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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We don’t have much time left to fix transportation

Environmentalist Ed Mainland of Novato, CA speaks out: Controversy has swirled around Marin’s Measure AA. Many proponents of Measure AA seem oblivious to TAM’s dismal track record and substantive arguments pro and con around TAM’s funding plan. Proponents point to the plan’s funding of transit, EVs, and Safe Routes to Schools. Others call the plan conventional, status quo, wedded to car culture, and lacking in real understanding of what is at stake. Several things Marinites may wish to keep in mind: 1. A local climate activist recently compared TAM’s plan to Los Angeles’ plan and found TAM’s, by comparison, to…

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Travel expectations different in Europe

After attending Innotrans, the international rail exposition in Berlin, I’ve been visiting with a colleague in a smaller German city. The plethora of transit choices is amazing. There is an extensive subway system. The tram network runs in the subway, using the stations there and then exiting to run on surface streets, often in medians reserved for transit. The even more extensive bus system has signal preemption, giving buses priority at difficult intersections. Germany is famous in transit circles for its S-bahns. Over a hundred years ago, it was recognized that trains needed to be separated from street traffic. Far-sighted…

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SF Transit Riders Union tells SFMTA “Do your job!”

In a superb opinion piece, Rachel Hyden, Executive Director of the SF Transit Riders, documents the political cowardice of San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency in implementing the City’s longstanding Transit First policy. She forcefully argues that Transit First is critical to making the City more livable, by speeding up transit and making it an attractive mode of travel for large numbers of residents. Transit professionals and transit advocates know what’s needed to improve transit. What’s missing is the political will to make policy decisions on behalf of the greater good, when objections are raised by those that insist on driving.…

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