RM3: HJTA Files Suit!

On Thursday July 5, 2018, the Howard Jarvis Tax Association and three individuals filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the Bay Bridge Toll Authority (BATA), the California State Legislature and “all persons interested in the matter of Regional Measure 3”

Regional Measure 3 (RM3) was adopted by 53.7% of the Bay Area voters on June 5, 2018. It raises the tolls on Bay Area bridges by $3 plus additional increases in accordance with inflation. The Plaintiff’s suit is based upon the fact that by defining the Bay Bridge toll increases as “fees” (requiring a majority vote) rather than “taxes” (requiring a two-thirds vote), the Defendants violated the California Constitution as updated by the California voters on November 2, 2010.

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Comparing Cities

On June 24, 2018, the SF Chronicle published San Francisco-based journalist Steven Hill’s thoughtful comparison of certain European cities with San Francisco.

 Transportation: Here’s what Mr. Hill had to say about transportation:

“Public transportation in Berlin: It was such a relief to get away from the crowded Uber congestion of San Francisco streets. Berlin’s public transportation system works so well that I never needed a car. A transit stop is a short walk away, and I could get most places within 30 minutes (often far less). A $70 monthly pass (less than SF’s Clipper card) gave me unlimited use of a combination of underground subways, above ground trains, buses and trams. Decent taxi service and car-sharing services like Car2Go are available for those rare times when you need a car. Consequently, congestion and gridlock are far less of a problem.”

Cities.png“Unfortunately San Francisco’s public transportation is underfunded, inefficient and unpopular, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By letting Uber ridesharing flood the streets instead of investing heavily in public transportation, San Francisco is failing environmentally and reducing overall living standards.”

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The Future of Passenger Rail in the Bay Area

Background: By the late 1960’s the Bay Area’s interurban passenger rail systems were mostly gone. Since then travelers, encouraged by the State of California’s long standing practice of widening and expanding its freeways to temporarily ward off gridlock, have turned increasingly to their private automobiles to get around in the Bay Area: to the point where things are now out of hand. California’s myopic confidence that it could build its way out of traffic congestion failed.

It didn’t take long for urbanites to recognize the damage being done to the Bay Area by an ever growing highway system. In the early 1960’s San Franciscans mounted a mighty campaign that successfully prevented their city from being chopped up by freeways. By the early 1970’s people in the Bay Area were talking about how to bring the Region back into transportation balance. Unfortunately there was no local or regional governmental follow-up. The freeways continued to dominate and, except for BART (more about BART below), the non-automotive alternatives remained in a state of stagnation. Continue reading

Bay Area Traffic Gridlock is Third Worst in the Nation

Bay Area traffic gridlock is the third worst in the Nation, topped only by Los Angeles and Honolulu. Was this dismal situation inevitable?

No….it resulted from decades of bad local and regional transportation decisions. Can things improve? We think so, but it will take time and a whole new way of addressing regional transportation problems.  Read BATWG’s 10 important steps that should be taken to clean up the mess.

Bay Area Express Lanes – a Step Backward

We are told that Express Lanes will let us neatly bypass congestion.  It you think that sounds too good to be true, you’d be right. HOT lanes (now euphemistically called “Express Lanes”) sound good.  But here’s the rest of the story:  The Interstate Highway System was launched by President Eisenhower in 1956.  For a while the emphasis on auto travel worked, but it wasn’t long before the freeway backups and the urban traffic impacts began to cause problems. By the early 1960’s some city dwellers, San Franciscans for instance, were strongly resisting attempts to jam brutal elevated freeways through their sensitive urban districts. By the early 1970’s it was widely recognized that expanded freeways always brought more traffic that eventually caused harried freeway users to end up with the same freeway backup misery as before and the  traffic congestion in the cities at the ends of the freeways to be even worse than before. Continue reading