Our analysis of proposed reauthorization of Alameda County Measure B

 Brandon Matthews

Alameda County faces a big decision in November. Transportation officials plan to ask voters to double the existing transportation sales tax (often known as “Measure B”), extend it in perpetuity, and approve a $7.8 billion plan for the next 30 years of spending. This would be the largest transportation funding measure ever in northern California.

TransForm has completed a 16-page analysis of the measure (PDF). For the one-page Executive Summary, see the first page of the analysis or read the remainder of this blog post. 

TransForm was intimately engaged in efforts to shape the spending plan, working with a diverse coalition since 2010. The final plan, passed in January, included some changes we and others recommended. We recognize that it is extremely unlikely that the plan will change before it is placed on the ballot by the County Board of Supervisors. Now is the time to decide whether or not to support the final plan.

If the plan passes, it would fund numerous important improvements: restore cut bus service, start a new youth bus pass, repair potholes, and make unprecedented investments for pedestrian and bicycle safety and infrastructure as well as for transit-oriented development. At the same time, the plan has some components that raise concern: most significantly, a proposed BART to Livermore project could divert other needed funds from fixing BART and place even more burdens on an already-stressed system.

TransForm is now considering our position on the measure. In doing so, two key considerations are:

  • What happens if the new Measure B plan passes?
  • If the new Measure B does not pass, what would happen? Are there other potential fund sources to address the same needs? When would a revised plan come back to voters? Would that revised plan be better or worse than the plan now in front of us?

TransForm staff and Board of Directors are using this analysis as we consider our position. We are releasing this analysis before finalizing our position to provide information to others who are following the process and to solicit feedback that may inform our own position.

In the meantime, TransForm will also work in other venues to protect the BART system and to secure funding and protections that were not included in the final sales tax plan. We will:

  • Advocate for the BART Board to take additional steps to prioritize the system’s State of Good Repair and to ensure that BART’s alternatives analysis for the proposed Livermore project includes a full range of alternatives; and
  • Advocate at MTC that the construction phase of the Livermore project is not included in Plan Bay Area, the upcoming update of the Regional Transportation Plan. BART intends to begin an alternatives analysis and environmental review to identify the preferred project for the I-580 corridor and Livermore residents, and that will identify the preferred project for the corridor and the level of funding needed.
  • Advocate at MTC that BART improvements should focus on BART Metro (the most cost-effective project in the region) to improve BART’s core capacity, as well as urgently needed funding for the maintenance shortfalls of BART and other transit agencies.

How these issues are resolved will contribute to TransForm’s final position on Measure B.

What You Can Do:

  • Share this analysis with others considering the merits of the proposed new Measure B.
  • To share your comments, suggestions, and corrections about all the facts and opinions presented in this paper: contact Manolo González-Estay.
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About This Blog

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.