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 result, TAM pays no attention to operational issues of the highway. Because Caltrans can’t be bothered with such matters, that leaves a management void where no one is minding the store. Conditions continue to deteriorate, but nothing is done about it. It’s like the classic restaurant joke, where the waiter says, “It’s not my table. ”
Another part of the problem is TAM’s abject cowardice when it comes to confronting MTC and Caltrans, the 800 pound gorillas of the transportation world. When TRANSDEF presented an interim plan to immediately open the third lane on the a Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, TAM acted as the mouthpiece of the two giants. Rather than sticking up for the residents of Marin, who were suffering high levels of afternoon congestion, TAM was content to toe the party line: “We’ll have it all done in a couple of years.” That was that–the bureaucracies would grind along at their chosen pace, and the public is told to tough it out. The utter lack of care by these agencies for their ultimate employers is shocking.
Lastly, TAM, like other agencies, is still stuck in the mindset of the 1980’s, even though the world of 2018 presents entirely new challenges, requiring new ways of thinking. See the large collection of posts on Transportation Planning for further details.