Skip to content

Recent Comments

  1.  

    RichLL

    We can play “my cite is better than your cite” all day long. But you are listing everything that you think is wrong with BART and nothing that is good about it. So in the end we learn more about your personal biases about BART than we do about BART itself.

    As I said at the outset:

    “It fascinates me that so-called transit activists hate on BART so much, and especially given that it is the most efficient and well-used local system of transportation in the Bay Area, apart from the freeway system which was far more expensive.”

    And, as Murph points out, BART is also the most financially self-sustaining of all the local transit systems.

  2.  

    RichLL

    The main difference on pricing is that rent control depresses the provision and availability for rent of existing units. Prop 13 does not.

    The main difference on mobility is that Prop 13 doesn’t encourage a change of use but rent control does. As an example, I have owned 15 rental units in SF. All originally had long-term tenants in them. Now only one does. That’s a net loss of 14 rental homes.

    Whereas with Prop 13, if I ever leave the home that I own, then I am not creating demand for another home. Either way I occupy just one homes.

    Prop 13 not only lowers the cost of housing but lowers rents and encourages the build of new homes, on which a full-value tax will apply.

    I see no downside of Prop 13, which presumably is why it was passed by a massive majority of the voters

  3.  

    RichLL

    First you argue that we should not expand BART because (you claim) the extensions will require a 40% tax subsidy.

    Then when I point how that, by that reasoning, we should invest in BART over, say, CalTrain or Muni because those have a worse ROI, you change tack and claim instead that investing in CalTrain and Muni is just “better” without explaining why.

    You must be defining ROI in a very different way than most people use it. BART has the best ROI of any local transit system based on your own numbers.

  4.  

    Alicia

    You don’t need public standards of behavior to decline. All you need are thousands of dirty shoes a day to destroy carpet.

  5.  

    murphstahoe

    “But again, if the need for operating subsidies was a valid argument
    against expanding transit then we’d never expand transit anywhere unless
    it were 100% self-funding operationally.”

    Completely incorrect. Taxes pay for all sorts of things that are for the public good. Good governance means we use those taxes to build things that have a positive return. Some things are worth subsidizing at very high levels. Some things are white elephants not worth subsidizing at all. It’s all about return on investment of that subsidy.

    That’s why one might say “Yes, we should electrify Caltrain, but not build an Oakland Airport Connector” or “Dumbarton Rail should be built instead of an extension of BART to Berryessa”.

    It seems like the majority of the money is going into projects with low ROI these days while some very useful projects get the shaft.

  6.  

    Celia Truitt

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!tl735x

    two days ago grey McLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !tl735x:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsCartGetPay$98Hour…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!tl735x….,..

  7.  

    Celia Truitt

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!tl735x

    two days ago grey McLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !tl735x:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsCartGetPay$98Hour…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!tl735x….,.

  8.  

    Celia Truitt

    “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet $98/hr”…..!tl735x

    two days ago grey McLaren. P1 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k Dollars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over hourly. 87 Dollars…Learn. More right Here !tl735x:➽:➽:.➽.➽.➽.➽ http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsCartGetPay$98Hour…. .★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★::::::!tl735x….,

  9.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    I’m aware that BART has been burning piles of money on station modernization and no, that does not give me confidence. The new escalator at 19th St was out of commission for a month-long repair less than a year after it was installed.

    Here are some things that would give me confidence:

    0) BART board members who have been elected more than once all resign. These are the people who brought us the failed signal modernization program from the 90s, repeated labor disputes, the oakland airport connector, warm springs, expansion stations in the middles of freeways, an entire extension system in the middle of CA-4, etc. Goodbye, former BART board members!

    1) Whoever has the escalator maintenance contract is fired. BART can even keep paying them out, I don’t care. Get someone new.

    2) BART produces a detailed, public post-mortem report for every escalator or elevator outage that last more than a day. BART produces a quarterly report detailing whether the lessons learned from these post-mortem exercises have been effective in reducing recurrent problems.

    Those are some things that would give me confidence. I guess I’m too used to the private sector, but if one of my contractors had a decades-long history of total incompetence, and came to me asking for a bigger budget, my response would not be affirmative.

