs it deserves recognition. On November 6, 2018, the voters of San Mateo County approved Measure W which, through a ½ % county sales tax increase, will provide about $40 million a year to pay for various for improvements to the San Mateo County Transportation Agency (SamTrans).  Along with Caltrain, SamTrans buses provide transit service throughout the Peninsula as well as north-south connections between Santa Clara County, San Mateo County and San Francisco County.

On August 23, 2019 SF Examiner reporter Joe Rodriquez summarized some interesting new steps that SanTrans is taking to make its service more visible and more relevant to riders and would-be riders in the West Bay.

SamTrans’s actions are focused on meeting six simple but practical objectives; namely:

            Provide Mobility Options for Regional Trips
            Increase Market Share in Corridor
            Develop a Cost-Effective System
            Improve Transportation Equity
            Enhance Access to Jobs and Population Centers
            Support Sustainable Land Use and Transportation Policies

As part of its program for increasing market share, SamTrans is seeking to attract both more reverse direction riders during peak commute hours, and more off-peak riders.

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Getting DTX Back on Track

Connecting the 78-mile long Caltrain line via a 1.3 mile extension to the nine Muni and BART subway lines, the Market streetcars and dozens of bus lines in downtown San Francisco has been a San Francisco transportation objective for over 40 years. In 1999 the voters of San Francisco approved the idea by an overwhelming 69.3%. Since then tens of thousands of new transit-oriented housing units and 19 major highrise buildings either already exist or are under development in the immediate vicinity of the new Salesforce Transit Center.

Yet the Center’s vast underground train levels sit bleak and empty awaiting the arrival of passenger trains to link Silicon Valley, the San Mateo Peninsula and downtown San Francisco. Recently, thanks in large part to conflicts among various elements of San Francisco’s government, the Caltrain extension project (DTX) appears to have once again ground to a halt. Continue reading

An Update of BATWG’s Suggestions for Increasing AC Transit Ridership

Since its inception in 2012 BATWG has repeatedly called for significant changes to AC’s east bay and transbay operations designed to increase ridership. In last month’s BATWG Newsletter we listed 11 of the major gaps in the Region’s network of trains and buses that are deterring people from curtailing their commute driving. Here are Gaps 7 and 8:

7. “Needed: a major improvement in AC Transit’s current very low appeal to would-be riders who are not transit-dependent. Catering only to the transit-dependent is no longer adequate, if it ever was. In the Bay Area there are simply too many riders of choice to ignore.”

8. “Thanks in part to decades of inaction on the part of MTC, it is now unlikely that the Central Bay Area will see another subaqueous rail tube before 2060. Unless AC Transit invigorates its transbay bus service, getting between Oakland and San Francisco will become increasingly difficult.”

The following letter to the AC Transit Board outlines our current thinking on the matter: Continue reading

Gaps

Supposing the first two sentences of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address had read like this?

“Four score and seven _________ our
______________forth____________ on ____________,
a new _________ in
Liberty, and dedicated to the
____________that all
_______________. Now we are
________ in a great _______,
____________that nation, or any
nation_________, can long _________.”

With such gaps, the Gettysburg Address would never have become one of the most enduring and beloved axioms in human history.

The damage done to the Gettysburg Address by the above omissions is analogous to the damage done to a region when there are major gaps in its network of trains and buses. There is no better way to illustrate the dismal effect on Bay Area travelers and public mobility of such gaps than by simply listing them: Continue reading