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Lawrence Dahms Executive Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Speaker: Lawrence Dahms, Executive Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Lawrence Dahms is Executive Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) serving the San Franscisco Bay Area. The Commission membership, authority and scope were first established by the California State Legislature in 1970. Pursuant to federal law MTC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and designated recipient for federal transit funds. MTC is cinsidered a model for U.S. MPO's in the country.

The Commission Scope has been expanded recently to become the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), having responsibility for the budgets and improvement of seven transbay toll bridges. MTC functions extend as well to an array of direct operations dealing with pavement and incident management, traveler information and transit fare collection.

Mr. Dahms is active nationally, currently serving as chairman of the Board of the ENO Transportation Foundation Inc. and a member of the Board of ITS America. He graduated in Civil Engineering from San Diego State University and holds an MBA from Sacramento State University.


Presentation Outline

  • 1991- The end of the Interstate Era - Few teras were shed in San Franscisco and many other cities in the nation when ISTEA was passed by Congress closing out the Interstate era and ushering in a revised approach to financing and delivering transportation projects. Having connected all of America with a wide ribbon of concrete it seemed time to address a craving for better mobility within the cities themselves. But how?

  • Post Interstate - The Federal Highway Administration and the 50 States grew together to provide a solid institutional structure required to deliver the Interstate. The unyielding standards they promulgated served the system well in providing a consistent ride through the countryside, but sometimes created havoc within the city. Few States assumed leadership for providing metropolitan mobility.

  • ISTEA - An institutional void was at least implicitly recognized by Congress in ISTEA where a shotgun marriage of states and newly elevated metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) was defined. In seven years experience since then this fragile set of partnership has produced mixed results, at best.

  • MTC as MPO - The MTC is the MPO for the San Franscisco Bay Area. MTC was in a better position to take advantage of the provisions of ISTEA than most other MPOs for several reasons. Even so, our task is challenging. Our partners include several federal and state agencies, 100 cities, nine counties, 25 transit operators, three airports and more... As in New York and other metros, we operate in a governmental environment where the buck stops everywhere. The rest of this story is about how to improve metro mobility with the tools at hand.