What is the Bay Area’s Plan for 21st Century Transportation?

As part of our series, Boomtown, we’re answering questions from KQED listeners and readers. Our first one comes from Chris Tann, who lives in south San Jose and gets stuck in congestion when he commutes alone to his job in Cupertino on Highway 85.

“When will the city and county planners actually think more than a few years ahead, and put in place the necessary changes to bring Bay Area transportation, both roads and public transit, into the 21st century?”

Bay Area transportation planners are actually looking many decades into the future, but the changes, as an Orinda city official once put it, will be “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.”

Moving more people around the Bay Area will require us to make better use of our current infrastructure, expand public transit, build dense housing around transit corridors and make the streets safer for people to bike and walk, according to three experts who study Bay Area transportation…

“We don’t want to build our way out of this crisis,” says Randy Rentschler, the MTC’s legislative and public affairs director. “We need some strategic investment, we do. We need to fix some highways, we do. We need to widen some, fix some interchanges, we do. But we don’t want it to be what we are only doing here in the Bay Area.”… 

Plan Bay Area, which provides a long-range transportation and housing vision to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourages new housing along transit corridors so people have the option of taking a bus or train, instead of driving….  (more)

Free Muni Approved For Seniors, People With Disabilities

By Jerold Chinn : sfist – excerpt

In a unanimous vote yesterday, the SFMTA approved a proposal to offer free Muni rides to seniors and people with disabilities. $4 million will be spent to fund the program for one year. ABC 7 has it that Muni estimates upwards of 24,000 San Franciscans will benefit.

Ed Lee, who had called for the widely-expected service, issued the following statement: “I thank the Board of Directors for answering this call today. Also today, I call upon the private sector to partner with us, once again, and help fund this vital service that supports our city’s most vulnerable.”

He might be thinking of last year’s move by, Google to pick up the tab on Muni for low-income youth for two years.

Right now monthly adult fare on Muni is $68. Low and moderate-income seniors and riders with disabilities currently pay $23 per month.

According to the SFMTA site, seniors must be low to moderate income for eligibility. Here’s their chart for that:  All coverage of Muni on SFist:
… (more)

Community Midnight Express offers late-night rides from SF

by Ellie Van Houtte : losaltosonline – excerpt

It’s no understatement to claim that Cory Althoff’s new late-night transportation service – Midnight Express – happened overnight.

Just before Christmas, Althoff, a Los Altos resident, was joking with his buddies about the lack of affordable transportation options for returning home to the South Bay from a night on the town in San Francisco. Their banter resulted in the new transportation service.

Althoff and co-founder Michael Horton of Santa Clara were miffed by the expense of private taxis and other car-sharing services that required them to hand over at least $100 to get home. Like many other young professionals in the area, the duo wanted to enjoy the San Francisco nightlife without the nightmare of parking and late-night commutes after public trains stop running for the evening… (more)

Now is the perfect time to re-introduce the jitney. Just call it the sharing shuttle and no one will object. No need to get a chauffeur’s license. Just put up a web site with an app.

SFMTA approves Muni service increase

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Seniors and disabled Muni riders weren’t the only ones benefiting from a better financial picture for San Francisco’s transportation agency over the next two fiscal years.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors are moving ahead with a seven percent Muni service increase, additional funding for cleaning Muni vehicles and eliminating telephone and online transaction fees charged for making a citation payment to the SFMTA.

The board last April included all of these programs in its two-year budget last year, which included free Muni for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, but was contingent on how the transit agency’s financial health looked like this month.

In a report, the transit agency said it would be able to financially support the increase in Muni service and the additional funding to hire more staff to clean Muni vehicles of graffiti and tagging.

The transit agency projects higher revenues in transit fares, parking fees and fines and also more funds from The City because of current state of the economy in San Francisco.

The seven percent Muni approved Tuesday follows a three percent increase in Muni service approved last April by the board for a total of a 10 percent service increase…

Muni riders will be able to start seeing some of the service increases starting Jan. 31, which includes the launch of Muni’s new 55-16th Street route and the increased frequency of the 44-O’Shaughnessy. A soft launch of the new route is set for Jan. 26, according to SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin… (more)

Mayor Lee gets on board with proposal for 2nd BART tube

Liza Veale : kalw – excerpt

“Mayor Ed Lee has thrown his support behind building a second transbay BART tube, an expensive proposal that analysts say is critical to meeting the Bay Area’s transit demand and providing round-the-clock service.

“The second BART tube would run from Mission Bay to the East Bay. That proposed alignment would bring East Bay commuters directly to the heart of San Francisco’s growing biotech hub, where major housing, retail, office and other developments are planned or under construction, including the Golden State Warriors’ proposal to build an arena.”… (more)

Projects in Solano, Bay Area, aim to alleviate highway congestion

By Melissa Murphy : thereporter – excerpt

A congestion report recently released by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) picked out the roadways in the Bay Area that see the most backed up traffic.

While Solano County didn’t make the list of the top 50 congested locations, local transit officials are still working hard to alleviate the congestion that is here — most notably on Interstate 80.

The MTC’s report is the first comprehensive report on Bay Area freeway congestion since 2009.

“Congested delay,” which MTC defines as time spent in traffic moving at speeds of 35 miles per hour or less, rose 18 percent in 2013 to an average of 2.6 minutes per commuter each weekday in 2013 from 2.2 minutes in 2012. This marks the Bay Area’s highest level of congested delay on a per-commuter basis in at least 15 years and a 37 percent increase over the average 1.9-minutes-per-commuter-per-day figure registered in 2010 at the lowest level of the region’s recession-fueled traffic break. “Total delay,” which MTC defines as all time spent in traffic moving below the posted speed limit, averaged about 7 minutes per commuter in 2013.

Additional information including the top 50 list is available online at http://www.mtc.ca.gov/news/congestion… (more)

There is a petition to expand the lanes on Highway 37, linking Solano, Marin and Napa Counties to 101.

Recap on 2014 California Laws

alerts.motorists – excerpt

NMA E-Newsletter #314: 2014 Third and Fourth Quarter Legislative Update
The NMA continues to advocate for motorists’ rights at the national, state and local level. Legislatures across the country took up a broad range of motorists’ issues in the second half of 2014. Here’s a brief summary of the driving-related issues we addressed…


Opposed Assembly Bill 1646 which would add a violation point for texting or using a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Assembly Bill 2393 which would increase vehicle registration fees to fund the implementation of an automated fingerprint identification system. The bill was passed and signed into law by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Assembly Bill 2398 which would establish penalties for a driver convicted of causing bodily injury or great bodily injury to a “vulnerable road user,” defined as a pedestrian, a person on horseback, a person operating a bicycle, in-line skates, roller skates, a scooter, or a skateboard, and a person operating or using a farm tractor. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Brown.

Supported Senate Bill 1079 which would protect against potentially higher fuel costs by exempting suppliers of transportation fuel from having to purchase carbon allowances until 2021. The bill died in committee.

Opposed Senate Bill 1077 which would require various transportation agencies in the state to implement a pilot program designed to “explore various methods for using a mileage-based fee (MBF) to replace the state’s existing fuel excise tax.” The bill was passed and signed into law by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Senate Bill 1183 which would allow local jurisdictions to impose a $5 vehicle surcharge to fund the expansion of, and improvements to, bicycle trails and bicycle parking facilities. The bill was passed and signed into law by Gov. Brown.

Opposed Senate Bill 1151 which would enhance penalties for numerous infractions and misdemeanors committed in school zones. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Brown… (more)