Holy Grail found in Minneapolis & Seattle

Streetsblog has produced another policy great: the article “Minneapolis and Seattle Have Achieved the Holy Grail for Sustainable Transportation” describes two cities that are reducing their Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT). The following chart by Yonah Freemark illustrates how Seattle is increasing bus ridership while most cities are seeing losses in ridership. The Bay Area’s bus ridership is stagnant, reflecting the sector’s lack of prioritization by MTC. Perhaps most striking is that these two cities have enacted strategically-based investments in their transit network, leading to their effectiveness. MTC, on the other hand, is uninterested in regional strategy. Instead, it confines itself…

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Strong Towns offers important insights on congestion

The Strong Towns website has posted a series of important articles on congestion. Taken together, they frame how public agencies in California and the U.S. have been doggedly heading in the wrong direction in transportation and land use planning. Here’s a sampling: The Causes of Traffic and Congestion, addresses the question of whether new development causes more traffic. Here is its excellent summary: Development can add traffic. However, development that brings amenities and people closer together and reduces the need to travel so far can actually reduce traffic. With a mixture of uses, you can achieve a high population density…

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Editorial totally nails the housing crisis

In an editorial that TRANSDEF believes to be the best policy work of a generation, Bay Area News Group Editorial Page Editor Dan Borenstein takes on the housing crisis. “Stop deepening Bay Area transportation, housing crisis” takes on the stale thinking that has powered Bay Area decision making for decades: It’s time to stop digging this housing deficit hole deeper. We need more housing. But we need it in the right places.   Bay Area cities with housing shortfalls – San Francisco, Cupertino, Menlo Park and Palo Alto, for example – should stop adding more buildings for jobs unless they…

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San Mateo Measure W going down to the wire

See updates, below. San Mateo County’s additional transportation sales tax, Measure W, failed to get a 2/3 majority vote on election night. As the mail-in ballots are slowly tallied, the percentage is creeping slowly towards 66.67%. As of November 25, the count was at 66.55% yes, with approximately 13,000 ballots left to count. TRANSDEF has taken an Oppose position, and has been helping its allies in San Mateo County. Excellent coverage in the local press: Daily Post Measure W Editorial Daily Journal Article As of Tuesday, November 27, the margin had shifted significantly to 66.87% Yes votes. Concerns have been…

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Kids’ safety held hostage in Measure AA money grab

In a great post today, CO$T’s Mimi Willard shows just how far TAM is willing to go to to scare voters into passing Measure AA. TRANSDEF has seen similar hostage-taking in other measures. It is a frequent tactic of agencies seeking more funding. Often, the claim is that underprivileged people would be hurt if the measure doesn’t pass. The implicit threat is that “If you don’t care enough about these people to protect them, we won’t protect them either.” Of course, what does that say about the priorities of the decision makers? It says, “We’re going to do just what…

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Peter Calthorpe hits one out of the park

With his characteristic brilliance, architect/planner Peter Calthorpe has cut through the morass of opinion and self-promotion on autonomous vehicles. His Chronicle interview brings clarity to an issue swirling in hype. The headline says it all: “Driverless cars won’t help traffic congestion, he says.” The article goes on to lay out how suburban car culture could be changed in San Mateo County by changing how transportation and land use are planned. Very much worth reading… For those eager to dive deeper, see this 2017 article Autonomous Vehicles: Hype and Potential.

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TAM is a mediocre agency

When it comes to making the lives of Marinites better by improving their transportation, the Transportation Authority of Marin, TAM, has consistently been missing in action. Traffic has gotten worse over the decades, but you’d never know that from TAM’s self-congratulory communications. Listening to TAM’s Board of Commissioners meeting, one would never know how miserable traffic is. Part of the problem is TAM’s very narrow view of its mission. It sees itself as responsible only for for funding and delivering transportation projects. The agency is completely disconnected from any sense of responsibility for the experience of highway users. As a…

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Measure AA: TAM could care less about climate change

Climate change is sending increasingly strong messages–through catastrophic floods, droughts, and wildfires–that human societies must shift their priorities if they are to survive beyond the next few generations. Unfortunately, transportation professionals–including the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM)–still haven’t accepted the responsibility of reducing the impact of transportation on climate change. Climate change is caused primarily by the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. Motor vehicles are the biggest source of GHGs in California, in the Bay Area, and in Marin. Because driving keeps increasing, GHG emissions keep increasing, even while the State is working hard to…

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TAM can’t be trusted with a 30-year sales tax

Today’s Marin IJ carried TRANSDEF’s Marin Voice, entitled “TAM can’t be trusted with a 30-year sales tax.” Although the IJ endorsed the measure, it gave opponents the much-sought-after Sunday placement. The piece is a hard-hitting takedown of a status quo agency that is uninterested in its impacts on climate. As environmentalists, we find that stance completely unacceptable. See associated post.

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The official start of the age of carpooling

Today’s Chronicle carried a story on how Google’s Waze is rolling out carpooling on a national scale. TRANSDEF has been writing about the significance of ridematching apps for years, before Waze got interested in this market. The announcement today marks what we believe will become known as the official start of the age of carpooling. What makes the announcement so unusual is its express interest in both the public and private benefits of the venture: “We want to reduce traffic and take cars off the road,” said Josh Fried, Waze’s head of carpool.   Waze has another goal, too: prepare…

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