MTC Caught Red-Handed in Regional Measure 3 Campaign Violations

TRANSDEF today filed a Complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) alleging that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and BATA, its alter ego, illegally expended public resources to promote passage of Regional Measure 3 (RM3). In addition, the Complaint alleges that MTC/BATA illegally coordinated with the Yes on RM3 campaign, engaged in impermissible express advocacy, and then failed to report these efforts as campaign expenditures. Exactly one year ago today, voters gave a 55% approval to RM3, a bridge toll increase expected to raise $4.5 billion. While the first of three increases has already gone into effect, the funds…

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New articles on Seattle

Politico has published a great account Has Seattle Found the Solution to Driving Alone to Work? Seattle voters made the decision to put their money into transit, on a big scale. It has paid off handsomely. Bay Area voters were cajoled instead to throw more money at highways. That will not turn out well. Streetsblog digs into solutions to the housing crisis with Seattle and Minneapolis: A Tale of Two Upzones.  As these articles make clear, Northern California is not a center for innovation in the fields of transportation and housing.

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Amazing changes in San Diego

San Diego used to be the most reactionary of the State’s large transportation agencies. No longer! It’s amazing what losing a few environmental lawsuits can do. Now, the San Diego Association of Governments, SANDAG, is leading the State in responding to the climate change crisis. SANDAG’s new Executive Director, Hasan Ikhrata, made headlines when he announced that San Diego Can’t Hit State Climate Goals Without Major Transportation Changes. While TRANSDEF has been saying that for decades, it’s different when it comes from an agency head. State reports indicate that greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles are increasing, despite efforts to reduce them. This…

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High-Speed Rail releases Project Update

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) just released its 2019 Project Update Report. This $20 billion plan would provide HSR service between Bakersfield and Merced. That’s $15 billion more than the $5 billion that have already been spent. These numbers goes so far beyond the world of ordinary transportation projects as to verge on self-parody or an extremely elaborate hoax. TRANSDEF does not consider the Project Update Report to be a credible transportation plan. No rail professional in Europe or Asia would ever present a proposal so over the top. Here are TRANSDEF’s observations after a quick read of the…

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The personal dimension of climate change activism

Over the years, I’ve often compared the emotional difficulties of being a climate activist with the challenges faced by hospice workers: we are surrounded by death. Huge numbers of species are dying in the present, and far more will go extinct as temperatures continue to rise. It’s truly crazy-making to advocate for a strong governmental response to the seemingly obvious threat of climate change, yet receive only blank stares from the elected and appointed officials who have the authority to initiate action. It seems that most people just can’t imagine a world different from their current pleasant existence. Unfortunately for…

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I just went carless

By Steve Heimoff When I told my old friend, David Schonbrunn, I was going carless, he asked if I would tell my story for TRANSDEF. So here it is. I’m 72 years old. I came of age during an era when having a car was practically a matter of patriotism. Of course you need a car! This is America! Every American has to have a car. How else can you get around? My father bought a new car every three years. As soon as I was able to afford one, I bought a car. too. Not having a car was—well,…

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Here’s why MTC is a policy failure

By a convenient coincidence, The Chronicle published a chart entitled The Bay Area’s 11 biggest transportation projects that provides graphic proof of policy failure. A quick look at the list of projects is enough to show the absence of a coordinated strategy. What stands out instead is the prominence of extremely expensive yet low-public-benefit projects that are being pushed by powerful economic and political interests: Central Subway BART extension to San Jose Caltrain electrification An even bigger push from the Bay Area Council and others is promoting a project many times more expensive than anything that has ever been attempted…

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New data: MTC still a policy failure

A updating of data of the chart on our Bay Area Basics page shows that MTC is continuing to fail at fostering any kind of change in Bay Area travel habits. As a result, the total amount of driving, VMT, has more than doubled since 1980. That’s why the roads keep feeling more crowded. They are! Note in particular the flat VMT per capita trace, indicating no change in the propensity to drive. This is the direct result of MTC’s failure to supply alternatives to driving. Despite spending many billions of dollars on BART extensions, total transit ridership actually dropped…

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We Don’t Need More Infrastructure — We Need Congestion Pricing

Streetsblog covered the release of an important study by Brookings titled Local Transportation Policy and Economic Opportunity, which is far more exciting than its title would suggest. The study provided the basis for Streetsblog’s provocative title, We Don’t Need More Infrastructure — We Need Congestion Pricing: The U.S. does not need to build more highways — it needs to spend more on aging urban rail systems and use congestion pricing to ease gridlock in urban areas, a new report shows.   … “Claims about the dilapidation of U.S. transportation infrastructure should be regarded with a critical eye,” says Turner.  

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San Diego Can’t Hit State Climate Goals Without Major Transportation Changes

The Voice of San Diego reported on a refreshing statement of the obvious as to the level of changes needed in the county’s transportation planning to meet State climate goals: The region simply can’t meet state requirements for thwarting climate change the way things are and the way they’re headed, Hasan Ikrhata, director of the San Diego Association of Governments, said at a Friday board meeting. Even if the region built the trolley lines and bus services leaders have been discussing, it would not change enough. Either state law would have to change, or regional leaders need to reimagine plans…

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