RTP Submission by TAM
TRANSDEF’s Comments to the
Transportation Authority of Marin”s
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
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.
By framing the discussion in the complex and
confusing manner as she did, your executive director
has managed to overwhelm you. I think it is policy
maker abuse. She presented your future options as
being entirely constrained by entrenched rules, based
on the assumption that the status quo is eternal.
Let’s lead the shift!
This is surprising to me, as I personally met with
her and discussed exactly how an alternative policy
direction might be presented. The fact that you are
not seeing a discussion of alternatives speaks
The buried policy question before you is whether, in
this age of climate change, you feel that TAM’s
long-standing focus on highway building is still
appropriate. This RTP provides an opportunity to
change direction. While MTC appears to still be stuck
in the past as to the overall direction of the RTP,
Marin could use its RTP submission to place a much
greater focus on transit. This is the option that was
While clearly going against the state’s flow, which
is all about building highways, I believe there are
feasible ways to convert highway funding into the
holy grail: transit operations funding. What’s needed
is the political will to direct staff to attempt to
swap funds for sales tax funds from other counties.
My purpose in bringing this to your attention is to
assure you that you are not prisoners of the
decisions of the past. You can change direction if
you believe there is a need.
My organization believes that sustainability in an
era of peak oil means that we need a much more
transit-oriented future. To accomplish that, it will
be necessary to provide much more transit service in
order to make it reasonably convenient. If there were
15 minute service on highway 101 and between Fairfax
and San Rafael, we believe transit could be a
feasible alternative to the personal car.
If TAM wants to reduce GHGs, the last thing you
should be doing is building more highway lanes. And
yet, that is just what the RTP submission does. If
you want a different result, you need to change where
you put your money. If you are interested, I would be
happy to help staff plan that transition.