by Paul Kozakiewicz
Experts in various transportation modes came together at a Planning Association for the
Richmond (PAR) forum to discuss the future of transportation.
Richard Corriea, president of PAR, moderated the event. He asked the panelists to look
10 to 20 years in the future and to tell the audience what they foresee.
Most panelists saw a future with driverless vehicles all cruising in symphony with one
another, running faster and safer due to the omission of a human operator. Others saw a
future with more competition, but still relying on various modes of transport,
including bicycles and buses.
Today, people move from place to place by bicycle; skateboard; motorized vehicle; bus;
streetcar; train; taxi; ride-sharing services, like Lyft; private bus, limousine and
Ed Reiskin, operations director of the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), said
whatever mode of travel is used, it has to be as safe as possible for all users.
“We need to make the streets more forgiving of mistakes,” Reiskin said.
Panelists for the transportation forum included Reiskin; Carissa Bilinski, general
manager of Getaround.com; Justin Hu-Nguyen, outreach coordinator for Ford GoBike;
Bert Hill, director of the Golden Gate Bridge and Transportation District; Jeremy
Wallenberg, of Ground Floor Public Affairs, who was representing Lyft; SF Supervisor
Sandra Lee Fewer; and, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) director Bevan Dufty.
The ride-sharing company Uber was invited to participate, but was unresponsive,
according to Corriea.
“They were not interested in community engagement,” he said.
Dufty said he is working with Fewer to see if extending a BART line to the
Richmond makes sense. Because of possible climate change and rising oceans,
he does not envision it going to the beach, but perhaps to the mid-Richmond. He also
said the BART system is seeking a second tunnel under the bay to increase service.
Reiskin said city buses will have to become more desirable to compete with various
transportation choices in the future.
Wallenberg said Lyft is rolling out new services, including one where Lyft vehicles
will drive a prescribed route picking up and dropping off customers. He said
the new service will be available on Third Street, which would compete with the new
Muni streetcar line there. The service would be changed to autonomous vehicles
when they are available, which could be in the near future as politicians in
Washington D.C. are working on national standards.
Hill thinks there is a bright future for bicyclists, especially with new bicycles
having electric battery assist to help smooth out the hills.
There were about 50 people who attended the PAR forum, which was held at
the Richmond Recreation Center on Oct. 18.