Tag Archives: Measure VV

Transit expansion doesn’t always make sense

16 Dec

There’s this funny thing that happens when you get into activism on a particular issue. Like when I first started working on medical marijuana, everyone I knew started emailing me articles about medical marijuana. Of course, since I work more than 40 hours a week on the issue, I’d usually already seen these articles long before my friends and family.

So now that everyone knows I’m all about public transit, the same thing is happening. But it’s different this time because sometimes it’s a bit less clear when public transit issues are positive or negative (unlike with medical marijuana, when it’s pretty clear that a DEA raid is a bad thing). So I got some emails and heard some comments about Joyce Roy’s race and how it sounded so great that she was taking on those terrible Van Hool buses (which I love) because my friends had never been on the Van Hools and had been reading too much of the East Bay Express.

But the most problematic phenomenon I’ve come across is that my friends who don’t know much about transit but support it wholeheartedly assume that all transit expansion is good. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.

Earlier this month, The Overhead Wire focused on this issue and conducted a poll of its readership, asking what is the worst transit project that is currently being planned. Two of the projects that were nominated are in the Bay Area – Bart to San Jose and the San Francisco Central Subway. Neither of these projects “won” the poll, but combined, they got as many votes as the winner.

Eric has already thoroughly explained why Bart to San Jose makes no sense and has made the case for why the current incarnation of the SF Central Subway is not the best project, so I won’t dwell on that here.

You’re probably wondering at this point why you should care about this, living in Oakland and all, where currently there aren’t any super-expensive or superfluous transit projects being planned. Well, transit money is limited, and these projects will be pulling funds from the same regional, state, and federal funds that the East Bay vies for. This means that every bad transit project in the Bay Area (and to a lesser extent anywhere in the state or nation) endangers transit in Oakland.

dto510 argued last month that Oakland transit is totally screwed, but I don’t think the picture is quite so bleak. After all, BRT is finally moving along, now that we’ve defeated Measure KK in Berkeley. Alameda and Contra Costa County voters also approved Measure VV, which is keeping AC Transit afloat, even in the face of further funding cuts from the state.

Transit advocates have already raised concerns that President-elect Obama wants to sink billions into car-centered road projects, and I share those concerns. But as Obama considers funding massive infrastructure projects, his administration would also do well to remember that not all transit projects are equally beneficial, and some just don’t make any sense at all. That’s something for him to ponder on his train ride to the inauguration.

My brief California & Oakland endorsements

2 Nov

I hadn’t planned to write a post with my endorsements, partly because I feel like others have that covered, and partly because a full endorsement post would take forever to write. But I realized I was going to email some of my friends with my endorsements so I figured I’d post them here too.

(Note that I’m skipping a bunch of races, either because they’re not really contested – I don’t see how Barbara Lee or Sandre Swanson could benefit from my endorsement – or because I don’t feel strongly about the race.)

California Propositions:

I agree with Calitics on the propositions so I’m just posting their endorsements here (emphasis added to the propositions I’m especially concerned about). Visit their site for a full explanation of these endorsements.

Proposition The Calitics Position Calitics Tag
Prop 1A (High Speed Rail) YES, YES, YES! Prop 1A
Prop 2(Farm Animal Conditions) Yes Prop 2
Prop 3 (Children’s Hospital Bonds) Yes Prop 3
Prop 4 (Parental Notification Again) No, NO, and NO AGAIN Prop 4
Prop 5 (Drug Rehab Programs) Yes Prop 5
Prop 6 (Runner Anti-Gang) NO Prop 6
Prop 7 (Renewable Power Standard) No Prop 7
Prop 8 (Anti-Marriage) NO! Prop 8
Prop 9 (Runner Victim’s Rights) No Prop 9
Prop 10 (Pickens Natural Gas) No Prop 10
Prop 11 (Redistricting) No Prop 11
12 (Veterans Bonds) Yes Prop 12

Oakland City Council At-Large: Rebecca Kaplan!!!

I’ve committed many hours of my time to getting Rebecca Kaplan elected so I hope you’ll join me in voting enthusiastically for her. If you need a reminder of why to vote for Rebecca, check out my initial endorsement from the June primary or my more recent explanation of why I’m voting FOR Rebecca, and not against Kerry Hamill.

Measures N, NN & OO: No!

I’m voting no on all the Oakland measures. While they might sound like they’re good ideas – increasing teacher pay, getting more police, and giving money to youth programs – they’re not!

Others have already done a great job explaining why you should vote these measures down, so go check these out:

Measures VV & WW: Yes!

If you appreciate buses and parks, vote yes on Measure VV & Measure WW. If you missed it, check out my full endorsement post on VV. Then, head over to A Better Oakland to read V Smoothe’s endorsement of WW, including a very detailed list of how Oakland would benefit from its passage.

AC Transit Director: Chris Peeples

Chris has been on the AC Transit Board for years and has done a great job. He thoroughly impressed me at the East Bay Young Democrats endorsement meeting. His opponent, Joyce Roy, has staked her campaign on complaining about Van Hool buses (which I love) and fighting BRT (which I cannot wait for). This choice is easy. Check out Chris Peeples’ and Joyce Roy’s answers to the East Bay Young Dems questionnaire for more reasons to vote for Chris.

Berkeley Measure KK: NO!!!!

Yeah, I know, this blog’s about Oakland, not Berkeley, but I couldn’t resist. KK’s anti-environment and anti-transit. That’s why the entire city council, the mayor, the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters, and the Democratic Party are opposing it. If you need more reasons to vote no, check out the No on KK website or read the short opinion piece I wrote for the Daily Cal about KK.

Why Measure V V must pass

31 Oct

I haven’t had a chance to write about it here yet, but I’ve been thinking about Measure V V a lot lately. Measure V V, if passed, would increase an existing parcel tax by $4 per month and extend the tax for 10 years in order to fill AC Transit’s budget gap. If this measure does not pass (and it needs 2/3 support to pass), AC Transit will be forced raise fares AND decrease service.

If you’re a regular reader, I think you’ll know why I think this is bad news. I depend on AC Transit to get around, and though I could afford increased fares, I know many others could not. Also, I could not afford decreased service. I depend on AC Transit to get me to work and meetings on time, which it usually succeeds in doing, but decreased service would make this much harder to accomplish.

Now you might be thinking – why is AC Transit having these problems in the first place? If they had planned better, couldn’t they have avoided this budget gap altogether? I strongly believe the answer is no.

See, two things happened this year that hurt transit agencies throughout the state (and in many other states). We all know that gas prices have skyrocketed, but you might not have realized how much this has effected AC Transit. Every $.10 increase per gallon increase adds $650,000 annually to AC Transit’s costs, which means that the rise in gas prices this year has added several million dollars to the budget.

AC Transit might have been able to plug this budget gap, but then the state came in and took funding away from all local transit agencies to close their own budget. AC Transit lost $15 million in state funding, which turned the small budget gap into a HUGE gap that clearly could not be filled just by tightening expenses.

So back in May, the AC Transit Board of Directors proposed several plans to increase fares and held a community meeting to seek input. I attended this meeting, where more than 50 people spoke out against the proposed fare increases. I left that meting feeling really good. It felt that the board members had listened to the community and were genuinely concerned about the effect a fare increase would have, especially on youth and seniors.

Apparently, the board did listen because instead of increasing fares, AC Transit put Measure V V on the ballot. But if VV loses, fare increases and service decreases will immediately be back on the table. So if you value transit, vote yes on Measure V V.