Non-profits sue to stop the Valley Link rail project

On Monday, May 23, two non-profit organizations filed an amended taxpayer lawsuit against the Valley Link project, which proposes to build a $3.6 billion dollar rail line connecting the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station and North Lathrop in San Joaquin County. The largest project cost element is the demolition and relocation of the I-580 freeway to make room for the tracks. Over a billion dollars would be wasted tearing up eleven miles of recently built freeway, adding no transportation capacity in itself. David Schonbrunn, President of the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF) stated that “We want to nip this in…

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Challenge to MTC’s funding of parking garage

In 2016, BART was under pressure from local residents to build another parking garage at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. TRANSDEF responded with a 2017 letter, challenging the environmental review.  BART decided in 2017 to not proceed with the project. Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker then cut a deal with the Brown Administration (reportedly in exchange for her vote on the Cap and Trade bill) to give a $20 million grant to the garage project. A grant was then dutifully made by the State Transportation Agency, CalSTA, from its Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, which is funded by the GHG Cap…

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Santa Cruz County produces biased report prior to June ballot measure calling for removing the rail line

A small group of homeowners, bankrolled by a former Apple executive, has qualified their Greenway Initiative for the June ballot in Santa Cruz County. This group, whose motivation appears to be preventing trains from running near their homes, are seeking the public’s support for a measure that would eliminate the County’s policies calling for building a commuter rail system on the Santa Cruz Branch Line. It would instead tear out the tracks to build an extra-wide multi-use pathway they call the Greenway. TRANSDEF is committed to rail as the low-carbon approach to organizing transportation and land use in the era…

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TRANSDEF offers National Transit Database statistics

TRANSDEF is pleased to offer the work of economist Mike Arnold, who has created visualizations of relevant national and regional data. This data is especially important to the transit industry as passengers start returning from a year of avoiding transit in response to the pandemic. We plan to update this information monthly. There are 15 pages of slides and text. Please click the Zoom (+) button at the bottom for an optimal viewing.  

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TRAC files STB response, challenging transfer of freight rights to SMART

In response to the threats to the Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP, which spans over 300 miles from Larkspur Landing in Marin County to Samoa in Humboldt County), the Train Riders Association of California (TRAC) took action today based on its letter to Senator McGuire about his Great Redwood Trail Bill, SB 69.  TRAC filed comments with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the federal regulatory agency that governs railroad legal matters. (The bookmarked comments are a 20 Mb. download.) Today’s action opposes the request of the current freight operator on the NWP, which is named NWPCO, to have the transfer of…

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NCRA’s Lame Response

The North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) finally responded to TRANSDEF’s demand letter, but its response was lame. Descending into belittlement and disparagement, NCRA’s lawyer huffed and puffed, to dance around the fact that he was unable to offer a valid citation to legal authority for NCRA’s Board action to railbank the line north of Willits. TRANSDEF sent a further demand, after receiving this letter.

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Stopping NCRA from tearing up its RR tracks

A Bay Area environmental group is seeking to save the rail tracks in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties from being torn out. The Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, TRANSDEF, sent a letter to the North Coast Railroad Authority demanding that the NCRA Board rescind the action it took last month. TRANSDEF asserted that the Board had no legal authority to direct its staff to begin the process of abandoning the railroad and turning it into a trail, in a process called railbanking. Railbanking means tearing out the tracks while claiming that the railroad can be restored in the future. North…

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