Bay Area League Day Targets Transportation in the 21st Century

Traffic-BARTcommuters_BayBridge backdrop
The annual Bay Area League Day hosted by LWV Bay Area on February 6, 2016 in San Pablo revealed recent developments and pressing concerns in transportation for Leaguers eager for an update on this topic of practical importance in their day-to-day lives.

Keynote speaker State Senator Jim Beall, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing, set a tone of anxiety over the perpetually insufficient revenue for transportation generally and road maintenance in particular, a concern echoed by speakers on three subsequent panels.

Three speakers on Funding stressed the difficulty of passing state funding because it requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature while local funding comes from voter approved sales taxes. Sales taxes impact low-income families more than wealthier families even though revenue for transportation ultimately benefits everyone.

The Innovation and Technology panel dealt with new ways for organizations to influence transit choices by workers, for example, by altering parking options and reducing traffic with HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes designed to “promote social equity.” Promoting social equity can be tricky, however. Traffic Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber, which gained support because they created jobs, are now thought to be increasing traffic because they charge less than licensed taxis. Whether traffic congestion will be tamed in the future remains uncertain despite technological advances such as driverless cars.

The panel on Cultural Changes Impacting Transportation discussed changes made by government agencies like the San Francisco Department of the Environment, activist non-profits like Genesis which collaborate to promote inclusion of underserved communities, and businesses like CALSTART, which is borrowing greener bus technology to make truck operation more climate friendly.

Given the wealth of material on transportation heard by the League Day audience and briefly covered here, it’s not surprising that Bay Area League Day continues to attract Leaguers, including LWVBAE members Deborah Malbec, Helene Lecar, Sherry Smith, Christine Wenrich, Jean Safir, Mim Hawley and Adena Ishii. League member Ken Bukowski’s videos of the event can be viewed on his website. Link for Sen. Beall’s talk:
– Ruby MacDonald

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