Category Archives: Bridge tolls

SF Chron: To ease traffic, the Bay Area should vote yes on Measure 3

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle
[BenIndy Editor: Benicia Progressive Democrats oppose Measure 3, but the decision was not an easy one, nor were members unanimous  in voting to oppose it.  There are many good arguments for voting yes on Measure 3.  Benicia Mayor Patterson:  “the funds from RM3 are to enhance and grow transit…’we can’t drive our way out of congestion’.  The intensity of the opposition to RM3 by some is weird considering the need to reduce fossil fuel burning.”  See more below.  – RS]

Editorial: To ease traffic, the Bay Area should vote yes on Measure 3

Chronicle Editorial Board, 3/16/18, Updated: 3/17/18 1:18pm
The Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. Under Regional Measure 3, tolls will increase on the Bay Area's bridges by a total of $3 over the next seven years. The funds will go to a wide variety of regional road and transit projects, including ferries, the BART extension, and improvements to 680. Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle
The Chronicle The Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. Under Regional Measure 3, tolls will increase on the Bay Area’s bridges by a total of $3 over the next seven years. The funds will go to a wide variety of regional road and transit projects, including ferries, the BART extension, and improvements to 680. Photo: Santiago Mejia

The Bay Area has outgrown its regional transportation options.

Everyone who commutes in the Bay Area — whether it’s by car, by rail or by bus — can agree on this point. Aside from housing, the Bay Area’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure is our top regional challenge, and it’s affecting everything from our quality of life to our economic growth.

That’s why a long list of elected officials, business groups and regional transportation organizations have come together to push Regional Measure 3. The measure, which will be on the June ballot in nine Bay Area counties, will authorize toll increases on the region’s seven state-owned bridges. (The Golden Gate Bridge, with its separate authority, is excluded.)

Current tolls will increase by $1 on Jan. 1, 2019, then by another $1 in 2022 and 2025. That will bring tolls to $8 on every bridge except the Bay Bridge, where the toll will be $9 during peak commute times.

Toll increases are never easy to swallow. But it’s impossible to argue with the needs the measure has specifically identified for the resulting $4.45 billion in funding.

The North Bay will benefit from improvements to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, to state Highways 29 and 37, to U.S. Highway 101 and to Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) service.

San Francisco can look forward to a downtown extension for Caltrain, upgrades to the Clipper card system and a badly needed expansion of the Muni fleet.

Weary East Bay commuters will see relief from improvements to Interstates 80, 680 and 880, as well as some of the region’s more notorious snarls, where I-680 meets Highways 4 and 84.

On the Peninsula and in the South Bay, this money will go toward the second phase of the necessary BART extension to San Jose. It’ll also help connect the east side of San Jose to BART via a regional connector. Road improvements include the Dumbarton corridor and the Highway 101/92 interchange.

“Over the past two generations, we’ve barely added any capacity to regional transit,” said Gabriel Metcalf, president of SPUR, an urban planning think tank. “This is a very practical next step when it comes to our regional transit needs.”

The project list, which was developed by staff members at regional transit organizations, leans heavily toward improving the region’s mass transit options.

There are excellent reasons for this — the Bay Area can’t drive its way out of traffic congestion, and mass transit remains the most efficient way to move the most people.

Mass transit is also very expensive to build and to operate. Passing this regional measure could make the Bay Area more competitive in battles for state and federal matching funds.

Most bridge commuters can afford these toll increases. (The Bay Area’s toll payers tend to have higher incomes than the overall population.) For those who have lower incomes, they’ll continue to receive price reductions for carpooling, and the measure includes a discount for anyone who regularly commutes over two toll bridges.

Low-income transit commuters could actually benefit from the measure. The Clipper card upgrades will allow the Bay Area’s transit authorities to coordinate income-based fare discounts.

The measure doesn’t currently face any organized opposition. It also enjoys the approval of a solid majority of voters in the nine counties.

Those impressive feats are testament to how deeply the Bay Area is affected by traffic congestion, and how necessary many of these projects are.

Regional Measure 3 can’t and won’t fix all of the Bay Area’s traffic and infrastructure problems. For that, we’ll need state and federal support.

But that’s been too long in coming, and it’s past time for the Bay Area to make the improvements we can make on our own.

Measure 3 will result in real, measurable improvements to regional commutes, and that’s more than enough reason for the voters to say yes.

This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board. We invite you to express your views in a letter to the editor. Please submit your letter via our online form: SFChronicle.com/letters.
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