Analysis of Modelling
The TRANSDEF Smart Growth Alternative tests a comprehensive policy of Smart Growth, pricing reform and cost-effective transit. These three policies work together synergistically, improving the Region's mobility at a surprisingly low cost.
The Alternative responds to congestion by reducing drive-alone demand, rather than expanding roadway capacity. Instead of the conventional response--widening highways-the Alternative introduces a series of innovative pricing reforms that discourage driving by raising its cost. The downside is minimal: an 18 second increase in the average travel time per trip. In other words, there is no significant difference in the time it takes to get from here to there.
So much money is saved that it becomes possible to fund most of the region's future needs using existing resources. The unspent $7 billion in Committed and Track 1 funds could cover the great majority of the transit capital shortfall and the streets and roads maintenance shortfall.
By clustering future development in already-urbanized areas, the Smart Growth Alternative dramatically increases the number of jobs accessible by transit and significantly increases jobs accessible by auto. The strong focus on Smart Growth allows this excellent performance to be delivered at an infrastructure cost much lower than other alternatives.
With gasoline prices rising sharply and a widespread recognition that global supplies of oil will soon be outstripped by demand, the Smart Growth Alternative begins the hard work of creating a viable alternative to the automobile. As longer drive-alone commutes become unaffordable, the Alternative leaves the region prepared, with transit in place. A strict requirement of cost-effectiveness results in the provision of enough service to make transit a convenient choice.
The Smart Growth Alternative responds to the region's biggest planning problem: how to provide affordable housing near jobs. Two-thirds of the new dwelling units built in the next quarter century under this Alternative are projected to be multi-family. Not only would this new housing possibly cost less, it is also far more sustainable than conventional single-family housing. Good public transit and walkable neighborhoods enable families to own fewer or no automobiles, making these units even more affordable. The increase in transit service in urbanized areas needed to implement Smart Growth provides significant benefits to low-income communities, thereby improving the equity of the distribution of RTP funds.
Smart Growth land use allows urban residents to take many more of their trips by walking, bicycling or using transit. By reducing the growth in the amount of driving, the Smart Growth Alternative reduces environmental impacts such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. Nearly 58,600 acres (92 sq. miles) that are converted to urban uses in the other alternatives remains as open space, habitat and agricultural lands in the Smart Growth Alternative.
As can be seen in this Spreadsheet Analysis of the TRANSDEF Smart Growth Alternative's performance, the plan performed quite well in a number of parameters, while costing a great deal less than the RTP adopted by MTC.
TRANSDEF looks forward to a thorough public discussion of what was learned from the Smart Growth Alternative and what can be done to improve the quality of life for Bay Area residents. We thank MTC staff for their cooperation in the modelling of the Smart Growth Alternative.
The TRANSDEF Smart Growth Alternative implements the Network of Neighborhoods vision developed by the Regional Agencies and the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities over a two year period, based on three carefully researched planning documents and many public workshops. The Alternative shifts funds from highways and overly expensive BART extensions to Rapid Bus and DMU rail service.
The Alternative saves the greenbelt and protects existing neighborhoods. It develops Smart Growth land use in downtowns, commercial strips, and around rail transit. TRANSDEF proposes pricing reforms such as parking cash-out and the eco-pass to finance transit service, to encourage carpooling, and to provide incentives to reduce dependency on automobiles. The package, taken as a whole, is an exciting and mutually reinforcing plan for moving toward regional sustainability. It is legal, fundable, and performs better than the MTC Preferred Alternative.
The TRANSDEF Team
John Holtzclaw, Sierra Club National Transportation Committee Chair
Sherman Lewis, Professor Emeritus, CSU Hayward
and Former BART Director
Richard Mlynarik, RAFT
David Schonbrunn, TRANSDEF President