This spring, SF State students took historic action to improve the affordability and accessibility of their education with an overwhelming yes vote on the Gator Pass. As a result, students will have free Muni and discounted BART rides beginning next year. This fall students must act again to protect their future, and their investment! On November 8, voters in San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties have the opportunity to support a safe and reliable BART. Measure RR will authorize $3.5 billion to pay for fundamental infrastructure upgrades that are badly needed after 44 years of BART operations. This funding will allow BART to replace over 90 miles of original rails, upgrade the 1960s train-control system, update electrical power systems, repair aging tunnels, replace unreliable elevators, and enhance existing stations.
Measure RR not only supports a safe and reliable BART — these planned investments will allow BART to significantly increase capacity. The updated train control system and power upgrades will permit BART to run faster and offer more frequent service, accommodating nearly 200,000 additional daily riders. This represents the single largest increase in public transit capacity in the history of the Bay Area — more than the current daily ridership for all of Muni Metro. As current riders know, this new capacity is essential to relieve crowding and accommodate all those students who will take advantage of the new Gator Pass.
Although some students rarely ride BART, we all benefit when BART works well. Measure RR’s fundamental infrastructure investments are vital for Muni riders and car commuters who depend on working roadways. More congested streets and highways are what we see when BART is unreliable, or when it can’t keep pace with regional growth. In fact, studies found that without BART, the Bay Area’s busiest highways would triple the amount of time cars spend waiting in traffic.
Measure RR’s investments will also expand upon BART’s environmental benefits. BART already has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile of any U.S. urban rail transit system. Measure RR upgrades to BART’s electrical infrastructure will allow more on-site solar power at BART stations and yards, supporting BART strategy for 100% renewables energy sources by 2025. In addition, BART capacity growth is among the most cost effective ways to take cars off the road, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our air quality. With its long history of environmental activism, the SF State community will value these benefits.
Working together on the Josefowitz for BART campaign, and on the Gator Pass initiative, we have seen that SF State students consistently have a clear vision of what will serve the campus community, and also what will serve students as the next generation of Bay Area leaders. We believe students will agree that Measure RR does both.
Without meaningful investment, declining reliability and capacity constraints will disrupt access to jobs and services, increase roadway congestion, and undermine our sustainability goals. On November 8, please support the future of our regional transit system. Vote yes on Measure RR, and tell your family and friends in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco Counties to do the same.
Nick Josefowitz represents District 8 on the BART Board, which includes the SF State Campus. Naeemah Charles is a SF State alumnus and Capitol Assembly Fellow in the California Assembly. Marcus Ismael is a SF State alumnus and Chief of Staff for California College Democrats.