Full question (edited for privacy): My family resides in Livermore and commute out of the area. I am unfortunately in the brunt of traffic commuting to San Jose.When possible, I take the ACE train to downtown San Jose where I then bike or Uber to work. I want to know what is your viewpoint on the expansion of BART to Livermore, as well as the expansion of ACE to Bart. I believe this issue is dead on the tracks, so-to-speak, because it was voted down by a high ranking politician or voting member.However, if and when the time ever permits itself to be brought up, I wholeheartedly want this issue to move forward as residents need more transportation opportunities available to relieve the traffic congestion. Expansion of ACE and BART is something I wholeheartedly approve. Again, where do you stand on this position?
My answer: The issue you bring up is one that I care deeply about for both personal reasons–I have family around the Bay Area and traffic makes it hard to connect–and because it affects every single person in Livermore, whether a commuter or not. Traffic on 580 affects commuters, but also the city streets, when people try to circumvent the freeway. So yes, let’s talk transportation, beginning with the BART question (appropriate on Halloween, since it’s very, very dead).
BART is never coming to Livermore. The BART Board–easily the most dysfunctional board I’ve ever seen–made two very significant decisions at a meeting in May, which I–along with half of Livermore–attended. First, they decided not to build us an unwanted bus system. This would have wasted Measure BB money, intended specifically for the BART to Livermore connection, on a system no one would have used. Second, they chose not to pursue ANY further attempt to build BART to Livermore. Or the way I put it: they divorced us. I fought hard to get BART to Isabel, but after witnessing that meeting, I feel like the results are just fine. We have the Measure BB money to the tune of 2/3 billion dollars and we are not subject to BART’s decisions–and their disregard for outlying regions.
So if not BART, then what? Currently Livermore is participating in developing a regional system that will link to BART and ACE at the western edge and to the Central Valley in the East. It’s called ValleyLink and you can read about it in more detail on the website. In particular, you can check the different member agencies participating and the board of directors. It will rely on existing tracks, connect to ACE and BART, and use light rail cars with a combination of diesel and electric power. Currently, the project has been approved for environmental review.
So that’s the short answer. But it’s important to keep the context in mind, as well, although an individual city council has only very limited effect there. The reasons for our poor transportation system are regional, connected to how we handle jobs, housing, and transportation as a region rather than as individual cities. So making regional alliances is important in managing transportation. That’s a tough one, frankly. The inner Bay Area is pretty dismissive of the outlying regions, which includes anywhere over the hills. Nevertheless, working on building those connections is vital.