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  • Chris Lepe

5 Reasons Why We're Wild About San Mateo County's Measure W


San Mateo County’s economy has been thriving in recent years. But while the Peninsula has added jobs, we have not made the needed investments in transportation infrastructure to keep up. Traffic is a nightmare and our transportation systems are aging, stressed, and facing serious capacity challenges.


We haven’t made enough investments in housing, either, which leads to displacement, longer commutes, and more transportation problems. Over the last five years, San Mateo County has produced one housing unit for every 19 jobs it has created, leading to rising rents, displacement of low to moderate income households, longer commutes, and massive traffic congestion locally and regionally.


Unanimously approved by the SamTrans Board of Directors and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in July, Measure W will raise $80 million per year over thirty years to address pressing transportation challenges across San Mateo County — challenges that will only get worse if the measure doesn’t pass this November.


Here are 5 reasons why we’re wild about W:


Robust funding for local transit

An impressive fifty percent of the revenues in Measure W are aimed at maintaining and improving SamTrans, Caltrain, and paratransit services. This level of investment in local transit is critical to avoid imminent cuts to these services while also making improvements to the network to expand ridership and reduce congestion. Eligible projects and programs include:

  • expanding hours of service,

  • providing more affordable fares to youth, seniors, or low income riders,

  • fully electrifying the SamTrans bus fleet, and

  • incorporating Wi-Fi and other amenities on board transit vehicles

Measure W also allocates 10% for regional transit connections, such as improvements along the Dumbarton corridor and express buses on Highway 101 to better connect San Mateo County to the rest of the region. This will help commuters get to and from work more quickly and safely, with viable alternatives to driving.


Together these investments in public transit represent 60% of the measure’s funding — that’s more than San Mateo County’s 2004 Measure A (30%), Santa Clara County’s 2016 Measure B (42%) and Alameda County’s 2014 Measure BB (48%)!


Strong emphasis on moving more people with fewer cars

In addition to the 60% allocated to public transit solutions, 5% of the measure is earmarked for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements and programs — funding initiatives like the popular countywide Safe Routes to Schools Program. What’s more, all roadway spending in Measure W will be subject to a Complete Streets policy to encourage safe accommodation of all people using the roads, resulting in even more funding for improving connections for people that walk and bike. And that’s not all.


Measure W permits roadway project funding to be spent on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, Transportation Demand Management (TDM), and commute alternative programs in order to incentivize transit, biking and walking, carpooling, and other shared-ride options. We expect these types of projects and programs to be highly competitive for Measure W funding, thanks to the forward-thinking guiding principles in the measure that include facilitating the “reduction of vehicle miles travelled, travel times and greenhouse gas emissions” and incentivizing “transit, bicycle, pedestrian, carpooling and other shared-ride options over solo driving.”


Support for more walkable communities near transit

Measure W provides more frequent and convenient public transportation options to support more compact, walkable development, as well as a guiding principle that TransForm and our allies made the case for: “maximize the traffic reduction potential associated with the creation of new housing opportunities in high-quality transit corridors”. This principle acknowledges the importance of Transit-Oriented Development as a traffic reduction strategy and opens the door for targeted investments that support the creation of more homes near transit.


Community input and accountability

Measure W was crafted during 10 months of extensive, county-wide public outreach that included over 17,000 people who participated in a survey and “budget challenge,” 5,000 individuals that participated in telephone or regional town halls, and 100 presentations to city councils and business, advocacy, and community groups. TransForm and our diverse partners in the Transportation Equity Allied Movement Coalition (TEAMC) were deeply engaged in this public process, helping to make Measure W a win-win for local communities, commerce, commuters, and our climate.


Measure W includes strict fiscal accountability, including independent citizens’ oversight, annual public audits, and a detailed expenditure plan to ensure that every penny is spent as promised. Two important accountability measures will ensure the spirit of the measure is effectively implemented after November: A provision requiring the Transportation Authority, which will be responsible for administering many of the investments in the measure, to develop a Strategic Plan that will be informed by community input; and Diverse community representation on the independent oversight committee, including from youth, seniors, people with disabilities, business, labor, and the environmental community.


Broad support from civic leaders and environmental, equity, economic development, and community groups. As mentioned above, both the SamTrans Board and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors unanimously support Measure W, which is an indication of the Measure’s broad political and geographic support. Furthermore, a growing and wide range of nonprofit, community, and business groups enthusiastically support Measure W.

Transportation, housing, and land use organizations: TransForm, Housing Leadership Council, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Urban Habitat, Friends of Caltrain, Parents for Safe Routes

Environmental organizations: Greenbelt Alliance, Menlo Spark, Citizens Environmental Council of Burlingame, Save the Bay, Peninsula Interfaith Climate Action (PICA), UUFRC-Social Justice Committee, Silicon Valley Climate Action Alliance

Labor and economic development associations: SAMCEDA, San Mateo County Central Labor Council, Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce

Organizations serving youth, seniors, and people with disabilities: Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), Youth United for Community Action (YUCA), GatePath

If you’re a San Mateo County voter, please vote YES on Measure W this November!