Thursday, August 18, 2011

McGoldrick: Central Subway "Big Dig of the West"

In this morning's Chronicle, former District One Supervisor Jake McGoldrick publishes a devastating critique of the Central Subway project ("Stop Central Subway mistake in its tracks"). His op-ed, which relies on the analysis by last month's Grand Jury report, represents another welcome defection from the consensus of the city's political elite on this dumb project. So far BART director Tom Radulovich has been the only critic of the project among the city's elected officials:

This obvious boondoggle continues to roll on. Of greatest concern is the ever increasing cost of this project, now projected to be $176,000 per foot of construction for less than 2 miles of track. The estimate has ballooned from a projected $648 million (in November 2003) to $1.578 billion today. The project, already behind schedule, is slated to be completed by 2019. By that time the cost could triple and San Francisco taxpayers would be on the hook to make up the difference.

As McGoldrick and the Grand Jury point out, the project is poorly designed to connect with other systems even as it bypasses many potential passengers in the city's financial district. Like the awful California high-speed rail project, the Central Subway couldn't be built without federal money, but the feds will not pay for the inevitable cost overruns---or to operate the system after it's built. The city's taxpayers will pay for that.

Also like the high-speed rail project, the Central Subway project takes increasingly scarce transit money away from Muni, which, like public transit systems all over the country, is raising fares and cutting service.

C.W. Nevius writes about an "army of zombie candidates" in the mayoral campaign because of public financing: once a candidate accepts public financing, he/she can't drop out of the race without paying back the money. But the real scandal is that the candidates are intellectual zombies on the Central Subway and other important city issues. Mayor Lee is the head zombie, since he perfectly represents all the awful traffic and planning policies coming out of City Hall.

San Francisco, "The City That Knows How"---to do everything but think critically about public policy.

Odd that SF Streetsblog didn't include McGoldrick's op-ed in its Today's Headlines feature.

The American Public Transportation Association Report referred to in the NY Times story

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At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story is exclusive to the Chronicle's Thursday print edition and will not appear on until 3:00 AM on Friday, August 19.


At 11:08 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Rob, the op-ed isn't available on SFGate for non-subscribers until tomorrow. That is why it wasn't on Streetsblog's Headlines.

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the Chron's prog agenda at work.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's this guy's position?

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

He's never said a thing critical of the Central Subway project that I'm aware of. All of the present supervisors support the project like they do every other major city policy on transportation and development.

The Bay Guardian recently ran an editorial calling for "a real question time." But even the progressives on the BOS don't disagree with City Hall on important policies, which makes for a boring question time---and bad public policy.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Progs Progs Progs.

If only Rob was on the board, then we'd see real change and real ... wait, what would Rob do? All he does is bitch, but never offers alternatives or better ideas. Actually, he never offers ANY ideas.

Bitch Bitch Bitch.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

If I was on the board, I would vote, vote, vote against this project at every opportunity.

Why don't you at least try to make an informed comment on the issue?

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob - nobody likes this project. Preaching to the choir.

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muni needs to both improve its existing infrastructure and expand the Muni metro - e.g. light rail.
Frankly, one less line running through the congested market street subway will be a grand achievement for Muni. Moreover, the central subway will facilitate further expansion of the light rail to the Marina, Presidio, and to southern neighborhoods such as Potrero Hill and Silver/San Bruno avenue communities.

Let's rebuild what our misguided transit policy took away from us years ago.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Rocky's Pop said...

F-line extension would serve Marina for a fraction of the cost.

And expansion to southern neighborhoods? What are you smoking? The T line is already built out to the south. What you see is all you are going to get.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Rob - nobody likes this project. Preaching to the choir."

"Nobody"? Only Radulovich and McGoldrick have broken ranks on the dumb project. Still waiting for a single candidate---of more than a dozen---for mayor to do the same.

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody who reads this blog...

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the Big Dig is done in Boston and everyone is pretty happy with the results. So it cost a little more.

Big deal. relax.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Reynaldo Perez said...

Except that the Big Dig, despite its cost, is actually useful. This Subway saves you, what, 6 blocks walking?

At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Jack said...

So it's a "boondoggle" because it costs money? This project actually costs far less per foot than a lot of other subway projects in the US. Compare it to NYC's second avenue line, for instance.

The bottom line is, we need more fast, underground rail infrastructure in SF, and this project will provide it. It'a also a phase in a larger picture of rail expansion, including an expansion to North Beach and Fisherman's wharf, a line down Van Ness, and most importantly, a line down Geary, all of which the city has been planning for since the early 90's. It's not perfect, and it will cost a lot of money, oh my gosh! Scandal!

Furthermore, the project obviously must be a failure when a political token citizen group that knows nothing about building transit systems put out a scathing review, which was almost word-for-word what a certain local misinformed transit "activist" group has also been peddling for some time, despite the fact that many of the claims presented are complete falsities. Let's also start using arcane words like "boondoggle" to sound extra dismissive and shut down any dialog! Oh noes!

At 3:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"So it's a 'boondoggle' because it costs money?"

No. The problem is there's no proportional benefit to Muni and the city to justify the expense to city taxpayers, not to mention state and federal taxpayers. The offical cost to the city is supposedly $124 million, but that figure will almost certainly grow as the project proceeds.

This expense comes when Muni is chronically in the red, cutting service, raising fares, and short-changing its capital and maintenance budget. See the Grand Jury report for the details.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever crack that SFGate prog agenda?


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