  10.  

    david vartanoff

    As to cost, despite the revisionist history on BART”s website the cost I cite was current in press reports of the early 70s. As to picture windows, look here
    http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?139557
    for PATCO cars delivered in 1968, or here
    http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/show?141641
    for CTA’s first air conditioned cars delivered in 1964. The carpeting was a dumb attempt to lure suburbanites frightened by the word subway. As to advertising in stations, wrong again. The first generation train arrival signs had corporate logos on them, and in between train predictions,ran commercial messages for Crocker Bank,Coca-Cola’s Mr Pibb, and others. They did however, decide to leave out overhead handrails–“every rider will have a seat.” Smoking has not been permitted on rapid transit trains on any system in the US that I have ridden since 1955. Nor did any have overhead bins. Automatic Train Control, AND magnetic tickets were in use on PATCO as of early 1969 when I rode the system, and even the Illinois Central Suburban service (now Metra Electric) was using magnetic tickets on its distance fare system in the late 60s. I looked at the site you quote and found more errors so I suggest you do further research. (examplt, the cited vote for the BART system is the figue for SF County only; the combinedvote was 60.1 because the vote in one of the counties was 59.x. These are small errors, but the cumulative effect is lack of reliability.

  11.  

    Dave Moore

    I think that’s a fair point, but while you might say that prop 13 “benefits” people the question here was about its similar impact to pricing and mobility as rent control. I don’t see a strong argument from you that this is not the case. I just see you saying you like the benefit of keeping your property taxes low. The impact you’re talking about is fairly low I believe (keeping units off the market entirely). To my mind the lack of mobility and inventory contributes much more.

  12.  

    RichLL

    I understand that there are extra operating expenses in addition to the capital cost. I question whether you can assume the same 40% subsidy for the extension as for the system as a whole.

    But again, if that were a valid argument against expanding transit then we’d never expand transit anywhere unless it were 100% self-funding. Some local communities are willing to directly subsidize service but usually that is to keep open a service that would otherwise close.

    Jamison gives some numbers elsewhere in the thread about the Warm Springs extension that you might want to read. He seems to know what he’s talking about.

  13.  

    jd_x

    Here’s any idea for what they can do with a very small amount of the funds: Put damn roofs over the escalators and add gates at the top that are closed and locked when the system is closed. I’m utterly blown away that Bart can’t figure this out and why they ever thought exposing escalators to the elements and people defecating and urinating on them was a good idea. Seriously, they spend so much money fixing these escalators from the abuse they take and this is sooooo easily solvable.

  14.  

    Jamison Wieser

    BART’s contribution to Warm Springs was $24 million of the $890 million project, the rest was cobbled together from other funding sources or dedicated funding. $54 million came from the “leftover” from the SFO expansion fund. $890 million in infrastructure for a $24 million contribution is a good deal, especially since it’s also the important link to San Clara County.

    http://www.bart.gov/about/projects/wsx

    It’s typical of a funding problem which good-government, infrastructure, and transit advocates have been trying to call attention to. The entire funding system is rigged towards building out instead of maintaining the existing system.

    Over the last ten year, BART has spent much more on station modernization, including the elevators and escalators, than it did on Warm Springs, but it is very slow going when most the funding opportunities are specifically for expansion.

    The infrastructure bond would provide $400 million towards the station modernization project. It’s a little more than escalator replacement, BART is also building street level canopies to protected the escalators from weather, with gates which can be closed to keep people from using the sunken subway entrances as a toilets.

    If you want to see the escalators repaired, there’s an infrastructure bond going on the ballot which will dedicate funding towards fixing them, with stipulations it can’t be used for expansion.

    Santa Clara County isn’t being included in this because BART has already hammered out an agreement which puts responsibility for the Silicon Valley extension on VTA to manage and maintain. Do these not give you any confidence?

  15.  

    murphstahoe

    David writes
    “3. No further extensions into low density areas.”

    You respond
    “Re #3, BART extensions are capital investments which are typically funded separately from ongoing expenses

    Which is misleading, because it implies that the only thing needed for extensions is to get a sweet sweet capital grant.

    David knows that. The reason David demands #3 is that BART isn’t getting a good ROI on their extensions. Everything is subsidized. That is not inherently bad. The things BART is adding to the subsidy plate are generally bad, in light of their failing operation of the current system.

  16.  

    RichLL

    It was still new at the time.

    My guess is that the designers of the system did not predict that public standards of behavior would decline so much over 50 years that textile finishes in train cars would be soiled by the trains’ passengers.

    So, do you like anything about BART, Mr Murph?

  17.  

