San Francisco at a Crossroads
It can be stressful to get around in San Francisco. Every day we endure potholed roadways, old and crowded Muni buses and trains, and disorderly streets that can leave us feeling vulnerable.
Our transportation system didn’t get like this overnight – it fell into disrepair after decades of underinvestment. For years the funds available federally and from the State of California have been insufficient to address San Francisco’s pressing infrastructure needs.
We need to invest in our roads, public transit network, walkways and bikeways to make them safer, more reliable and more efficient for all. San Franciscans cannot depend on the state or federal governments alone to invest in fixing the city’s problems now. To create better roads, improved transit and safer streets, we’ll need to invest in them using local funds.
Assessing the Need
In 2013, Mayor Ed Lee convened a Transportation Task Force to investigate what San Francisco needs to do to fix our transportation network and prepare it for the future. The Task Force was comprised of 45 community advocates and experts in finance and transportation. They thoroughly studied the city’s transportation problems and provided recommendations on how to fix them.
After a year of study, the Task Force found that to meet current need and future demand the City needs to invest $10 billion in transportation infrastructure through 2030. With $3.7 billion already identified, that left a $6.3 billion gap.
A Plan for Change
To fill the $6.3 billion gap and complete projects designed to make it safer and easier to get around, the City proposed a strategic infrastructure investment program for the November 2014 ballot and future years. At the core of the Transportation 2030 program is a series of local funding sources that, if approved by voters, would provide about $3 billion to complete critical transportation infrastructure projects by 2030.
To supplement the local investment, the City will pursue matching funds and grants from regional, state and federal sources, including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). MTC has committed to providing up to $550 million in matching funds if the revenue measures pass.
The funds go toward street repaving, new Muni buses and trains, transit route and stop upgrades, pedestrian safety enhancements, well-defined bikeways and other improvements. The projects are prioritized and selected in a process driven by community engagement and accountability, with public participation every step of the way.
Stepping in the Right Direction
In 2014, San Francisco voters passed two funding measures that will improve public transit and build safer streets in neighborhoods citywide. Proposition A, the Transportation and Road Improvement Bond, will invest $500 million to complete a range of projects that will reduce Muni travel times, make Muni less crowded and more reliable, and enhance safety on San Francisco’s streets.
Proposition B requires the City to adjust funding for transportation each year based on population growth. With these funds, we are purchasing Muni vehicles and completing street safety projects. In the future new revenue sources could replace the population-based funds to ensure a stable, long-term commitment to improving and maintaining the local transportation network.
In 2011, San Franciscans voted to pass the Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond, a $248 million investment in safer and smoother streets citywide. Since then, we have successfully repaved more than 20 percent of city blocks in neighborhoods throughout San Francisco – and road conditions have improved steadily for the first time in decades.
While the 2011 and 2014 initiatives make a significant impact on our transportation network, they are not enough to thoroughly address San Francisco’s transportation needs. Funds from the 2011 and 2014 bonds will run out. Although the population-based funds increase investment in transportation, they do not generate enough money to cover the whole need.
The City needs stable, long-term funding sources to build on these successes and keep the momentum going for years to come and create better roads, improved transit and safer streets throughout San Francisco.