Measure B would double VTA’s sales tax. This is intolerable, when the Measure fails in three distinct policy areas:
- BART to San Jose and Santa Clara is a horribly wasteful and ineffective response to the commuting challenges of Santa Clara County residents.
- The continued funding of highways is ultimately futile, as congestion will merely continue to get worse. See this study to learn how highway widening increases greenhouse gases over the long run.
- While Silicon Valley desperately needs great transit, VTA continues to operate a hopelessly ineffective transit system. Its plans allocate little of the Measure A proceeds to an Santa Clara County transit network.
Testimony to ARB on Regional GHG Emissions Reduction Targets: “These targets will result in increased emissions in this sector, due to population growth. This is going in the wrong direction, and would send the wrong signal to the rest of the world about ARB's view of the need for urgent reductions in GHG emissions.”
ARB’s 2013 Scoping Plan Update: “Staff recognizes the need for "Fundamental transformation of transportation system needed to meet goals" but seems to have little grasp of the institutional barriers to that transformation.” Read More...
I'd like to offer you a mental frame for the traffic issue, one you've probably never heard:
We're at the point where the roadway system in developed areas has reached a state of maturation. The fiscal and environmental costs of expanding capacity are so high that it is mostly out of reach. Yet vehicle trips keep increasing. This results in ever-increasing congestion all over the Bay Area, which is significantly worse here.
Mill Valley is something like a pressure cooker, because of its isolation from the rest of the county. Because of that, Mill Valley is at the bleeding edge of this change. Read More...
TRANSDEF wrote a series of letters praising the Plan and suggesting improvements. They include overview comments, detailed comments, and their attachments. Streetsblog wrote an excellent article covering the Plan. Read More...
For thirty years, Caltrain has wanted to electrify, but never had the money. TRANSDEF believes that this longstanding desire blinded it to the agency’s best interests. We see this as tragically similar to the Biblical tale of Esau selling his birthright to his brother Jacob because he was hungry one night.
TRANSDEF filed extensive comments on the DEIR and the FEIR. See the Caltrain Electrification page for he background. Read More...
Our comments addressed the ongoing problem with large transportation projects: they promise too much and deliver too little, at a vastly higher price than initially promised. We wrote up a case study of MTC which we called Politics Trumps Outcomes that identifies the politicization of project selection as the root reason why the Bay Area has lower transit ridership now than it did thirty years ago.
TRANSDEF’s President was the only member of the public to speak on the item. His suggestion that the District show leadership on climate change by encouraging its passengers to arrive at the Ferry Terminal by ways other than solo driving was ignored by the Committee. The text of his comments follows. Read More...
The Sierra Club/Communities for a Better Environment suit seeks a reduction in greenhouse gases and air pollution that affects communities of color in West Oakland. The “Bay Area Citizens” suit is a right-wing challenge to what it views as an assault on Americans’ God-given right to live in suburbs. The Building Industry Association suit makes interesting claims that have never been litigated: that the regional plan violates SB 375 by not providing for feasible levels of housing for the entire population of the Bay Area, including in-commuters from the Central Valley.
For the associated documents, see the bottom of this page.
In its August 26 meeting, the Committee approved a consensus plan including the following elements that had been proposed by TRANSDEF: a North-South bikeway on the railroad trestle, if feasible; improved merging of E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd. with I-580; and an added eastbound lane on E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Marin County has become known lately for very vocal opposition to the Bay Area’s regional plan. TRANSDEF published an opinion piece on recent overreactions to regional planning. In an effort to foster an informed dialogue over housing issues, the Marin County League of Women Voters has published Dispelling the Myths Surrounding Affordable Housing.
Roy agreed to put himself forward, along with fellow former BART Director Sherman Lewis, as a named plaintiff in a suit brought by TRANSDEF to stop MTC from moving funds from the proposed Dumbarton Rail Project to the BART Warm Springs project. TRANSDEF vehemently opposed this billion dollar wasteful project. In agreeing to do so, Roy truly walked his talk.
TRANSDEF is very grateful for Roy’s assistance over the years and offers its condolences to his large family. We will miss him.
Mr. Nakadegawa served on the AC Transit Board for 20 years, from 1972 to 1992. He then served on the BART Board for 12 years from 1992 to 2004. After he left the BART Board, he joined the Board of TRANSDEF (Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund), a non-profit environmental organization created by transit activists to advocate for better solutions to transportation, land use and air quality problems in the San Francisco Bay Area. In all those positions he argued for cost-effective, mobility improving transit.
Mr. Nakadegawa was an active attendee and participant in TRB (Transportation Research Board) meetings and was well known and respected around the world for his depth of knowledge about transit and its relation to land use. He was written up in the local press for the frugality of his travel arrangements. When Mr. Nakadegawa served as an AC Transit directors, its members got an annuity when they left the Board. For many years, Mr. Nakadegawa generously donated his annuity payments to buy prizes for AC Transit's local bus rodeo winners. Read More...
Independently of anything the regional agencies do, the nine-county Bay Area is growing in population and getting wealthier, so, inevitably, it is changing. That means that the region is in transition. The aspect that concerns us is a needed transition from the present land use/mobility system to a new one.