    RichLL

    By that argument we’d build no new transit, because it all adds to the subsidies that we have to throw at transit to make it viable.

    Is that your point?

  18.  

    murphstahoe

    Let me make it more simple.

    BART will need more money – in total – in the operations budget after Warm Springs opens, than they did before. The extra mileage will lose money, just like any other part of the system.

  19.  

    RichLL

    Your premise there is that Prop 13 has a “negative impact”. If I disagree with that assumption (and I do) then I will obviously not accept the points you made that are predicated upon that assumption.

    To your last point, I know that new build is exempt from rent control. However, I was talking more about the provision of homes for rent, which are disincentivized by rent control. Owners of such units will choose other uses. Whereas municipalities get full property tax value for new;y built homes, plus a bunch of fees, meaning that Prop 13 encourages newly built homes.

  20.  

    RichLL

    My guess would be that much of the cost of the operations is a fixed cost for centralized services, meaning that the fare recovery rate of 60% is not a constant for all parts of the network, or for extension.

    Put another way, if an extra mile of track is laid with one extra station, you cannot assume that fares to and from that station will cover only 60% of the marginal costs.

    You also need to compute the revenues that are added because people in the affected area will now use BART rather than drive to a further destination.

    Would like to see numbers to confirm the revenue benefits of extensions, however.

  21.  

    murphstahoe

    Re #3, BART extensions are capital investments which are typically funded separately from ongoing expenses

    BART fare recovery for operations is a very impressive 60% or so, but that implies that 40% of the added *operations* cost coming from the extension – forget maintainance – needs to be found somewhere when an extension comes online – presuming the extension hits that 60% level.

    electricity, operators, etc….

  22.  

    SFnative74

    Fewer escalators and more stairs! How much of a money pit are these things?

  23.  

    Dave Moore

    I need to amend the last one. I thought you were referring to the rent rising when the units turn over. You’re talking about new units being created.

    Still, the bulk of new units in SF are exempt from rent control. The only ones that aren’t are ones that are in older buildings but aren’t already rented out. That’s a relatively small number, although you’re correct that the prospect of rent control keeps some of these units from being added to the stock.

  24.  

    murphstahoe

    ooh. Bags of popcorn ready!

  25.  

    murphstahoe

    The BART rolling stock set new standards as well. These were the first rapid transit rail cars to use big picture windows, carpeting in lieu of tile…no station advertising

    Amusing that the carpet has been ripped out to everyone’s happiness and there is plenty of station advertising. New standards indeed.

  26.  

    Dave Moore

    These arguments seem extremely facile. Note: I am a home owner who has personally benefited from Prop 13. I am also a landlord who has had the rent on the one unit I rent out kept artificially low. I think that both Prop 13 and rent control contribute to the lack of available housing in SF and should be phased out, so that the market can operate with less friction. I understand that SF can’t change Prop 13. I just wish we could.

    1) Prop 13 is statewide; rent control only exists in a handful of CA cities. Everyone in the state can benefit from Prop 13, but two identical houses across the street can vary in their eligibility for rent control

    I read this as the negative impact of Prop 13 is much broader and therefore worse than that of rent control.

    2) Many types of housing are exempt from rent control, but Prop 13 benefits all homes.

    Again.

    3) Prop 13 also benefits commercial property owners, but rent control doesn’t benefit commericial tenants.

    Again.

    4) The “cost” of Prop 13, insofar as there is any, is borne by everyone. The cost of rent control is borne by a small minority – those who take risks to provide housing

    Again.

    5) Rent control sours relationships between landlords and tenants. Prop 13 causes no adverse relationships between individuals to the best of my knowledge

    Minor point. It’s certainly not universally true. I have a great relationship with my tenant.

    6) Rent control suppresses the supply and provision of rental housing. Prop 13 is neutral on provision since new homes are taxed at their market value.

    Rent control and Prop 13 are identical in this regard as market rate on the units is reestablished when they turn over.

  27.  

    Mark T.

    I agree with JustJake. It’s gonna hurt to vote NO. I ride BART daily and it certainly is falling apart. But voting yes even though you’re feeling extorted, as MX says, just isn’t going to work for me this time around. I will be bearing the brunt of the consequences as much as, if not more, than most folks due to the length of my daily ride. I’m ready for the sacrifice to send a message.

  28.  

    Mark T.

