More Trouble Ahead for SF City Hall’s Central Subway

Project Management Oversight Consultants (PMOC’s) are retained by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to keep track of major projects paid for in part by FTA grants.  In the case of the Central Subway its PMOC has been warning of staffing, scheduling and other difficulties for years, warnings that the SFMTA has consistently ignored or downplayed, and was still doing as recently as two months ago.

Howard Wong, San Francisco architect and strong long time advocate for better transportation sums up the situation well:  “Anyone reading Federal PMOC Reports, over the last year(s), would have seen ominous construction conditions—masked by rosy SFMTA forecasts. Remember that the recent testing/commissioning of the new LRV’s & BART cars involved long delays.  And the Central Subway requires testing/commissioning/training for complex systems: stations, trains, operations, maintenance and more.”  Continue reading

Unethical Public Agency Behavior

The State Fair Political Practices Commission has just opened a new investigation of whether or not another set of Bay Area public agencies illegally used public resources for political purposes.  This time the State’s action is directed at MTC, BATA and AC Transit for their behavior during last year’s Regional Measure 3 campaign.  (Unless RM3 is struck down by the Courts, assorted Bay Area agencies will soon begin spending most of the $4.45 billion raised by bridge toll increases on 35 selected transportation projects, a few of which are worthwhile but most of which are either wasteful or counterproductive.  The resulting RM3 mishmash would do little to either improve the Region’s currently-disjointed network of trains, buses and ferry boats or reduce highway backups)

Regardless of what the courts decide, the RM3 campaign provides further

substantiation of why so many people in the greater Bay Area no longer trust their local and regional agencies to behave ethically and in the public interest.

Below are few of the ethical and organizational standards that are too often ignored:

Continue reading

$100,000,000,000 to Fix Bay Area Transportation?

Matthew Lituchy, Chief Investment Officer of a major Bay Area development company, was recently asked how he felt about placing large commercial and residential projects adjacent to transit. Here are excerpts from his response as printed in the San Jose Mercury on July 7, 2019: “Traditional methods of commuting have gotten over-stressed. Our freeways are impossibly clogged with traffic. Commute durations are at all-time highs. People are looking to commute by alternative methods. Trains, light rail, Caltrain, bus, BART are the alternatives. Being in a place where you can easily move around the Bay Area, and both live and work close to these modes of transportation is important”.

Mr. Lituchy’s concerns are shared by millions of other Bay Area residents.

On May 30, 2019, at the Alameda County Transportation Commission retreat, a new plan to raise up to $100 billion to address the Bay Area’s ever worsening transportation condition was unveiled. The Plan, which has apparently been under discussion in private circles for some time, was presented and explained by Bay Council CEO John Grubb; Council Senior VP, Linda Lynn Litvak; Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) VP Jason Baker, and former Transform Executive Director Stuart Cohen.

Problem.pngSince the Plan is still in its earliest stages, the presentation was limited mostly to a description of the Region’s existing transportation problems and the Plan’s strategic, outreach and funding goals and objectives. As Mr. Baker of the SVLG put it, “…..we think the time is ripe to work for a world class, more integrated transit system that is faster, more reliable, more affordable and more equitable for the Bay Area”. Continue reading

Regional Watchdog

In the Bay Area local and regional transportation and land use policies evolve continuously. These policies and their impact upon the region are usually discussed in public meetings convened by public agencies. Sometimes these meetings are adequately publicized and sometimes they aren’t. Certain public agencies are notorious for releasing only the rosiest of scenarios for public consumption.

By video-recording as many of these important public meetings as possible, videographer Ken Bukowski has devoted himself to making certain the public is given an opportunity to see what’s actually going on. To accomplish this Mr. Bukowski spends many hours a week carrying his recording equipment across the region to capture important meetings and events. Continue reading

Open Letter to the BART Board Members: No Increase on Fares

Honorable Members of the BART Board of Directors
300 Lakeside Drive
Oakland CA 94612

Dear Members of the BART Board:

The Bay Area Transportation Working Group calls upon the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Board of Directors to not increase fares for the upcoming fiscal year.

As a coalition of transportation experts with decades of collective experience working on large projects and with transit operators, including virtually all the major operators in the Bay Area, we are well aware that BART is facing numerous challenges and is in the constant position of all transit operators of not having sufficient funds to do everything that everyone would have to have done; however, a fare increase would be highly inappropriate at this time for the following reasons: Continue reading