The list of positive attributes and amenities that we San Franciscans enjoy as residents is boundless. In fact, English writer Rudyard Kipling is quoted as having said, “San Francisco has only one drawback — 'tis hard to leave.” While we all would likely agree that the short-story innovator wasn't far off the mark, I suspect we would also agree that, if Kipling were alive today, he would add San Francisco's dilapidated, 102-year-old transportation system to that drawback list.
One only needs to take a drive down a pothole-laden public thoroughfare, take a crowded Muni bus or train, ride a bike, or simply walk through our city streets to experience first-hand the erosion of San Francisco's transportation system after decades of underinvestment.
To address this critical infrastructure imperative, Mayor Ed Lee convened the Transportation 2030 Committee, of which the Chamber of Commerce was an active participant. The result was a 10-year city capital investment program, which is proposed to be funded in partnership with federal, state and local agencies. On Nov. 4, San Franciscans will be asked to consider its first transportation bond in more than 60 years, Proposition A — a $500 million bond that will begin the investment in needed improvements to San Francisco's transit and transportation as part of The City's long-range capital plan. These bonds will be paid for without raising the property-tax rate.
Prop. A would fund transit system nonrolling stock, bikeways, pedestrian and traffic signal upgrades. Specifically, the allocation of bond proceeds would include $358 million for transit reliability, safety, improved maintenance facilities and key transit corridor improvements — projects that include priority traffic signals, accessibility improvements, Caltrain upgrades, new maintenance facilities and seismic improvements, and a transit-control system. The remaining $142 million would fund modern traffic signalization, bikeways, new sidewalk and crosswalks designs, including a continuation of the complete street rebuilding program.
The importance of transit and transportation upgrades to the safety and quality of life in The City cannot be overstated. With San Francisco's population nearing 850,000 — a figure expected to reach 1 million by 2040 — in addition to more than 16 million in annual visitors, Prop. A is the right investment, and its timing is long overdue.
The Chamber of Commerce applauds Mayor Lee's leadership and vision on this urgent issue, and we commend the Board of Supervisors for its unanimous agreement to send this matter to you, the voters.
We strongly endorse this local measure and urge all San Franciscans to vote yes on Prop. A.
Bob Linscheid is president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.