Vote Bay Smart: transportation investments we need

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Since 2000, the population of the Bay Area has grown by 870,000. Just 500,000 of that growth has occurred in the last six years.

We Need Investment in Our Transportation Infrastructure: Our Bay Depends On It. 

We all know that the Bay Area is an incomparable place to live. There are world-class cities, rich history and culture, a thriving economy, and ample recreational opportunities, featuring majestic expanses of nearby open space. At the heart of it all is our region’s greatest natural treasure: San Francisco Bay.

Unfortunately, we all also know that Bay Area traffic is incomparable. If you’ve spent any time traveling at rush hour, whether on the roads or public transit, you know the frustration this causes firsthand.

Since 2000, the population of the Bay Area has grown by 870,000. Just 500,000 of that growth has occurred in the last six years.

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A boom in population growth has outpaced the expansion and upgrading of our transportation infrastructure.

Between 2010 and 2040, our population is expected to grow 30 percent. This growth has outpaced the expansion and upgrading of our transportation infrastructure, putting enormous strain on the entire system. It is also a major driver of our region’s skyrocketing housing costs that are forcing many residents to move farther away from their jobs and take on longer commutes.

This time lapse video shows a map of central Bay Area traffic throughout the course of a typical weekday, illustrating the gridlock that drivers face on virtually every major freeway. And the congestion isn’t limited to the morning or evening commutes. In fact, the “evening” commute begins at 2:30 p.m. By 5 p.m., there is a sea of red surrounding the Bay that doesn’t clear up fully until well past 9 p.m.

This map of course doesn’t show ridership on buses or BART, which get extremely crowded and inaccessible at pressure points during the day, leading to delays and increasingly frequent breakdowns.

All of this causes serious negative impacts on the quality of our air and the health of our Bay. When people spend more time in traffic, they emit more greenhouse gases that pollute our air and contribute to global warming, and more toxic airborne particulates that wind up in Baywater. They also leave behind more trash and PCBs on our roadways to contaminate stormwater runoff that flows into the Bay.

As our over-stressed public transit systems become less reliable and accessible, and the region continues to grow, more and more commuters take to their cars, exacerbating these problems.

Our transportation infrastructure throughout the region needs significant expansion and upgrades to accommodate growth and relieve congestion. Fortunately, we have a chance to make real progress this November.

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More time in traffic causes serious negative impacts on the quality of our air and the health of our Bay.

There are three key ballot measures that will make particularly critical improvements to our transportation system, helping to reduce road congestion and encouraging expanded use of public transit: BART District Measure RR, AC Transit District Measure C1, and Santa Clara County Measure B.

You can get detailed information on each of these measures at our Bay Smart Ballot Measure page.

Real benefits for the Bay from these ballot measures will include: fewer cars on the road, less particulate matter to pollute our air and water, and less trash and toxins on our roadways to wash into the Bay with every storm.

As our region continues to grow in the coming years, we have a responsibility to protect the health of the Bay – and the health of all Bay Area residents – as much as possible. Improving our transportation infrastructure is one of the most effective ways we can do that, so let’s vote Bay Smart on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Paid for by Save The Bay.

Voter Guide: Saving the Bay by sustaining the Bay Area

As the Bay Area struggles to accommodate rapid growth, it is critical to invest in affordable housing, improved transportation, and community infrastructure.
As the Bay Area struggles to accommodate rapid growth, it is critical to invest in affordable housing, improved transportation, and community infrastructure.

Already, 2016 has been a pivotal year in the remarkable history of Save The Bay.

After 55 years of hugely successful work to protect San Francisco Bay from damaging shoreline development, dumping, and storm water-borne toxic trash, the passage of Measure AA on the June 2016 ballot marked the evolution of our mission from rescuing the Bay to restoring it.

But 2016 isn’t over yet, and now we’re taking another giant step to advance Bay Smart solutions to threats posed by our region’s rapid growth.

For the first time in Save The Bay’s history, we’re endorsing 10 local ballot measures focused on upgrading the Bay Area’s outmoded transportation, housing, and infrastructure.

Download our Bay Smart Voter guide

These measures align with Save The Bay’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which extends our work upland and upstream from the shoreline to address sustainability issues facing our region in ways that will benefit San Francisco Bay.

Our challenge is to reduce the flow of pollutants into the Bay, increase the efficiency of water use, decrease emissions of airborne particulates and greenhouse gases, reduce heat island effects, and improve access to the shoreline, all while the Bay Area’s population is projected to grow 30 percent larger.

This slate of measures takes important steps toward these goals by:

  • Funding public transportation upgrades and roadway improvements that will decrease automobile use and storm water runoff, and the pollution they contribute to the Bay
  • Creating affordable housing that will alleviate homeless encampments – which are a major source of Bay pollution – and maximize the environmental benefits of denser development by reducing displacement of working families from our urban centers
  • Expanding the use of green infrastructure and increasing urban greening, which will keep the Bay cleaner and healthier and help more people to enjoy its beauty.

Taken together, these measures advance the key environmental justice goal of ensuring that disadvantaged communities, which have suffered the most from environmental damage, do not suffer further as our region adapts to become more resilient to climate change.

These measures will also reduce the pressure that lack of transportation and housing infrastructure creates for more sprawl into open space, including baylands, and will help preserve the political consensus for protecting the Bay that comes from our region’s shared sense that it belongs to us all.

We hope you and all of our region’s residents who love the Bay take a moment to review the “Bay Smart” slate on Nov. 8, and follow its recommendations when you vote.

Passing these ballot measures is just the beginning. We’ll be working with partner organizations, businesses and municipalities to advance a Bay Smart communities agenda through other policy mechanisms like local and state legislation, regulatory changes, and by helping cities improve best practices.

Ultimately, saving the Bay will require saving the Bay Area’s quality of life. In the words of our strategic plan, “We must help save the Bay Area as a sustainable community with a healthy Bay at its heart.”