Cause: Dysfunctional Public Institutions / Effect: Regional Transportation in Shambles

For the last 8 years BATWG volunteers have worked to improve Bay Area transportation. In the process we’ve come to realize that in the Nine County Greater Bay Area, many of the region’s jurisdictions and large public agencies are failing to deliver effective transportation solutions and that without significant governmental change there is little chance of their doing so in the future.

Here are a few examples of how and where things have gone awry:

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Transportation: COVID-19, the Aftermath

Sooner or later things will get back to “normal.” Or will they? What will the new normal be? Will people revert to their previous practice of traveling alone even if it means more years of 3 and 4 stressful hours a day lost to commuting? It’s an open question. Some people are finding that they much prefer working at home to traveling to distant and perhaps risky offices. But is it practical to work at home? Can people be as productive? What about the small city businesses that depend upon an incoming flood of commuters every day? Who gets hurt in case many office workers are located elsewhere?

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The Housing/Transportation Crisis: Next Steps

The Current Approach: Right now everything is in an existential muddle. Some say that jamming high density housing near transit stops in established neighborhoods will solve the problem. This lunacy is based upon the false premise that putting housing near transit will by itself ease traffic. Others say that continuing to permit each town and city to set its own zoning and land use standards is the most democratic, and therefore the only way to go. And then there are those who have convinced themselves that to accommodate increasing population, the growth of the sprawling low-density suburbs should continue indefinitely. (If clogged highways and insufferably long commute times was the objective then this approach has worked brilliantly. However if there are ever to be short commute times and an easing of gridlock it will require a new and more enlightened approach.) Still others are demanding that the large corporations whose hordes of incoming employees largely caused the current mess should step up to the plate and fix it. (It has been suggested that the only time California’s metropolitan highways work is during a pandemic.) Each of these approaches responds to the Bay Area’s Housing/Transportation Crisis in a different way. Taken alone, none of them makes any sense and none is acceptable.

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