Voters of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, on Nov. 3, 1998, passed identical ballot measures that request MTC "to include passenger rail service as part of the redesign of the Bay Bridge ..." MTC staff had opposed rail on the bridge, and tried to even exclude the possibility of rail transit on the bridge in the future. This is another example of having different goals, the theme of this report. MTC allocates most of the highway and transit financing in the Bay Area, but has been biased towards using transportation money for highways since its inception.
The mayors of four cities have announced their support for restoration of a rail line on the Bay Bridge and arranged to put the ballot measures on the ballot: Mayors Shirley Dean of Berkeley, Willie Brown of San Francisco, Ken Bukowski of Emeryville, Elihu Harris of Oakland and also Oakland's mayor-elect Jerry Brown. Mayor Dean of Berkeley was quoted in the Chronicle "I used to ride the Key [System]. You could ride it from downtown Berkeley all the way to San Francisco. It was cheap and it was fast."
Update: the Caltrans Director flatly refused to comply with the public's vote by including the possibility of light rail transit in the design of the new bridge in a letter sent to the four mayors and mayor-elect dated December 28, 1998. This should not be surprising, coming from the organization that eliminated the trains from the bridge in 1958, and by analyzing their goals. The struggle to restore rail transit is continuing.
[Also see the MTS web page for the Bay Bridge for historical photos and the most recent struggle.]
Bicycle prohibitions are repealed from all "expressways," and bicycles are now allowed on Dumbarton and Antioch bridges, riding on the previously unused shoulders. The struggle continues for using shoulders of bridges: the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and the Haward-San Mateo bridge, and to include bicycles in new bridge designs.
Pedestrian are now allowed on most "expressways." This struggle continues for allowing pedestrians to use all pedestrian paths, sidewalks and most shoulders.
Electric transit systems are gradually rebuilding in San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego and the Los Angeles region; and BART has, to a small extent, replaced the Key System (which operated many times more electric guideway transit between Albany and San Leandro).
In Santa Clara County, the Cities of Sunnyvale and Mountain View vigorously competed for the extension of the light rail line to go to their respective downtowns. Mountain View won by financing part of the line, now under construction. Extensions to Campbell and East San Jose will follow. The struggle for the new extensions will be to keep highway interests from front-loading county transportation projects with highways and then using transit funds mentioned in the "advisory" sales tax projects measure to pay for highway cost over-runs.
Caltrans and highway and traffic engineering departments of cities and counties do not offer the best solution to all transportation problems. Their focus is limited to goals #1 and #2 which serves automobile and truck transportation. They have historically excluded other transportation modes, prohibited and destroyed competitors, and damaged the environment.
Prohibiting or destroying transportation that competes with the automobile is no longer acceptable, just like smoking at work is now not acceptable. Yet, massive subsidies to the automobile and truck transportation system, and government requirements for private subsidies to the automobile, have almost the same result. Only a small minority, in what used to be a majority, use transit, bicycles, or walk.
These subsidies to motor vehicles result in a skewed economic system. It is very costly for the economy and the environment. And, it's unfair for those not using automobiles. This major imbalance in the economy is starting to be recognized by many organizations. The Free Market for Transportation Plan by the Modern Transit Society shows how to correct this. This Plan, if implemented, would benefit all transportation modes, including the automobile, as well as the economy and the environment. The challenge is to implement this, or any other, plan, to achieve fairness and increased transportation efficiencies by eliminating these subsidies.