On June 13 the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Directors was provided a stunningly brief review – just 70 seconds – of the proposed $100 billion “Faster Bay Area” transportation mega tax envisioned by a coalition of regional business groups. BART General Manager Grace Crunican read a prepared statement on the tax proposal during “Item 7. General Manager’s Report”, exactly six hours into the meeting, and provided no opportunity for discussion or questions by the Board members.
“The business community led by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council and SPUR are considering advancing a transformational transportation funding measure,” stated Crunican. “It would be a nine-county regional measure that could raise between $50 and $100 billion dollars over the next 40 years for voter consideration as early as 2020. The proponents are interested in big transformation projects to better connect jobs to housing through more seamless transit systems. They’ve begun to engage with the transit [General Managers], the Congestion Management Agencies, and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations throughout the Bay Area – there are more than [the Metropolitan Transportation Commission] when you look at the broader Bay Area. The largest transit agency GMs have begun initial conversation about a transformative, coordinating transit package could look like, and I wanted to make you aware that [Deputy General Manager Robert Powers] and I will be continuing to be on that team that puts together whatever might be looked at. Bob and staff will be returning to the Board for a discussion by the Board about the package and how it’s put together, and what the Board’s inputs are on that.”
Just as Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) General Manager Nuria Fernandez’s comments in support of the Mega Tax at the June 6 VTA Board of Directors meeting, Crunican reveals that the interest of the pro-tax business coalition is to develop an expenditure plan for the tax with as little public review as possible. Bay Area transit agency General Managers along with the CMAs and MTC’s own pro-highway bureaucrats would be the first to define what a “transformative, coordinating $100 billion transit package” should include. Neither Crunican nor Fernandez referred to Plan Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay Area’s official regional land use and transportation plan, nor stated whether the Mega Tax would focus on funding the projects the plan recommends.
Crunican is retiring July 6, and her most likely successor is BART Deputy General Manager Robert Powers.
The Alameda County Transportation Authority (ACTC) Board of Directors received a panel presentation in support of the $100 billion mega tax concept on May 30 at their annual retreat. The VTA Board of Directors also reviewed the Mega Tax proposal at its June 6 meeting.