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Statement About the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System

September 27, 1972

THOUGH the Bay Area Rapid Transit system has been in operation only a matter of days, it already appears that the San Francisco Bay area may become as widely renowned in the future for the space-age efficiency of BART as it has been in the past for the romance of the cable car. I congratulate all the Bay Area communities that have taken part in this trailblazing achievement in modern metropolitan transportation. The people of this area are setting an example for the Nation.

The foresight, initiative, and constructive partnership demonstrated by the cities and counties which have joined in planning and building BART over the past two decades prove that workable new answers can be found for urban problems. Government support from the State and Federal levels, under administrations of both political parties, has also been important; so has private sector participation, particularly that of California's own industrial community, with contractors like the Rohr Corporation applying aerospace technology to the work of meeting human needs here on earth.

The Federal role in BART underscores the commitment I made in 1969 to treat public transportation as one of the chief domestic priorities of this Administration. Through 1972, Federal funds for BART have totaled $ 181 million--about 13 percent of overall costs. I am pleased to be able to announce today a further Federal capital grant of an additional $38.1 million to BART from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, to help complete the remaining 47 miles of the basic BART system.

Not only here in California but all across the Nation, the urban transportation picture is brightening as we move into the 1970's. Not only are some cities, such as Washington, following San Francisco in the installation of fixed rail systems, but others are meeting their transportation needs through innovations such as exclusive-use rights-of-way for buses.

I have sought to speed these developments by pushing for passage of the $10 billion Urban Mass Transportation Assistance Act of 1970 and by increasing the Federal budget for mass transit from the previous high of $ 175 million in one year to St billion this year. The better transportation balance which we are striving for is indicated by the fact that in fiscal year 1973, for the first time, Federal funds for urban mass transit will surpass spending on urban highways.

My general revenue sharing program, which I hope soon to sign into law, would further increase the ability of cities and States to deal with their own transportation problems in their own way. And one other piece of legislation now nearing passage would address this need even more specifically: the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1972, which recently passed the Senate and is now under consideration by the House.

I was most gratified--as were city officials across the country, and the millions of citizens they serve--when in passing this bill the Senate accepted my Administration's proposal that the Highway Trust Fund be opened up to permit urban areas to use monies from the fund for public transportation if they so choose. This provision would not in itself take a cent away from highway needs in fact, it scrupulously plays no favorites among the various alternative answers to urban transportation problems. What it would do is to give the people at the local level-the people who know best--a freer hand than they have had before in choosing that combination of answers which best suits their own particular needs.

I hope that this sensible provision, together with the Administration's proposal to provide funds directly to metropolitan transportation agencies for the first time, will remain in the bill which both Houses finally approve. Certain other features of the present Senate and House bills are much less desirable, but I hope that these can be eliminated, the strong features retained, and a sound bill sent to my desk for signature before the Congress adjourns.

Now that BART is demonstrating how pleasant and convenient movement within our urban centers can be, we should be less disposed than ever to be patient with how congested and difficult it all too often is. The speedy resolution of America's chronic and worsening traffic jams is far too urgent a matter to be stalled any longer by legislative or bureaucratic logjams, and I will continue my own determined efforts to keep it moving ahead.

Note: The statement was released at San Leandro, Calif.

The President and Mrs. Nixon boarded a BART train at the San Leandro Station and rode to the Lake Merritt Station where they visited the BART Control Center and met with employees.

On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet on BART.

Richard Nixon, Statement About the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255091

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