Measure BB, already hard at work in Alameda County, sets a precedent for 2016

Joël Ramos Headshot

 Noah BergerSince the historic Measure BB passed in November, we’ve heard questions from lots of people who live, walk, bike, and ride transit in the Bay Area:

“When do the free transit passes for youth start?”
“When can the city start filling in potholes?”
“What’s next with that whole BART to Livermore thing?”

These are great questions!  Here are a few answers, and more on what’s to come with Measure BB.

Transit passes for youth almost ready to pass the test

Our good friends at the Alameda County Transportation Commission have begun pulling together folks from the county’s school districts, AC Transit, Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), and advocates who helped push for the program. Together, we’re hard at work crafting a program to get the passes out as soon as possible to those who need them most. The full roll-out of the passes will probably happen next year, with the hopeful target date being fall, when school starts again.

Street improvement funding coming to cities as early as April

Measure BB won billions of dollars to improve road and street conditions for everyone who uses them. Now, cities are figuring out which projects should be given priority and will be “shovel ready” as soon as revenues start coming in (as early as April 2015). If you have a project that you feel is urgent, we urge you to call your City’s Public Works department or your City Council member and urge them to get your project on the list!

Finding better alternatives than BART to connect Livermore

A controversial part of Measure BB was its inclusion of $400 million for studying and funding a “BART to Livermore” extension. We (and other groups) were assured that the Tri-Valley would only support Measure BB if it included money that could be allocated towards connecting Livermore to BART.

But the reality with the expensive BART to Livermore project is that a majority of Livermore residents don’t support funding it. In fact, Measure BB failed miserably in Livermore. 

BART is currently working on an environmental impact report (EIR) for the project, studying different options for connecting the West Dublin Station to Livermore. Various “alternatives” will be studied, including the most expensive of all - extending “classic BART” technology.

Yet BART is nearly $5 billion dollars in the red on maintaining its core system. For the more than 400,000 riders that use BART daily, this means not enough BART cars, huge system delays, and unclean conditions. Those riders deserve safe and comfortable trains that are on-time, clean stations (with clean restrooms!), and working escalators.

Funding an extension of BART’s core system to Livermore would mean less funding available for the improvements that BART desperately need to keep its service safe, frequent, reliable, and affordable. We need new BART cars. The BART cars need to run on new rails, with new infrastructure, and with new train control systems. These improvements are not cheap, but they are essential to keeping the system running smoothly.

BART should prioritize spending its resources on getting the current system back up to speed, not expensive extensions to places that don’t support having it there.

Measure BB set a precedent for 2016

Having seen what is possible with the success of Measure BB in Alameda County, seven of the other nine Bay Area counties are already starting to work on a 2016 Ballot measure. San Francisco will likely pursue a Vehicle License Fee, and AC Transit will certainly be putting a parcel tax on the ballot when we vote for our next President.  Even BART is pondering whether or not they will go for a 2016 ballot measure to fill the $4.8 billion hole in their system upkeep.

If you are interested in learning more about Measure BB expenditures, or in helping us to make sure BART does the right thing in connecting Livermore, please contact me or sign up to receive updates on our Save BART! campaign.

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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.