The Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) was established in 2012 to identify and advance better transportation solutions for the Bay Area. We began as a small group of like-minded people, but from the outset attracted members and supporters from all parts of the nine county Greater Bay Area. BATWG's scope is regional.
We are non-profit and all volunteer. We work with like-minded groups throughout the Region who want to stop the diversion of scarce transportation resources to ill-conceived pet projects and backward-looking highway expansions. Thanks to several decades of weak regional and local transportation planning, excessive traffic congestion and deficient public transit service now plague virtually every traveler in the Region. BATWG is committed to finding ways of addressing these long standing problems in an objective, thoughtful and cost-effective manner.
The founding members of our organization reside in San Francisco, Napa, Sunnyvale, Livermore, Emeryville, Berkeley and Oakland. We have since added new members and associates from Contra Costa, Marin and San Mateo Counties. Our membership is growing, but we are still a fairly small group. To help stay abreast of events throughout the nine MTC counties, we seek new members from all parts of the Region. If you share our goals please join BATWG; the membership fee is $20 a year.
We are not at this time a 5013c non-profit organization but do anticipate going through the application ordeal in the near future, because we do need and seek Foundation support. (Professional assistance in this area is needed and would be appreciated.)
BATWG meets at 10:00 a.m. on the 3rd Monday of every month in Oakland. Given our far flown membership, those who cannot physically be present at meetings often participate by conference call. When called upon, matters are resolved by majority vote of the paid-up BATWG members who are present at meetings, either in person or by telephone.
Between meetings, BATWG engages with various public agencies and transportation officials throughout the region, as well as in Sacramento and Washington. When the situation calls for it we send representatives to testify and otherwise participate in local, regional, State and community meetings.
The following list provides more information about BATWG and its areas of concern: David Schonbrunn of Sausalito who is also the President of TRANSDEF helps keep us up to date on the Bay Area impacts of California HSR as well as developments in Marin and Sonoma Counties. Mike Setty monitors developments in Napa and Solano Counties, Jason Bejis of Orinda helps us stay abreast of Contra Costa events. Jason also reports on what's going on at the Alameda County Transportation Commission CAC. Bob Feinbaum represents us Transbay Joint Powers Authority CAC meetings and briefs us on the activities and developments of that agency. Howard Wong is our most diligent source of what's going on at the SFMTA and SFCTA. With help from Adina Levin of the Friends of Caltrain, Bob Feinbaum and Gerald Cauthen try to stay abreast of Caltrain electrification and the long-awaited extension of Caltrain into downtown San Francisco. Joyce Roy of Oakland and Gerald Cauthen watch the action at AC Transit. Chris Pareja of Livermore has been instrumental in setting up the BATWG Website; he also lets us know of transportation developments in the Tri-Valley area. Paul Cummings is one of our best sources of information about political and business developments in Oakland and elsewhere in the East Bay. Ed Mason of San Francisco has recently agreed to join Bruce Jenkins in helping keep us abreast of events in Santa Clara County.
In the past 12 months we have had occasion to work closely with California State Assembly members, AC Transit staff, ABAG staff, BART Directors and staff, Peninsula Joint Powers Board, Transbay Joint Powers Authority, Bay Rail Alliance, Friends of Caltrain, Transdef, Alameda Creek Coalition, SaveMuni, San Francisco Tomorrow, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, Mission Bay Alliance, DTX Coalition, Railpac, Train Riders Association of California, and other groups dedicated to bringing a sense of practical reality into Bay Area transportation.
1.) Rejection of MTC's HOT Lane Program: On May 13, 2013, BATWG sent a letter to MTC Director Steve Heminger taking strong exception to MTC's HOT lane program, which includes 300 + lane miles of new Bay Area freeway. Now is no time be expanding Bay Area freeways and permitting the affluent and the influential to speed past freeway backups while everyone else stews in gridlock.
2.) Resolving Transit Labor Disputes: On July 3, 2013, BATWG pointed out the folly of permitting a few hundred BART fare collection agents to adversely affect the lives of millions of Bay Area commuters. No matter what the issues between management and labor, it is not acceptable for a small number of aggrieved public servants to shut down an entire region. In the future such differences should be worked through mediators or if necessary, arbitrators acceptable to the parties.
3.) Guidelines for a Regional Planning Director: On October 24, 2013, BATWG issued a set of proposed guidelines for this vitally important position. If adopted the guidelines would help ensure that in the future the position was occupied by an individual with the experience, imagination, patience and perseverance needed to effectively carry out Bay Area regional planning responsibilities.
4.) AC Transit Improvement: On October 26, 2013, BATWG sent a letter to AC Transit General Manager David Armijo outlining ways of rendering AC Transit more efficient and more responsive to the needs of its riders and would-be riders.
5.) Restructuring MTC: On November 27, 2013, BATWG issued a white paper describing changes to MTC designed to bring it closer to its constituencies around the Region, increase the transparency of its key decisions and strengthen its ability to ensure regional cooperation when necessary.
6.) Dumbarton Rail: On April 14, 2014 BATWG, sent a letter to Mr. Heminger supporting the plan to extend an upgraded Altamont Commuter Express line across a rebuilt Dumbarton Rail Bridge and then via the Caltrain right-of-way into downtown San Francisco. With BART's subaqueous tube between Oakland and San Francisco nearing capacity, the need for a second Bay rail crossing is increasing. The longer MTC avoids facing this problem, the more dire the eventual consequences.
7.) Rejecting Alameda County Measure BB: In 2014, BATWG turned its attention to the Alameda County Transportation Commission's (ACTC's) ill-conceived Measure BB. Measure BB will raise $7.8 billion in new transportation sales taxes and yet fail to address the County's most important transportation problems. Instead the ACTC appears poised to waste much of the money raised on politically-inspired ventures of small consequence.
8.) Rejecting San Francisco's Prop A: In August 2014, BATWG announced its opposition to San Francisco Prop A. Including bond interest Prop A would saddle San Francisco property tax payers with over a billion dollars in new taxes. Despite this, Prop A fails to address either San Francisco's increasing population and employment or its most pressing transportation problems.
BATWG pledges itself to work with the Region's transportation agencies, and with like-minded good government, environmental, civic and neighborhood groups, in a continuing effort to improve the Region's non-automotive transportation systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect towns and cities from the adverse effects of traffic congestion.