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:

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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

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