When I read about last week’s derailment of the WMTA train in Washington D.C., I got nervous. The cause of the derailment (which left thousands of commuters stranded and delayed while the Orange and Silver lines were shut down for several days) was the deterioration of decades-old railroad ties that were supposed to hold the rails together.
Scarily, this problem hits close to home: many of BART’s railroad ties and rails are old too, adding to the problems of an aging BART system that we have all been groaning about for years now. If a broken escalator or train delay doesn’t remind you of that, the deafening noise of even the smoothest ride under the Bay through the transbay tube will.
But take heart, devoted transit lovers! There is a better BART in sight. BART will be asking voters to approve a ballot measure in November to pay for critical repairs and improvements like a new train control system, new rails, and cleaner stations. The measure would raise $3.5 billion to get BART back on track with safe, reliable, comfortable, and frequent service. Needless to say, many of us are feeling that November can’t come soon enough!
TransForm heartily supports the 2016 BART funding measure, and we urge you to vote yes in November.
From top to bottom, this measure is a sound investment for our region. BART has been meticulously assessing their repair needs, and plans to use this funding to tackle their top priorities, including:
- Fixing old tracks like this one, including 90 miles of original rails (45 years old!)
- Renewing power infrastructure, including original power systems and backup power supplies
- Repairing tunnels and stations that have been damaged by flooding
- Replacing the outdated train control system, which is alone responsible for 20% of delays
- Expanding safe access to stations, such as expanded bicycle facilities and access for seniors and people with disabilities
You can read the full investment plan for the measure here. When combined with other efforts to purchase new rail cars, this measure hits most of the wish list that TransForm has been advocating for in our Save BART campaign. We truly believe this is a critical opportunity to make sure BART is in great shape and can continue to meet the needs of its 400,000+ daily riders.
One thing you won’t find in this measure: expansion projects. For years, we’ve been raising concerns about BART’s tendency to overlook basic maintenance of the core system, and instead build costly expansions that serve a limited number of people. The current BART Board and leadership are taking a new tack, and this measure is evidence of their commitment to responsible management of the Bay Area’s commuter rail system.
As a daily BART rider, I can’t stress enough how much these improvements are needed to keep BART riders out of their cars, and to get even more cars off the road. Here at TransForm, we’re always calling for making the best use of what we have, and no system keeps the Bay Area moving quite like BART does, especially as our region continues to grow. But in order to keep BART great, this system needs some love!
We need your support to win a Better BART in November.
Two-thirds of all voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco counties must support the ballot in order for it to win. So please – whether you are a BART rider, a Bay Area resident who cares about having a safe commute on public transportation and less cars commuting over the Bay Bridge, or an environmentalist who cares about cleaner air and less pollution: VOTE YES in November!
Our thanks goes out to the hundreds of people reading this who signed our earlier petition and helped demonstrate the support for the BART Bond to the BART Board of Directors. Together, we won their support. Now let’s deliver on our end and get this BART Bond passed. Indeed, we truly cannot afford to lose!
This post is part of our 2016 Election Guide.