Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Local Transit Agencies Say High-Speed Rail is Good For Economy

Representatives from several Bay Area transportation agencies said at a meeting in San Francisco today that they support California's high-speed rail project because it is in the best interest of the local economy.

The State Assembly Select Committee on Rail Transportation met in City Hall with representatives from transit agencies such as San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Rapid Transit. They explained the project, which would eventually travel from San Diego to Sacramento at 220 mph, would pump money into transit stations in the Bay Area.

One of the main focuses was on constructing the Transbay Terminal, a "Grand Central'' of San Francisco, that is supposed to be finished by 2014 and serve as a connector to all mass transit in the city.

Initial money would come straight from Proposition 1A, a $19.9 billion bond measure on the November ballot to fund the first construction phase of a high-speed rail system connecting the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station.

SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said the rail would thrive in a San Francisco because it would help boost the market with retail and more housing and also provides $65 million for the agency to make connections to the rail.

"Metro areas drive this economy,'' Ford said. "Are we providing the best service to our customers?"

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, sits on the committee and said the high-speed rail is the future of transit. Ma said accommodation for commuters starts with building the Transbay Terminal, because it would make the commute shorter and more pleasant.

University of California, Berkeley professor at the Institute of Transportation Studies Robert Cervero said BART is the "lifeblood of the economic flow between San Francisco and the East Bay.'' Cervero said the transit systems are necessary and the high-speed rail would help California become more globally competitive in the transit system world.

"By global standards, (California) is still an auto-driven environment,'' he said. "The Transbay Terminal would make the connection, with huge market and real estate abilities.''