Gridlock

at 11:43 PM

Have you tried driving across the Bay Bridge recently? Forget it! Leaving San Francisco in the afternoon is gridlock at the on-ramps. I guess that's what happens when you live in a boomtown. Unfortunately, we're stuck with 5 lanes across the bridge. Fortunately, we have other options.

You might have noticed how crowded BART is these days too. They recently added a few longer trains, but we need to think bigger. Go to London and watch how Piccadilly line trains arrive every two minutes. And they're building a new line called CrossRail. Whoosh - it goes right across. It's the same in Tokyo and Beijing. World-class cities have great and improving mass-transit. It's a public asset. It unlocks a city so that people who live there can actually flow around and take advantage of all the parks and restaurants and museums and neighborhoods.

City bike shares. Buses with their own lanes. New light rail lines.  When public transit is fast, frequent and affordable, people are delighted to use it... even car-loving Americans. 

In the Bay Area, we are doing most of this stuff. We're just not doing enough of it and so we're not getting ahead of the game. I'm sorry, but it's going to cost some public money. Bang for buck, investing in metro transit is one of the best things we can do for our economic competitiveness, and our quality of life. Wait 'til 2029 and you might be able to ride that bullet train to LA. Local transit is less sexy, but it's much more vital.

I'd love to explain more but I've got to run because there's a huge backup on 101. A truck full of wigs has overturned and police are combing the area.

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With a perspective, I'm Giles Goodhead.

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Giles Goodhead is a leadership adviser and writer based in Berkeley.

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