The Libertarian Party of San Francisco extends huge thanks to the participants of the 3rd Annual Panel Discussion - Bay Area Growth and Transportation of Sunday, April 10th.  The room was full, the audience was most attentive, and the Q&A lively.  Starchild did his usual great work as panel moderator, keeping the discussion moving but focused. 

Gerald Cauthen and Thomas Rubin are fountains of knowledge and experience, and we are grateful that they gave so freely of their time and talent as our panelists.  At this event, they also proved to be resourceful when the projector we were provided refused to work!  Even though they had prepared PowerPoint presentations, they promptly switched to analog and gave excellent talks without a single prop.  Speakers can only do that when they really know their stuff!

The panelists covered solid material on the subject of local transit systems.

Panel 2016 2

o All systems, including transit, eventually fall victim of their own success. After decades of growth, automobile travel has given rise to gridlock. BART’s trains are now crowded and stations not well maintained, as the system’s capacity has reached its limit.

o Systems must evolve and adapt to new realities, but people responsible for them often prevent effective evolution as they "flag wave" in favor of their own narrow interests. The dismal performance of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area) is a case in point.

o There are cities that have succeeded in designing and implementing novel transportation systems that work well. The City of Curitiba, Brazil, developed Bus Rapid Transit, a system that has the characteristics of a rail system (movement on dedicated streets unimpeded by other traffic, payment of fares made before boarding, accessibility by riders with deferring needs) as well as characteristics of a bus system (avoidance of the very high capital costs of rails and tunnels, so that funds can be allocated to reliability and frequency).

o Effective transportation systems require the selection of "good people," dedicated to good planning. The Bay Area’s regional agencies are led by board members who hold official positions in their own local communities, and are therefore not completely engaged in regional needs. As a result agencies have become "staff driven" rather than leadership driven.

o Bay Area’s transportation is broken. Complete reorganization of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is essential. If such reorganization is to occur, the public must become involved, since public officials are not presently inclined to shake up the status quo. Both panelists recommended public involvement in transportation, neighborhood, and other types of groups, where ideas are discussed and communicated to local officials.

Based on our audience’s comments and questions, our guests agreed that Bay Area’s transportation is broken. Hopefully, our panel incentivized some to participate in actions to fix it.

We at the LPSF make the following suggestions for action:

Participate in the work of the Bay Area Transportation Working Group or SaveMuni:

Become informed about successful transit systems:

Read other than the mainstream media about how some people are researching on what actually works in “freedom, mobility, and affordable home ownership.”