Transit leaders descend on San Francisco

Transportation leaders from all over the nation and Bay Area discussed pressing issues like long-term funding for transportation projects at this week’s annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association in San Francisco.

Industry transportation companies and transit agencies also got a chance to explore some of The City’s own current transit projects like the Central Subway, a bike tour of the Better Market Street plan, and a tour of the Transportation Management Center, led by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which is hosting the event this year.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin gave a brief history on public transportation in the Bay Area from the first cable car in San Francisco, to the creation of the Municipal Railway in 1912, to the push for BART in the 1960s in his opening remarks on Monday:

“It’s truly a rich history that brings us to today where were working to redesign our streets to give transit more priority and preference and to make our streets safer for all road users in advancing Vision Zero, which is the city’s goal to eliminate traffic fatalities.”

Reiskin said he hopes to see other transit industries adopt the Vision Zero goal:

“I would encourage the entire transit industry to consider adopting Vision Zero. I think it would be a pretty powerful statement if transit leaders and APTA from across the country make a statement that we will longer accept that people have to die as part of the course of primary transportation systems.”

Transit leaders also called on the industry to keep fighting for transportation funding from Congress. APTA’s 2014-2015 chairman Phillip A. Washington said:

“I’m asking you one more time to ‘Stand Up 4 Transportation.’ Pull out all the stops. Drive our message home. The nation needs a long-term transportation bill and we need it now.”

Washington referred to the national Stand Up 4 Transportation day, where transit agencies nationwide held media events to call for the need of a longer transportation funding plan from Congress.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx spoke to the media at the APTA event, acknowledging the work done by APTA members in delivering transit service for riders who really need it:

“That work is going to become important because increasingly, we’re finding the limitations of our ability to expand lane miles, hitting us hard in urban areas.”

Foxx said that the transportation systems will become more important due to a lack of a long-term transportation bill:

“We have a growing population. We have growing pressures on our infrastructures. All of us have to up our game.”