    As I stated on another blog, I’m voting NO on this bond until BART demonstrates an ability to control the insane labor situation (strikes, pensions, poor service, etc). If this bond fails, it is purely a referendum on BART’s fiscal ineptitude and terrible management, and has nothing to do with the need for infrastructure repairs, which we all agree are desperately needed.

    Someone else said voting no would be cutting off your nose to spite your face. I get that, but I feel like in this instance, it’s the only way to get BART to start paying attention. The public is absolutely fed-up, and pissed off. We’re not giving BART any more money until they get their shit together. No matter what they say it’s for.

  29.  

    neroden

    I’ll tell you what’s really gross about this. This is the section of the Muni system which *least* needs a tunnel.

    The N-Judah — definitely needs a tunnel! Should be tunneled the whole way! The J-Church — would benefit from a tunnel! The K-Ingleside — yeah, that could use a tunnel too! The L-Taraval — a tunnel would sure help!

    The M-Ocean View? It already has exclusive right of way and doesn’t stop for very many intersections. Why are they trying to steal that right-of-way for cars?

  30.  

    RichLL

    A technical error is not a lie but merely a mistake, which we all make. Inferring bad intent is inappropriate.

    But I take solace from the fact that, by implication, the other 99% of my statements have your blessing

  31.  

    RichLL

    Dave, I agree that there are superficial similarities to the casual observer between Prop 13 and rent control. However. I’d offer the following key differences:

    1) Prop 13 is statewide; rent control only exists in a handful of CA cities. Everyone in the state can benefit from Prop 13, but two identical houses across the street can vary in their eligibility for rent control

    2) Many types of housing are exempt from rent control, but Prop 13 benefits all homes.

    3) Prop 13 also benefits commercial property owners, but rent control doesn’t benefit commericial tenants.

    4) The “cost” of Prop 13, insofar as there is any, is borne by everyone. The cost of rent control is borne by a small minority – those who take risks to provide housing

    5) Rent control sours relationships between landlords and tenants. Prop 13 causes no adverse relationships between individuals to the best of my knowledge

    6) Rent control suppresses the supply and provision of rental housing. Prop 13 is neutral on provision since new homes are taxed at their market value.

    Those are the distinctions I came up with in a few minutes – I’m sure there are others.

  32.  

    neroden

    Given that the M train already has its own exclusive right-of-way on 19th Ave., and on West Portal Avenue, there is no conceivable reason whatsoever to build a redundant tunnel — unless the goal is to replace the tracks with more lanes for cars.

    The portion on Randoplh St. and Broad St. doesn’t seem to have much auto traffic so it’s not a problem either.

    A tunnel would be solely for the benefit of motorists.

  33.  

    neroden

    Yes, we had reached a consensus that you were lying, RichLL.

  34.  

    neroden

    This project appears to be 100% for the benefit of motorists.

    It would be different if we weren’t looking at a line which *already has its own right of way on the surface*. But we are in fact looking at a line which already has its own right of way. 100% of the benefits of the tunnel go to motorists.

  35.  

    neroden

    Remember, 19th Avenue is ALREADY wide enough that it ALREADY has a pair of tracks for the railway, separate from the street. If they rip out the railway, they’re not going to make the street narrower… they’re just going to put more car lanes in.

    Putting the railway underground is simply an attempt to get more space for car lanes.

  36.  

    neroden

    The Central Subway is generally considered by public transit advocates to be the biggest waste of money of any public transit project in the US.

    Geary needs its own Muni Metro route. And it needs to be a subway *east of Gough Street* where Geary is narrow.

    But west of Gough Street, there’s plenty of room to put the G-Geary on the surface, because there’s extra lanes there which used to be the exclusive streetcar lanes.

    If you’ve got an exclusive right-of-way for your train on the surface, it is pure money-wasting to put the train undergrounud. Put up some railroad gates where the streets cross the tracks.

  37.  

    Dave Moore

    I’m lost. You’ve stated elsewhere that you’re against rent control for a number of reasons, including its impact on mobility and available inventory. But you’re a “big fan of Prop 13”. How do you square that circle?

  38.  

    neroden

    The M *already has its own right of way*. This proposal is “convert the M train right of way to car traffic, and build a giant tunnel to get the M out of the way”.

    This is idiotic. The M runs fast and efficiently over its exclusive right-of-way, except where cars have been given priority over it for no good reason.

  39.  

