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Taken from my bike ride home from SF

Dumbarton Rail is a proposed project that would build a commuter rail bridge to connect the Union City BART station with the Redwood City Caltrain station.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the Dumbarton Rail project, as presented in one of the recent public meetings on the project, is viable nor a wise use of public funds. I’m a huge public transit fan, especially rail. However, one of the things I learned in getting my Masters degree in Transportation Engineering, is that very expensive rail projects are not a panacea to solving traffic problems.

First, rail lines are expensive – BART costs $780 million per mile to build! No specific financial figures were given in the meeting I attended, only the vague promise that this would be a public/private partnership with Facebook contributing towards the project.

The rough estimates I’ve seen put the cost of this project at one to two billion dollars. While Regional Measure 3 (the recent transportation measure) funds might pay for some of it, it wouldn’t come anywhere close to funding the whole thing.

We need to ask, “What else could we do with that amount of money?” The Bay Area is plagued by a lack of coordinated planning which results in expensive, disconnected, piecemeal projects that do little to alleviate the region’s traffic.

Indeed, the presenters at the public meeting mentioned the large jobs / housing imbalance that is the cause of the traffic on the Dumbarton Bridge. This project does nothing to alleviate the jobs / housing imbalance – if anything, it will exacerbate it, making it easier for Facebook to avoid any responsibility for the lack of housing affordable to its workforce in its own backyard.

Even if this project was able to get some people out of their cars to commute from the East Bay to the Peninsula, how will people get to and from the East Bay stations? Most of them will drive, creating even more gridlock on our streets at rush hour.

This project will add yet one more piece to the already complex public transportation infrastructure of the Bay Area. Anyone who has to transfer from service operated by one agency to another knows that even our existing services are not well coordinated with each other. Let’s get our current public transportation infrastructure right before spending another $1-2 billion on yet another boondoggle that does little to solve our traffic nightmare.

Source: https://sf.curbed.com/2018/6/18/17464616/bay-area-subway-train-rail-costs-price-bart-muni