TRANSDEF Proposes New Approach at TAM

TRANSDEF appeared at the Transportation Authority of Marin to propose a strategic approach to operating the agency. In particular, the time has come to recognize that the era of the single-occupant vehicle is over. There isn’t enough roadway capacity to accommodate all those solo drivers, and there isn’t enough money or right-of-way to feasibly do that. Rather than having a congestion problem, Marin has an expectation problem, in which people expect to be able to drive alone.

If the smartphone apps for ridematching became popular, significant numbers of people would be able to locate someone in real time that is going where they are going. A modest increase in carpooling could end roadway congestion, at least on those road segments without local bottlenecks. This
memo contained some of the operational ideas.

MTC Wants to Bury Dumbarton Rail

Update to this story: On April 23, TRANSDEF filed comments [this file without exhibits] with MTC, asserting legal arguments for why the proposed elimination of Regional Measure 2 funding for the Dumbarton Rail Project would be both illegal and unwise. [Comment file with the full set of exhibits.]

Page 16 of the staff report for MTC’s February Planning and Allocations meeting lays out MTC's plans to bury the Dumbarton Rail project. Transit advocates have often noted that this project is the only possible way to avoid the cost of a new multibillion Transbay tunnel to deal with the lack of capacity in BART's Transbay tube.

After refusing to put $300 million into Dumbarton Rail, while putting far more than that into new HOT lanes, MTC now has the gall to say that the project must be cancelled for lack of funding. This is reminiscent of Congress reducing food stamps so that it can increase subsidies for agribusiness. It also sounds like the classic plea to the judge by the man that had killed his parents: "Your honor, please have mercy on me for I am an orphan.”

This move is especially grievous because a draft EIR/EIS has been prepared, but is now sitting on the shelf because FTA won't sign off on the EIS until the project is fully funded. Sufficient mitigations were built into the plan to make it acceptable to the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge. Faux concern about impacts on the Refuge had been the heavily promoted environmental rationale for the CHSRA’s selection of the Pacheco pass over the Altamont pass for the HSR connection to the Bay Area. Release of the EIR would totally debunk that alleged problem.

Cap and Trade for HSR: A Joke!

TRANSDEF released its analysis today of the CHSRA’s Contribution of the High-Speed Rail Program to Reducing California's Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels (June 2013). In short, the construction of HSR would generate more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than it would reduce, for at least 2 decades. Because of this, it would be illegal to use cap and trade funds, which are intended to reduce GHGs, to build HSR. Read More...

Court of Appeals to CHSRA: No Way

The Court of Appeal summarily dismissed the CHSRA’s second Petition for Extraordinary Writ of Mandate, saying in effect that there were no legal grounds upon which to grant relief. It is expected that the desperate CHSRA will attempt to get relief from the California Supreme Court, where success is exceedingly unlikely. See all the legal papers.

ARB's Scoping Plan Update

The CA Air Resources Board (ARB) is updating the 2008 Scoping Plan, which laid out the State’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) which cause global climate change. TRANSDEF filed its comments, which stress the need for clarity as to the contribution of the economic recession and higher gasoline prices to the state’s reduced GHG emissions in the past 6 years. The comments call for ARB to remove HSR as a GHG emissions reduction measure, given that it is projected to increase GHGs for decades.

Authority Appeals Yet Another Decision

In a fascinating demonstration of desperation, the Attorney General filed a second Petition for Extraordinary Writ on behalf of the CHSRA, challenging the March 4, 2014 ruling in Tos that denied its request to end the Tos proceedings. CHSRA had requested a judgment on the pleadings already filed in the case. The Court ruled that a trial be held to determine whether the Authority’s HSR project complies with Proposition 1A.

The Court of Appeal will decide in the near future whether to call for further briefing or dismiss the petition.

The same Court of Appeal has ordered oral argument in the
Atherton II appeal for May 20, 2014. It is possible the oral argument for the two Extraordinary Writ Petitions will be held then as well, as the cases are related.