    RichLL

    Depends how you read it. I read the article as broadly supporting Brown’s goal of reducing the backlog and obstacles that many municipalities place in the way of building the homes that almost everyone agrees need to be built.

    As for the editorial policy at SF.SB, I’d say it has improved markedly since roger took over.

  40.  

    RichLL

    Re #1, the biggie last time around was the pension benefits. So while I agree with you that future pay raises should absolutely be linked to the RPI, or less, if not frozen, the real goal has to be to get the workers’ pensions and healthcare costs off the agency’s books and 100% onto the employees, as the rest of us have to do.

    Re #3, BART extensions are capital investments which are typically funded separately from ongoing expenses, are often at least partly paid for by the state or the Feds, and will be built to the new standard thereby ensuring that these outrageous maintenance costs will not apply to the new tracks.

    And of course areas served by BART do not stay “low density” for long.

  41.  

    RichLL

    You might want to read this:

    “The envisioned cost of $996 million made BART the first “billion dollar mass transit project . . The actual construction figure ended up being about $1.6 billion, $315 million of which came from the Federal government.”

    “Engineering expertise was brought in from across the country to deal with the many pioneering aspects of the first “from the ground up” rapid transit system to be constructed in America in almost 50 years.”

    “The BART rolling stock set new standards as well. These were the first rapid transit rail cars to use big picture windows, carpeting in lieu of tile, to provide cushioning for sound and sight, no overhead storage bins, no station advertising and no smoking in any of the cars, which reduced ventilation costs by $1000 per car and lowered the car’s profile by 12 inches (ventilation is taken through the window sills). BART was also the first rapid transit system in America to be fitted with a automatic train control, capable of handling 50 trains simultaneously (developed by Westinghouse). BART also pioneered the use of magnetically coded tickets purchased from machines and graduated fares, based on distance traveled (Hammond, 1971).”

    Source:

    http://sonic.net/~mly/www.geolith.com/bart/#origins

  42.  

    mx

    It’s apparently Streetsblog editorial style to “correct” wrong opinions in this way.

  43.  

    RichLL

    mx, if public safety is not the most important public policy imperative, then what is?

  44.  

    RichLL

    I don’t know Murph – can you make a pro-BART statement? It would be good to have a comment from you on the topic.

  45.  

    RichLL

    mx, if public safety is not the most important public safety is not the most important public policy imperative, then what?

  46.  

    Jamison Wieser

    It’s not just the track gauge (trivia: wide gauge is also known as Indian gauge because it’s the national standard for India) BART has many peculiarities that would never allow “generic” rail cars.

    That’s not at all uncommon. Many, if not most, heavy-rail metro rail systems (not using light-rail) use custom made cars or highly modified train. If it isn’t the gauge, it’s the power system, or tunnel size, or the tightest turn radius in the entire system, or platform length, or width, or curvature, or you are Paris and have a unique rubber-tire system, or your computer control system, etc. You get the idea.

    If if BART to shut the system down for a few years to change track gauge, it doesn’t change the fact that BART would require wider, but shorter trains. It’s the slightly wider trains which have let BART carry something about three times its original capacity.

    BART will forever need custom trains, but so with the London Underground and the Paris Metro.

  47.  

    RichardC

    Your headline “Editorial: Brown Proposal Right to Streamline Housing” isn’t actually what the Marin IJ editorial says – it argues that Brown’s proposal goes too far in limiting public input on individual development projects.

  48.  

    mx

    I mean, look, I’ll vote for it because I support transit (that’s actually why I read Streetsblog, as opposed to certain commentators who come to complain that transit exists) and it has to get done. Not voting for it would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. But I also don’t like being extorted and rewarding the management and board who put us in this position, who sold us on expansion after expansion while neglecting basic upkeep of their infrastructure, and this bond measure reeks of extortion and bailing out mismanagement.

  49.  

    JustJake

    For starters, how about a more nuanced, comprehensive examination of the entire structure of BART? It’s not a “take it or else” choice. We’ve followed the yellow brick road of letting BART decide the path, and they have shown us, emphatically, that they cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of the public. If the public has the balls to reject this bond measure, future options will remain on the table. Perhaps a neutral, investigatory task force could be formed to analyze and reform BART. What is clear is that the status quo manner of BART operation has failed.

  50.  

    mx

    Why does it not surprise me that the only things you’ll support spending money on are police and prisons? I’d think you’d at least support bonds to pay for new 12 lane freeways though, no?