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BART: Good for Car Drivers ...

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Name:Michael Patrick
Location:San Jose, California, United States

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Monday, November 1


BART: Good for Car Drivers

As usual in the SF Bay Area, public transit's importance is measured in terms of benefits to automobile drivers (as in, "Will BART get the other people off this road so I can get to work faster?"). Bay Bridge traffic, for example, would queue at a walking pace as far away as Rodeo, Pleasant Hill, and Hayward if BART service suddenly vanished. This is according to a UC Berkeley report that underlines BART's congestion-mitigating effects. Antitransit motorists should take note from this report that even they benefit from the existence of public transit--that other people voluntarily board high-capacity vehicles instead of driving their own car (or involuntarily do so if they cannot drive because of finances, disability, or lack of license).

That said, opponents of tomorrow's BART seismic retrofit parcel tax ballot measure say that people from outside the BART district use the service, too, and only users, including the outsiders, should pay for the retrofit. The opponents had better be certain they won't have to drive corridors like 24 after the Big One, but they nevertheless have a point. Should BART draw repair funds exclusively from riders or exclusively from SF-Alameda-CoCo residents?

Such is the choice they give, and it's too either-or. Who benefits from BART? Citizens of the BART district, as a whole, and BART riders. Hence, they should probably all pay. BART should consider instituting both a parcel tax and the No-on-AA campaign's suggested surcharge (not a flat fee but as a percentage of distance traveled on the system). Wouldn't that be fair?

Still, BART district voters should remember when voting tomorrow that the Bay Area will be in serious trouble if no one makes a move. Better, then, to say yes on AA than wait for an unspecified "someone else" to take action on the problem.