Scenic beyond description, economically vibrant, environmentally gifted, ethnically rich - these words capture the still-incomparable San Francisco Bay Area in the waning years of the 20th Century. Whether they will continue to apply in the 21st century depends on a complex mix of forces, some of a national or even global scale, other regional in scope. It is the regional forces - travel, growth and development patterns, in particular - that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is attempting to address through the 20-year Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) for the Bay Area.
The primary goal of the Bay Area Transportation Choices Forum is to engage the broader public on the issues of transportation and land use, with an initial focus on the 1998 update of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). If there is a single document that will shape the future of the Bay Area, it is the RTP. The RTP is the "blueprint" that helps define how $89 billion in transportation fundingwill be spent over the next 20 years.
Despite the RTPs importance, public input has been minimal in the past. The sheer complexity of the RTP has been enough to keep away most members of the general public. Yet greater involvement is badly needed, for the "snapshot" of the Bay Area in 20 years presented by the RTP is one which many current residents may not find appealing.
The major challenges now facing the Bay Area - environmental quality, economic development and social equity - are closely linked to transportation and land use decisions. A regional vision with clearly articulated goals and objectives is more important than ever if we hope to effectively confront these challenges.
This report describes what our region may be like if we continue business as usual, then explores some of the myths and misunderstandings that may keep us from rising to the challenges. The report also makes several recommendations for changing our transportation priorities and development patterns. Only with greater public debate and understandingwill we able to take the bold steps needed to address our biggest challenges, and ensure the highest possible quality of life in the Bay Area.