We Can’t Transform Our Transportation without New Funds
The Bay Area has one of the most extensive transit systems in the country. But we have a long way to go for the Bay Area to become a place where everyone can get where they need to go, with or without a car.
Right now, the Bay Area doesn’t even have enough money to maintain our current transportation system. Big funding shortfalls are expected in coming years simply to keep existing transit up and running, plus repair local streets and roads.
This doesn’t include the billions more needed for completing a regional bicycle network; building more affordable homes near transit; and filling gaps in transit service for low-income families.
We Can Build on Past Success to Win Billions Once Again
Between 2000 and 2004, Bay Area voters proved that we will vote “yes” to on sales tax measures to improve our transportation. Voters passed nine measures, most by over two-thirds, to raise $17 billion in new transportation dollars. Over 75% of this funding went to public transportation. Bicycle and pedestrian safety projects received as much funding as highways – an unprecedented shift. TransForm organized local coalitions to shape and win many of these measures.
We need this to happen again. Beyond the ballot measures listed above, several other Bay Area counties- including Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and San Francisco- are considering going to the ballot again in 2016 with some sort of sales tax measure. BART, Caltrain, and AC Transit are also gearing up for ballot measures that would raise funds specifically for these agencies, too.
Contra Costa County
In Contra Costa County, efforts are being explored to augment the previous "Measure J". The Contra Costa County Transportation Authority recently did some polling, and shared their results, which showed six key priority areas, including: Improving and extending BART, encouraging alternative modes of transportation (like biking, walking and ferry service), repairing roads, relieving and smoothing traffic on freeways, protecting the environment via sustainable transportation choices and impact mitigation, and improved bus service and technologies. TransForm has been recommended to sit on a committee that will help create a successful plan on how to spend any money that the County receives from voters. We will keep you posted as this work happens, especially around opportunities for input!
Santa Clara County
In Santa Clara County, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is engaging multiple stakeholders and the community to guide the development of a potential funding measure in 2016, which could generate billions of dollars in the next generation of transportation investments for Silicon Valley. This process, called Envision Silicon Valley, has major ramifications for our future and we have very important decisions to make as a community.
San Francisco County
In San Francisco County (which won a $500M General Obligation Bond in 2014, and a commitment for more funding to to go towards transportation from the City's General Fund), efforts will likely continue to ask voters to close the $10B / 30 year shortfall via additional investment.
In November 2015, San Francisco voters will have the opportunity to approve Props A & K. Prop A will provide new housing for low and middle-income families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, as well as enable repairs to existing public housing. Prop K will prioritize affordable home construction on surplus public lands, helping to ease the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco. You can read more about these measures on our blog.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
BART is also still waiting for polling results to help them decide how to close their own $5B infrastructure / State of Good Repair funding needs. Again, this will not happen all at once, but steps need to be taken soon to keep transit riders safe and traveling in a timely, reliable and affordable manner. Please check back on this page for updates as they develop.
Finally AC Transit graciously deferred from going to the ballot in 2014 to allow a re-do for Alameda County measure BB, which won in 2014 after a heartbreaking loss in 2012. Again, stay tuned to learn more about how they will likely go back to the ballot to win things like...."free" service during peak hours, "free" transit passes for seniors, expanded service and operating hours, more Rapid and BRT routes, etc. There is SO much more that could be done with AC Transit and we will be doing everything we can to support them, so please stay tuned!
- The 2014 Election: A clean sweep for transportation choices
- TransForm's Impact
- TransForm's 2014-2019 Strategic Plan
For more information, contact Joel Ramos.