Bay Area Council Blog: Transportation Archive



A major milestone in improving Caltrain service was reached this week (Jan. 5) as the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the planned electrification of the Caltrain corridor from San Francisco to San Jose, in effect taking a big step forward towards implementing the project. The FEIR analyzed the impacts of the electrification project on the environment and surrounding community, which included potential impacts related to noise, traffic, visual aesthetics, and other issues. An electrification project will vastly expand capacity to accommodate future ridership growth, alleviate traffic congestion by 619,000 vehicle miles daily, and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region. A 2012 Bay Area Council Economic Institute study also found that the project would further drive economic growth in the corridor, generating $2.5 billion in economic benefits and supporting the creation of nearly 10,000 jobs.

Electrification of this critical mass transit system has been among the Bay Area Council’s signature policy priorities, as we successfully worked to secure funding for the project and more recently formed the Caltrain Commuter Coalition to drive these improvements forward. To engage in our transportation policy work, contact VP of Public Policy Michael Cunningham.

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The Bay Area Council this week (Dec. 10) doubled down on its efforts to tackle the region’s most pressing challenges, unveiling a bold policy agenda for 2015 that prioritizes building workforce housing, creating the workforce of the future, securing water supply reliability, battling traffic and modernizing vital communications and energy infrastructure. The Council’s Executive Committee, under the leadership of Chair David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America, approved a set of policy priorities that include:

Workforce Housing: The Bay Area’s inability to meet housing demand is creating a massive affordability crisis and threatening to hamper the region’s economic growth. The Housing Committee, Co-Chaired by TMG Partners Chairman & CEO Michael Covarrubias and Signature Development Group President Michael Ghielmetti, will focus on ways to ease regulatory barriers and speed new housing in so-called regional “priority development areas.” To engage in our housing work, contact policy Vice President Matt Regan.

21st Century Infrastructure: New energy and communications technologies are essential to building the “smart cities” of the future and driving economic growth. However, the regulatory powers are not keeping pace. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs PG&E Chairman, CEO & President Anthony F. Earley and AT&T California President Kenneth McNeely, the 21st Century Task Force is driving legislative and regulatory change that will enable the development and utilization of advanced energy and communications networks. To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Commute Improvement: Growing traffic indicates an expanding economy, but also reflects insufficient transportation capacity and outdated operations. Under the leadership of Arup Principal John Eddy, the Council’s Transportation Committee is focused on leveraging new technologies to boost highway capacity and efficiency, increasing investment in mass transit and identifying new reliable transportation funding sources. To engage in our commute improvement work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Water Supply and Security: With growing and often-conflicting demand and limited supply, ensuring that the Bay Area has sufficient water is vital to the region’s economic health. The Water Committee, Co-Chaired by Montezuma Wetlands Managing Partner Jim Levine and Suffolk Construction Company West Coast President Andrew Ball, will work to ensure Proposition 1 funds support best regional projects and continue to advance coequal goals of supply reliability and environmental preservation in the Bay Delta. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

Workforce of the Future: The world of work is changing much faster than the education and training world. This mismatch creates “skills gaps” between what employers want and the skills job applicants possess. Students and educators need better information about the world of work and the skills that are needed for high demand jobs. Employers need strategies for engaging with and influencing the public sector talent/workforce supply chain. The Council will work to establish a regional model of public-private cooperation for the future workforce. To engage in our Workforce of the Future work, contact policy Vice President Linda Galliher.

The Bay Area Council extends its hearty thanks to Board member and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland President and CEO Bert Lubin and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute Executive Director Janet King for generously hosting our Executive Committee and Board of Directors meeting. The Council has been honored to work with Dr. Lubin in our early childhood education work, including the launch earlier this year of our Talk Read Sing campaign in Oakland.



With housing costs (and demand) soaring in San Francisco and elsewhere in the region, Oakland is poised to see a major surge in new residential real estate development. Rachel Flynn, Director of Oakland’s Planning and Building Development, told a packed house at the Housing and Sustainable Development Committee meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 25) that the city is ready to take advantage of this opportunity. Flynn talked about Oakland’s solid fundamentals – excellent location, extensive public transportation options, a rich cultural diversity, and competitive real estate pricing – and identified areas where environmental approvals are already in place that can help speed development. Flynn’s message was clear: Oakland wants to entice developers and residents, and it is becoming a better investment all the time.

The Committee also heard from Bay Area Council Board member Kristina Lawson, a partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, on efforts to update the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and from Bay Area Council Vice President Matt Regan on the latest developments regarding the Regional Prosperity Plan being developed through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Thank you to Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP for hosting us. To engage in our housing policy work, contact Policy Associate Brianne Riley.


Big Step in Caltrain Modernization, Electrification

The electrification and modernization of one of the region’s critical mass transit systems, which has been among the Bay Area Council’s signature policy efforts, reached a major milestone this week with the release of a final environmental impact report. The Caltrain Modernization Project will expand capacity to accommodate future ridership growth, alleviate traffic congestion, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 176,000 metric tons annually.

The Council was instrumental in securing a state commitment of $720 million from Proposition 1A high speed rail bond funds to pay for the project, and has partnered the San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA) and Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) to form the Caltrain Commuter Coalition (C3) to collectively advocate for these improvements. A 2013 Bay Area Council Economic Institute study found the project would generate $2.5 billion in economic benefits and support almost 10,000 jobs. The Caltrain Board of Directors is scheduled to review and approve the Final EIR on Jan. 8, 2015 and the Council will be voicing its support. To engage in our transportation policy work, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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BART today (Nov. 21) cut the ribbon on its new Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), with hundreds of elected, business, government and community leaders gathering to celebrate this vital new link in the Bay Area’s transportation system. The three-mile elevated rail line provides a smooth, fast and convenient connection between the Oakland Coliseum BART station and the airport, replacing a bus shuttle line that often gets bogged down in heavy street traffic. The Bay Area Council, which was instrumental in the original formation of BART, was a proud advocate of the Oakland Airport Connector through many years of planning and public review and worked with many other partners to counter opposition and help secure funding.

Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman spoke at a VIP breakfast ahead of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, emphasizing the important economic benefits of OAC, its vital role in the region’s transportation network and calling for a “fresh and expanded vision” for meeting the Bay Area’s future transportation needs. “It’s a good time now to consider what BART and our regional transportation system will need over the next 40 years, and to commit ourselves to fight for it, just as hard as we all fought for the project that we are celebrating today,” Wunderman said. He praised the public-private partnership that BART has employed to design, build and operate OAC, highlighted the heavy reliance on local funding to pay for it and called for similarly innovative and creative methods to finance more of the region’s major transportation projects.

Read Jim Wunderman’s full remarks>>


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Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman joined an august panel of business and policy leaders this week (Nov. 20) at the Milken Institute California Summit in Los Angeles for a discussion on the resurgence of the city as a driver of policy and economic growth. Wunderman engaged in a lively discussion with Carol Armstrong, Director of the L.A. River Project for the City of Los Angeles; Riverside Mayor William Bailey; Los Angeles Times Publisher & CEO Austin Beutner; and Plenary Concessions Executive Chairman Dale Bonner, who served as California’s secretary of business, transportation and housing from 2007 to 2011. Kevin Knowden, the Milken Institute’s California Center Director and Managing Economist, moderated the discussion.

During the discussion, Wunderman highlighted how public-private partnerships and private sector financing mechanisms in major Bay Area cities are advancing innovative solutions toward the region’s transportation, water and infrastructure challenges—citing the Bay Area Council’s role in the Oakland Airport Connector and development of San Francisco’s commuter shuttle pilot program as prime examples. Watch the discussion.



In contrast to the rest of the Central Valley, the development of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties is being driven more by the growth of the Bay Area and Sacramento than by agriculture. The University of the Pacific’s North San Joaquin Valley Regional Economic Assessment Conference in Modesto drew 75 leaders from the surrounding counties from the public and private sectors. Highlighting the primary conduit between the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area, Bay Area Council Economic Institute Vice President Tracey Grose presented findings from the Institute’s recent report, Tri-Valley Rising, that illustrate the growing flows of people and goods through the area. In addition to offering affordable housing for Bay Area workers, Grose explained that the Bay Area’s growing economic ties with the Northern San Joaquin Valley include distribution and manufacturing facilities as well as growing opportunities in the field of smart agriculture.

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New WETA Chief Outlines Regional Ferry Vision

On Thursday (Nov. 13), the Bay Area Council hosted a special discussion with Vice Admiral Jody Breckenridge (USCG Retired), Governor Jerry Brown’s recent appointee to lead the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) board. WETA is dually responsible with operating and expanding passenger ferry service on the bay, as well as coordinating water transit emergency preparedness. Vice Admiral Breckenridge highlighted the need for sustainable expansion of ferry service lines to connect new population and business centers, providing a viable alternative to increasingly congested highways and other strained transit systems. Waterfront developers and employers with ferry accessible locations urged WETA to partner together to embrace the commute relief challenge, as the future competitiveness of the regional economy depends on it.

WETA was originally created as the result of Bay Area Council planning and advocacy – led by Harbor Bay Isle Associates Chairman and CEO Ron Cowan. The Council continues to work with employers, developers, and cities to identify opportunities and guide the vision for a robust ferry service on the San Francisco Bay. To engage in the Council’s water transit work, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.


800 Celebrate Giants Win, Business Leadership at 2014 Annual Dinner

About 800 of our closest friends gathered Wednesday (Oct. 29) for the Bay Area Council’s 69th Annual Dinner and Business Hall of Fame at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, where we honored Intuit Founder Scott Cook and former Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson.

Oh yeah, and we turned the whole event into a big viewing party to watch the San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals in a rollicking Game 7 that featured a sublime and historic performance by pitcher and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Kaiser Permanente and CEO Bernard J. Tyson for their continuing support of the Bay Area Council. Thank you also to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown for dropping by to add their congratulations to our two honorees.

See a photo gallery of the festivities.



As Caltrain marked the 10th anniversary of its Baby Bullet service on Monday (Oct. 27), Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman joined the festivities and announced the formation of a new advocacy coalition that will work to support efforts to expand Caltrain capacity and service.  While the Baby Bullet has helped to fuel the astounding economic growth along the Highway 101 over the past decade, Caltrain now faces unprecedented ridership and capacity constraints.  Caltrain is working to address these challenges through short-term plans to operate longer diesel trains and long-term plans to operate high performance electric trains, but looming financial and political challenges still need to be overcome. The Bay Area Council was instrumental in helping secure funding to modernize and electrify the Caltrain system.

The Caltrain Commuter Coalition (C3) – which includes participation from member companies such as Google, Oracle, LinkedIn, San Francisco 49ers, Stanford University and others – will collectively advocate for Caltrain modernization, capacity enhancement, and other improvements that will bolster job creation and continue to drive economic growth in the region.  Other groups supporting C3 include San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA), San Francisco Planning PUR  and Silicon Valley Leadership Group. For more information about the Council’s transportation work, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.