big plans for expanding regional rail service
Regional rail operators have big plans for the future of transit. Representatives from ACE Rail, BART, Caltrain, and Valley Link Rail presented their projects, goals, and upcoming work to the Bay Area Council Transportation Committee this week, hosted by Google. Covering a range of topics from funding and infrastructure to operations and quality of life for commuters, all signs point to significant and meaningful improvement to rail transit in the Bay Area, near-term and long term. These improvements are also crucial to the Council’s work in organizing the Northern California Megaregion, identified as the 21-county area stretching from the Bay Area to Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley. “Unifying the vision of rail transit improvements is key in the strategy for the success of the megaregion,” Council CEO Jim Wunderman said. “We need to ensure there is a thoughtful strategic plan for housing and transportation as the megaregion continues to grow, and working together to connect these rail projects is a great step in the right direction.”
Also on the topic of transit improvements, Andy Fremier, Deputy Executive Director of the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), gave a status update on Regional Measure 3, a bridge toll increase which voters approved last year following a campaign the Council led with SPUR and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. The RM3 funds will be invested in a number of key traffic-relief and transit improvement projects across the region. BATA in January began collecting RM3 toll funds but is holding off investing any of the money until several lawsuits are resolved. A judge recently dismissed one of the biggest lawsuits, but an appeal is still possible. To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Gwen Litvak.