Prioritize Coast – SamTrans Status – Measure RR

Put the Coast on the Map for Transit

There are 60,000 people, 8% of the population of San Mateo County, who live along the coast from Pacifica to La Honda, and because we live on the other side of the San Andreas Fault we are an after-thought when it comes to planning and funding transportation initiatives in the county. We can get attention by participating in the conversation in the following ways:

  1. Provide input to SamTrans, email reimagine@samtrans.com  include your name and address with your suggestions.  One transit initiative that solves a problem almost always affects multiple interests enabling the power of ‘unity’ in our community. For example:
  • Seniors, Small Business: Shuttle from back of Linda Mar to Rockaway, Palmetto, Manor
  • Housing, Small Business: Shuttle from Fairmont (Marymount) to Manor, Palmetto, Rockaway, Linda Mar Beach
  • Commute Congestion, Schools, Climate Advocacy: Shuttle to Vallemar
  • Commute Congestion, Small Business, Realtors, Climate Advocacy: During commute hours and on hot weekends 2 of the 4 highway 1 lanes are under usually utilized, can they be used to speed up traffic in the direction of congestion?
  • Commute Congestion, Small Business, Realtors, Climate Advocacy: Shuttle from Half Moon Bay to Linda Mar to SF Transbay Terminal
  • Safe Streets, Small Business: Rockaway merchants exist on both sides of Highway one, crossing the highway on foot or bike can be treacherous.
  • And of course…better examples coming from you.
  1. Establish two-way communication. City Councils, Boards and Committees always wait for presentation by Transit Agencies. Cities almost never proactively reach out to Transit.

Pacifica City employees are held responsible for comprehensive ‘Bike and Ped’ planning, but not for bus, shuttle and roadway planning. Send requests to the Pacifica City Council and City Manager to augment transit agency communications by reallocating 10% of one City employee responsibility (or 5% of two), just 16 hours a month to:

  • Watch/skim monthly bus and highway Board meetings for topics relevant to the coast.
  • Establish contacts and speak with transit agency planners on a regular basis. 
  • Ask SamTrans planners to share coastside ‘Reimagine’ SamTrans input. SamTrans planners appear to have a special affinity for Pacifica, because of the geographic layout, bedroom community, FLX and proximity to San Francisco. SamTrans planners were excited about the prospect of using the recent Pacifica microtransit pilot learnings to discuss new microtransit shuttle initiatives.
  • Report on transit as ‘input’ to Pacifica Programs, Council, Planning and Program meeting agendas:  Sharp Park Development, Beach Boulevard, Library, Rockaway, etc. Ensure that transit is regular agenda item.
  • Subscribe to be notified of national, state and regional transit grant opportunities. Oftentimes qualification for grants require more than one  benefit. Relationships with planners would be helpful for identifying collaboration and symbiosis across the local transit spectrum when considering how to apply.

Get the San Mateo Coast on the map. ‘Seamless Bay Area’ is a good non-profit organization that includes a transportation vision map of the Bay Area that mistakenly shows Pacifica as the end of the line. Pacifica is the gateway to the coast that includes our sister cities through Half Moon Bay to La Honda.  If we are to be included in the conversation and ‘unified’ with our sister cities for transit planning, the coast should be on the map.  Help by sending a respectful email to info@seamlessbayarea.org,  ask that the map be enhanced to (1) extend the end of the line to Pescadero/La Honda, (2) Include a line from Half Moon Bay to the city of San Mateo.

Map image taken from seamlessbayarea.org website


Buses and Shuttles

SamTrans continues to operate Pacifica bus and shuttle routes during the pandemic as follows:

No Changes

  • 110 – Linda Mar / Daly City BART
  • 112 – Linda Mar / Serramonte / Colma BART

Reduced Service

  • 16 – Serrramonte / Terra Nova HS
  • 18 – EL Granada / HMB Main St (school days only)
  • FLX Pacifica – Linda Mar Loop

Suspended Service

  • 118 Express Linda Mar / Colma-DC BART – Suspended through December to help maintain 35% extra board. Extra board means there are backup drivers and standby buses in the event rider demand increases above standard demand.

SamTrans principles and priorities:

  • Ensure service is reliable by maintaining 35% extra board 
  • Supporting School Districts different reopening plans. Understanding the appetite for parents to put student riders on buses. Some schools may adopt a staggered schedule, including mid-day trips. Goal is to ensure service is very reliable and always available.

The SamTrans Board of Directors will vote on whether to approve 1 year pilot , starting January 1, 2021, participation in the Clipper START program where adults whose household incomes are no more than twice the federal poverty level can ride at 20%-50% of the adult single fare.  Caltrain, SF Muni, Golden Gate Transit and BART already participate. 

In the October 7, 2020 SamTrans Board meeting all Board members commented favorably for participation to assist low-income riders, especially in relation to the regressive taxes (e.g., Measure ‘A’ – 2004, Measure ‘W’ – 2018) placed on low-income residents. In the meeting Director Pine said, “All sales taxes are regressive, something for us to keep in mind.”  To share your thoughts on supporting SamTrans participation in the Clipper Start program and ideas about providing more funding, possibly directly to low-income riders, send email to publiccomment@samtrans.com with “Clipper START Agenda Item” in the subject line.


Caltrain Measure RR Clash of Progressive Priorities

The 2020 Regional Ballot Measure RR if passed will provide $100M yearly funding to Caltrain by levying a one-eighth cent sales tax in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties for 30 years. Sales taxes are regressive on low-income individuals and families, as incomes fall the tax rate rises. The same effect applies to businesses, small businesses pay a higher tax rate then large corporations.

Caltrain receives 70% funding from train fares. Caltrain ridership is down by 95% during the pandemic and estimates a $30 million to $70 million shortfall this fiscal year with severe budget issues into FY2022. Measure RR provides funding to get Caltrain through the pandemic and additional funding afterwards for future growth.

Due to its regressive posture a few progressive organizations do not support the Measure. Most SF Bay Area progressive organizations; however, do support RR, walking a tightrope of the less than perfect funding options in order to:

  • reduce the carbon footprint by financially supporting transit
  • provide better transit options for people who cannot drive or afford cars

An additional argument in favor: the new sales tax incurred is small, only $1.25 for every $1000 is goods purchased.

The argument against: San Mateo County merchants already pay, and pass on to consumers, 1.5% transit related of the total 9.25% sales tax is too much burden over the long haul (20-30 years).  That’s $92.50 for every $1000 of goods purchased. How much more do we eat into the regressive taxing of our most vulnerable citizens and small merchants?

Caltrain is participating in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission managed Clipper Start program by providing a 50% discount to low income riders as a mitigation approach for regressive taxes.  This is a tiny start. A better approach might be to use some of the approved sales tax funds to actually put transit money onto the clipper cards for low-income riders. This promotes inter-transit agency competition for low-income ridership, much like the approximately $65 per month Bay Area corporations add to their employees clipper cards enjoying reduced tax income benefits.

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