The old, existing system is based on the single-family house, the personal automobile and the freeway. It handles growth mainly through outward spatial diffusion, or sprawl. It has grown up over decades, and has become our thoroughly familiar environment. We have all deeply adapted to it. It is individualistic, and not egalitarian. Growing up in times of economic success and prosperity, it offers what people believe is freedom. Therefore, on the basis of inertia alone, the traditional layout has support from the very large share of the population (and public and private administrative structures) that are comfortable in it and who want to preserve what is known and good. Read More...
TRANSDEF’s Comments to the
Transportation Authority of Marin
Regional Transportation Plan Discussion, 10-27-11
You have the authority to set a
very new direction for transportation in this county.
But you would never know it by reading the staff
report. Judging by the report, this agenda item
appears to be just another routine item.
The whole point of this agenda item last month had been to ask you what weight to give to each of the RTP candidate priority criteria. But that focus has been buried. It isn't at all clear what you are expected to do with this item. If you had been properly briefed by staff, you would recognize this item as the ultimate transportation policy setting discussion.
In my view, this is yet another in a long history of presentations shaped to maintain the status quo. TAM's predecessor agency had an ugly practice of keeping decision makers in the dark, so as to have staff positions rubber-stamped.
Testimony Before the S. F. Supes
10/27/11 Hearing on Civil Grand Jury Report on Central Subway
We are transit advocates, working primarily at the regional and statewide level. We have opposed the Central Subway for years, because instead of being a well- designed cost-effective transportation project, it is primarily a political payoff.
The Grand Jury deserves the thanks of all San Franciscans for their willingness to dive into an incredibly dense thicket of details and their courage to call a spade a spade. Their report is a proud addition to the long tradition of speaking truth to power.
The fundamental project design problems raised in the report are so serious that they necessitate a response from the Board on recommendations 16 - 20, even though you weren't specifically asked to. If the Board ignores these recommendations, it will send a strong message of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”
As Mr. Reskin, the MTA head said, the questions about this project were asked and answered. However, the answers were so steeped in politics as to be worthless. The Grand Jury is telling your Board that the Emperor has no clothes. Future generations will remember you as the Board members that ignored their message and put Muni into an extended fiscal crisis.
“coordinate the development and drafting of major planning documents prepared by ABAG, MTC, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, including reviewing and commenting on major interim work products and the final draft comments prior to action by ABAG, MTC, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.”
In its last three meetings, the JPC has walked away from the responsibility to coordinate the development of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), with its associated Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), and has decided to focus instead on regional resilience and economic development. While these two subject areas certainly need the attention of the JPC, it appears that this new focus is the result of MTC not wanting the JPC involved in the RTP. Whereas the JPC was created to foster interagency cooperation, this recent move seems to be a classic turf fight--a curious one in which no one is willing to talk about it.
Given this silence and denial, TRANSDEF’s President David Schonbrunn stepped in and spoke about MTC’s decision on committed projects (See Massive Counter-Attack, next blog entry), calling upon the JPC to assert the interests of the region, which were abandoned by MTC, which would rather play politics with transportation dollars. He was gaveled down at precisely 3 minutes by JPC Chair Tom Bates, cutting off the last paragraph of his prepared remarks. See Read More for the complete comments. Read More...
The problem with this is that local solutions do not work when aggregated together at the regional scale. Local transportation plans assume that their residents will travel largely by automobile. However, when these residents leave their respective counties, it has not been possible to furnish adequate regional infrastructure. The extremely high cost of widening existing highways, along with the lack of physical space to do so without even more expensive condemnation of existing residences and businesses, has resulted in massive congestion throughout the region. Read More...
Upon noticing that the Clean Air Plan would result in excessive particulate matter in the air, TRANSDEF’s President David Schonbrunn spoke to the Board of Directors and suggested that a mitigation be adopted to reduce the source of growing particulate pollution: motor vehicles. Read More...
Large numbers of presumably unemployed carpenters showed up to flex their political muscles, with a banner eerily calling out CIA. Only this time, CIA meant Carpenters in Action. They were calling for jobs, and clearly weren’t much concerned that the project was enormously bloated in cost, and already eliminated any benefits for the impoverished community it was to pass through. The carpenters seemed unaware that most of the jobs resulting from the project would be elsewhere, where the people mover system will be built. The use of precast concrete is going to reduce the construction jobs dramatically.
After many impassioned speeches calling for MTC to preserve the Bay Area’s underfunded transit system and not waste money on the OAC, the committee voted to approve the funding. While there was a significant group of Commissioners who saw the problems with approving the money, they were in the minority.
MTC, through this and many previous votes, demonstrated more clearly than ever before that the agency truly does not give a crap about outcomes. The fact that the OAC would waste a half-billion dollars was not a consideration. MTC has always been about cutting political deals. The OAC represented someone’s deal, and MTC’s unspoken rules prohibit going back on a deal, no matter how loathsome a project has become.
Here are a series of articles instigated by the great work of Save Muni.com. They are campaigning to inform the public about the folly of Muni’s Central Subway. Amazingly, this $1.5 billion boondoggle will lead to reduced bus service and even longer travel times. Check out these articles:
David argued that the subway is so deep that the time it will take to access it will eliminate the travel time savings over the current bus. Also, the route is so badly designed that a transfer to BART and Muni lines will require over a 1000 ft. walk. Residents of Bayview/Hunters Point, who now have a convenient transfer to all the Market Street trains, will lose that connection when the Third Street Line goes direct to Chinatown.