Today’s Headlines

  • BART Seeks Funds for New Railcars (SFGate, CBSLocal)
  • Rerouting  for Twin Peaks Tunnel Reconstruction (SFExaminer)
  • Power Outage Closed Church Muni Station (Hoodline)
  • AC Transit Fuel Cell Buses (EastBayTimes)
  • Reasons to Love San Francisco (Curbed)
  • Divisadero Art Walk (Hoodline)
  • Amtrak Train Runs Over Person in Pittsburg (EastBayTimes)
  • More on Development Regs Aimed to Boost Biking (ConstructionDive)
  • SMART Train Will Move Forward with Larkspur Construction (MarinIJ)
  • Commentary: California’s Housing Hypocrisy (SFChron)
  • Commentary: Don’t Jam Up Caltrain Electrification (SFChron)

Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA, national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • MikeS

    Wait, BART wants even more money from us?

    Didn’t we just vote to give them $350 billion?

  • JustJake

    It was $3.5 billion, and it was just the prologue for what they want. Wage and pension costs guarantee BART will never come close to making economic sense. The voters appear to be able to be mislead, over & over. More money won’t fix BART.

  • xplosneer

    Fuel cell buses. Still dependent on fossil fuels, just not at the tailpipe.

    Electrolysis is really inefficient.

  • John French

    Bring back the gyrobus!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyrobus

  • p_chazz

    BART should fire its custodians who make a quarter million a year hiding in closets and contract that out. Any service that does directly contribute to BART trains should be contracted out. There should be no BART gardeners; heck, they could lay off the station agents and contract that out, too.

  • Drew Levitt

    It’s possible that wage and pension costs may prevent BART from ever turning a profit, but that doesn’t mean the system doesn’t make economic sense. Plenty of systems and services require ongoing public funding support (like police and fire protection), and we deem them worthy of that ongoing support in recognition of the social or economic value they provide.

    To determine whether BART “makes economic sense,” I would ask whether the amount of economic activity that BART enables exceeds BART’s social cost. How much economic activity is that? Time for a back of the envelope calculation.

    in 2014, 22.3% of SF’s workforce lived in Alameda or Contra Costa Counties.[1] During the morning peak hour, the BART Transbay Tube carries twice as many passengers as the Bay Bridge.[2] So let’s estimate that about 14 percent of the SF workforce takes BART. (This is only transbay workers, not BART riders from San Mateo County or intra-city riders. The real percentage is likely much higher.)

    The five-county Bay Area’s GDP was $758.5 billion in 2015.[3] Let’s assume that 1/5 of that comes from San Francisco County, so SF’s economy generates about $150 billion annually. Make the simplifying assumption that each job in SF contributes equally to GDP, and we can estimate that BART enables the creation of at least $21 billion of economic activity annually.

    BART is asking for a lot of money, it’s true. And they have spent a lot of money unwisely in the past, it’s also true. (Let’s continue to demand better decisions in future.) But in recognition of its enormous economic benefits (to say nothing of social or environmental value), money spent on BART is still a sensible investment.

    [1] https://onthemap.ces.census.gov/
    [2] http://www.bayareaeconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/BACEI_TransbayCrossing_Feb2016b.pdf page 4
    [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Bay_Area

  • JustJake

    BART is not a sensible investment. We are stuck with a legacy rail width that was a huge mistake, and with legacy wage and pension structure that insures we will always pay far more than we should, for what services are rendered.

  • Drew Levitt

    Totally agree with you that the nonstandard rail gauge was an awful decision, and that wages and pensions are both poorly designed. That doesn’t mean that we’re not better off with the system than without.

    Of course I’d love to start all over again and build a smarter regional rail transit network. And I’m willing to work with you to raise the hundreds of billions of dollars (or more) it would cost to build such a system. But in the meantime, I still think we’re better off making targeted investments in the system we have so that (1) it doesn’t completely fail (state of good repair, addressed by Measure RR) and (2) it works as well as it can, in terms of frequency (# of train cars) and reliability (automated train control).

    We can still be salty about BART, though.

  • JustJake
  • Drew Levitt

    Yeah, that move is total BS and I will be calling my BART Director about it. Thanks for sharing that article.