The future of transportation in the Bay Area is up for grabs

An article by Erin Baldassari, “Bridge toll hike is ‘first step’ in solving Bay Area’s traffic woes, experts say” points out just how expensive proposed future transportation fixes will be. However, a strikingly insightful column by Daniel Borenstein, Toll hike vote indicates Bay Area struggles ahead, suggests that the Bay Area’s policy leaders will not be able to enact these programs because voters will not fund them. This is an acknowledgement of the public’s lack of confidence in MTC, an agency that has intentionally remained unknown by the larger public.

That begs the question of whether we will all drown in traffic, due to the lack of an effective governmental response to the crisis. Borenstein suggests that significant financial participation by the business sector is the key to our future. While we certainly agree that the businesses that benefit from the influx of large numbers of new employees should mitigate their impacts on traffic and housing, we think there’s more to the story: a plan for where the money goes. Borenstein pointed out:

The lack of a cohesive transportation plan was the complaint of key opponents to the toll hike like David Schonbrunn, president of TRANSDEF, a nonprofit transit group, and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

What Borenstein describes as the “incremental, stop-gap measures of their own, like the toll-hike measure” aren’t going to do the job. Until a public consensus develops that is willing to support significant investment in transportation infrastructure, the region will remain at a political impasse, coming closer and closer to gridlock.

In the interest of building that consensus, TRANSDEF has certainly been forthcoming with suggestions of what the region needs. We firmly believe that the low-hanging fruit, which is relatively inexpensive, need to be implemented first, to demonstrate that well-functioning government can produce solutions. Having enough resources available to accomplish that means stopping the huge waste of resources that is RM3. With our allies, we are seeking to mount a constitutional challenge to the passage of RM3.

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