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


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

BART-to-San Jose Extension….More of the Same?

Bay Area transportation infrastructure projects tend to cost much more than expected (and in some cases more than necessary) and invariably take much longer than expected to complete. It appears that the Phase II BART subway proposed for San Jose may be no exception.

Map.pngThe following critique responds to the presentation made to the BART & VTA  “Special Committee” meeting at BART’s Oakland Headquarters on May 31, 2019. Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is proceeding with its 16 mile long, two-phased extension of BART from the current Warms Springs terminal through San Jose to a future terminal station in Santa Clara. Phase I, covering the first 10 miles of the project will be constructed mostly on viaduct and include the Milpitas and Berryessa Stations. Phase II will proceed from Berryessa for six miles in mostly subway and include the Alum Rock, Downtown San Jose, Diridon and Santa Clara stations. Phase II is where things really get expensive. According to the EIR, the total cost of Phase II is projected to be $4.7 billion. It is anticipated that bottom of the tunnel extending for five of the six miles of this phase will be 121 feet below street grade (equivalent to the height of a twelve story building) and that the tunnel hole needed for the entire 5 miles will be 55 feet 10 inches in diameter. This raises several important questions: Continue reading

The SFMTA and What to Do About It: Excerpts from Letter sent to Marc Salomon

Excerpts from Letter sent to Marc Salomon on May 9, 2019

Subject: The SFMTA and What to Do About It

Dear Marc,

Your article in today’s Examiner about the SFMTA’s change of leadership was most welcome because the questions you raised demonstrate that the usual response to agency dysfunction; namely, replacing the top guy, and sometimes adding money, isn’t enough. For over two years the Transportation Alliance of San Francisco (TAOSF) and BATWG have been pointing out that:

a.) the Director of the SFMTA was spread too thin, partly but not entirely because of his tendency to give too much priority to peripheral issues rather than to the main objective of optimizing San Francisco’s collective means of travel, easing congestion and effectively managing SFMTA contracts, Continue reading