Trigger Warning: This is a Semi-Political Post, which may feature opinions that may be upsetting to some readers. If you do not wish to read such a post, please go elsewhere, and come back later!
In an election year it is expected that people running for office will do silly things to get noticed. Some might make grindhouse-style movie trailers for their campaigns, others might put out a funny press release, or send endless e-begging emails, and so on. Such incidents are worth a minor bump on the Twitter/Facebook/Imgur hyper-fast news cycle, but in the end don’t mean much. That is, unless they can be used to crash a billion-dollar bond for a regional transit system needed to keep things movie.
Earlier today one of the (many) people I follow on Twitter posted some silly nonsense about a “proposal” to build a new BART station at Mission/30th. This is an old idea, one studied over and over again, and the subject of late night twitter transit nerd marathons of What Might Have Been Or Be. That’s fine, and if someone running for office wants to have a late night “beer and transit plans” rap session about it, have at it.
No one would care, since there is not one dime allocated to this so-called “plan” and the idea that half a billion dollars would fall out of the sky for another subway station in San Francisco is insane. After billions in federal funds went to the (questionably managed) Central Subway project, this is about as likely to happen as an army of unicorn ponies pooping vegan gluten free treats to solve world hunger.
A few angry NIMBYs are caterwauling about mere bus transit lanes that had the nerve to speed up transit on Mission Street. Imagine the sound of NIMBY screams over messy subway station construction.
The problem is that such chatter has the effect of possibly damaging chances for the BART bond on the ballot this fall, which is needed to repair and maintain the system we already have. This bond requires a 66% majority YES vote to pass, not just in San Francisco, but all counties in BART’s jurisdiction.
It is unfortunate coverage has already suggested that the bond money could pay for this San Francisco fantasy. That’s impossible – any cursory reading of the bond clearly indicates that there’s not one dime for this press-release silliness, here in SF, or anywhere.
This is a time of Peak Nonsense nationally, and with a long list of ballot measures, local state and national elections for people to sift through, adding confusion that could endanger a regional transportation resource goes beyond campaign silliness and into “word salad with damaging consequences” territory. It should make people wonder why any elected officials who claim to be “friends of transit” would participate in it.
Candidates for local office would be wise to keep a lid on extreme silliness and instead address real needs local offices have Actual Jurisdiction over. That’s not as fun as making up plans for fantasy BART stations – but it’s also a lot less harmful.