November measure means better BART

Editorial Board

For constituents in the Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Francisco counties, November represents a turning point for our state.

While it also holds the significance and import of the presidential elections, many issues closer to home will also be decided. Measure RR, which stands for Rail Road,  is a $3.5 billion capital bond measure slated for the November ballot. RR is intended to provide Bay Area Rapid Transit with funds to help repair and update the over four decade old infrastructure that is coping with an ever increasing burden from new riders. With an almost 23% increase in ridership in the past five years — BART is being stretched beyond its capabilities. Recent efforts to combat these growing pains include the expansion of the Hayward maintenance facility and the arrival of the “Fleet of the Future,” BART’s new train cars. Despite the inconvenience of the BART strikes, they served to illustrate the crucial role of BART in moving commuters around the Bay Area. The morning rush has gotten so bad that BART is booting up a program to incentivize riders avoiding the rush hour commute by outright paying them — albeit small amounts.

However, in the wake of the BART strikes that paralyzed the Bay Area, some chafe at the idea of handing BART more money. Notably state Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), who first campaigned on a platform of banning BART strikes, and East Bay Times Columnist Daniel Borenstein. Senator Glazer has said that the current issues with BART are a result of “a collection of errors and poor leadership.” Also highlighted are allowances in the bill for BART to use up to $1.2 billion of the bond money for labor cost. Leading to higher wages for what some believe are already overly cushy contracts.

Yet, BART maintains a strong track record of funding infrastructure improvements and taking the long view on its investments. Indeed, as it is in their own financial interests to increase their capacity to match the burgeoning Bay Area population. Senator Glazers’ complaints amount to blaming students for having messy sports fields then denying them the money to buy gloves and trash bags to clean up. The solution to our ailing system of public transit is not to starve it, the solution is to give it what it needs to grow and flourish, the solution is to vote yes on Measure RR come November 8th.