Two Small but Highly Productive Agencies

When a large public agency is confronted with a new problem or added responsibility the tendency is to hire new people to handle the new work. There are several problems with this approach. First it is often difficult for a public agency to identify prospective employees with the needed experience and qualifications. Delays in deploying competent people in a timely manner often lead to very bad outcomes. It should also be noted that whenever someone is hired by a large agency the tendency is for that individual to remain on the payroll long after the need for his or her services has passed. It is partly because of this reaction to new problems and responsibilities that large agencies tend to continue to grow in size.

Bureaucracy vs Efficiency

But there is another model of how things can work that seldom gets the attention it deserves. Below are two examples of Bay Area agencies that have achieved astonishingly high levels of achievement with very small staffs.

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Union City Mayor Still Wants her Highway

Along Route of Proposed Highway
Along route of proposed highway

Excerpts from BATWG’s 12/8/2019 letter to Mayor Dutra-Vernaci and the Union City Council:

BATWG is a 501c3 California non-profit corporation. We are all volunteers, dedicated to restoring a more balanced transportation system to the Bay Area. Collectively we have a vast amount of experience in transportation, housing and land use development.

From a review of your Plan 2040 it appears that the East West Connector [now euphemistically called the “Quarry Lakes Parkway”] is still in Union City’s program. We urge you to rethink this.

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Nine new highway boondoggles slated to cost $25 billion

Highway expansion projects too often come with big price tags and paltry benefits. Yet at least nine new such expansions are planned across the country, including one in California.

On June 18, 2019, CALPIRG released its fifth “Highway Boondoggles” report, which profiles these projects. Making the list is California’s proposed High Desert Freeway, which is expected to cost $8 billion and, in stark contrast to California’s global warming goals, will inevitably lead to more driving, more pollution and more sprawling desert development.

“To improve California’s transportation system and hit our climate and clean air goals, we must reduce our reliance on cars and highways,” said Emily Rusch, CALPIRG Education Fund executive director. “This project does the opposite, doubling down on a car-centric system that will encourage more people to hit the road…”

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Nudging Union City into the 21st Century

Route of the Union City Mayor’s New Highway

Here are two recent BATWG letters, each emphasizing the superiority of a new Dumbarton Rail service between the Union City BART  station and Caltrain’s Redwood City Station over U.C. Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci’s  “anachronistic short highway to nowhere”.

 Bay Area Transportation Working Group  

                                                              July 9, 2019

Dear Mayor Dutra-Vernacic (Mayor of Union City): 

We remember you as are a strong supporter of the plan to create a passenger rail service via a rebuilt Dumbarton Rail Bridge between the Redwood City Caltrain Station and the Union City BART Station.  We agree.    Continue reading

The Truth about HOT Lanes

HotLanesHigh Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are for buses and carpools. When operated  effectively and with proper enforcement, they work well.   HOT lanes are something else again. HOT lanes allow freeway users of means to pay substantial fees to speed past the rest of us inching along in the adjacent “mixed flow” lanes. While some might regard this as acceptable, here’s the problem.  MTC’s billion dollar ongoing HOT lane program is doing far more than just converting HOV lanes to HOT  lanes.  It is also closing the gaps between HOV sections by adding 300 lane miles of new asphalt so as to create a continuous system of HOT lanes throughout the nine MTC Bay Area Counties.  Continue reading