Let's revisit regional rail transit
It's been five-and-a-half decades since the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission (RTC) issued its monumental 1957 report to the state Legislature calling for a phased construction and operation of unified mass rapid transit under one management, on its own right of way, and without grade crossings around the Bay.
The first three-county phase -- BART as we know today -- stems from a 1962 $792 million bond (paid off over a decade ago) at a time when San Francisco had only two buildings over a dozen stories high. This November, partial funding for BART to Livermore should be on the ballot as part of the Alameda County Transportation Commission's Measure B3.
Five counties with 6 million people ring San Francisco Bay: the original three BART counties plus San Mateo and Santa Clara, which bought into BART extensions to SFO/Millbrae and to Berryessa in San Jose. The time has come to annex those two counties into the BART district and plan to grade, separate and convert Caltrain to BART south from Millbrae, loop BART around the Bay, extend BART to the Golden Gate and Carquinez bridges, take the system over the Altamont and to Brentwood, and grade separate the Capitol Corridor in the East Bay on the shorter, more direct Mulford line.
Adjusted for inflation and the five-county population, a bond issue equal to that for BART in 1962 would raise about $16 billion today.
Our transportation planners should revisit the massive RTC report and update it. A well-planned, balanced bond measure could and should pass.
--Robert S. Allen was on the BART board of directors from 1974-88, representing District 5. Retired from the Southern Pacific, Western Division, he is a life member of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association and has been active in rail transit, high speed rail, and the economics of railway location and operation committees and commissions. He lives in Livermore.