Vote Yes on Measures RR and C1: the BART Bond and the AC Transit Parcel Tax

We think both measures are good investments for the East Bay.


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Modern urban metropolises like the Bay Area require efficient and highly functional mass transit systems. That’s especially true in this era of climate change, when we need to get as many people out of their cars as possible.

Five decades ago, East Bay residents exhibited great foresight when they voted to approve the creation of BART. And we think they would be smart and forward thinking to approve Measure RR, a $3.5 billion bond measure on the Nov. 8 ballot that will allow the transit agency to repair and upgrade its aging infrastructure. The bond funds, which are dedicated for capital improvements and not day-to-day operations, would allow BART to replace 90 miles of rails, repair tunnels, fix elevators and escalators, add train cars, and modernize outdated electrical systems.

BART is an integral part of the Bay Area’s economy and life, and it’s an essential mode of transportation for a huge number of people. Daily ridership is now at about 430,000, and it’s expected to top three-quarters of a million by 2040.

It’s also economically efficient compared to other U.S. metro systems. According to the U.S. National Transit Database, BART has the highest farebox recovery ratio—65 percent—in the nation. Farebox recovery is a key benchmark that measures a transit agency’s efficiency—whether it pays for itself or requires public subsidies to survive. BART’s farebox recovery ratio shows that for every $1 it spends on daily operations, 65 cents comes from fares paid by its customers—rather than from tax revenues. The second most economically efficient rail system in the U.S. is the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, New York, which has a 55 percent farebox recovery ratio.

But BART is being loved to death. Overcrowded trains and system delays have become daily problems. And it desperately needs more money in order to operate more effectively and increase capacity. Measure RR will allow it to do so.

For many of the same reasons, we endorse Measure C1—the continuation of an existing parcel tax that generates $30 million a year for AC Transit’s daily operations. AC Transit is not as economically efficient as BART (its farebox recovery ratio is just 20 percent), but bus systems typically require larger public subsidies because they provide basic transportation for low- and moderate-income people.

Measure C1 will allow AC Transit, the East Bay’s main bus system, to continue maintain low fares for seniors, youth, and people with disabilities. It also will allow the agency to keep up its fleet.

 

Published Oct. 20, 2016 at 3:26 p.m.

Our endorsements are unanimous selections of the editorial board. If we do not make an endorsement, it means that we could not reach unanimity.

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