The former vice mayor of Fremont, California, and urban planner wants to improve the Bay Area’s transport system
Anu Natarajan, a former vice mayor of Fremont, California, who took a break of more than five years from city politics, is now running for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), board of directors in the upcoming November 6 general election.
The filing period for BART policymaking BoD opens Monday, July 16, for the four of the nine seats up for election – all representing geographic districts in the BART District, which includes Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.
Natarajan is running for BART District 6, which includes Fremont, Hayward, Newark, Union City and part of unincorporated Alameda County.
Operated by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, BART is one of the nation’s major public transportation systems and serves the San Francisco Bay Area in California.
According to Wikipedia, it is the fifth-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States, and the average daily ridership on weekdays is 423,395.
Natarajan, a legislative affairs manager at Stopwaste.org, is an experienced city planner and architect, having served as council member and vice mayor of Fremont for over a decade. She ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2012.
Born in India, Natarajan earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Bangalore University and a master’s degree in urban design and planning from the University of Washington. Her professional experience includes working as an architect, public agency planner, and as an urban planning consultant to cities throughout the Bay Area.
Natarajan told indica, “After years of commuting daily on BART, I know first-hand the impact train delays, fare increases, and dirty, deteriorated stations have on our lives.”
She said that for decades BART has focused on infrastructure, expanding its network to San Jose and Antioch, and that it was time to focus on the consumer experience. Natarajan has herself worked on the BART extension to Warm Springs.
“We need to improve the system for commuters, to make it seamless and easy, and help reduce traffic congestion. I bring significant public policy experience to improve and grow BART’s infrastructure and use,” she said.
According to a biography of her released at the time she was running for city council in 2010, “She worked with leaders to create shovel-ready projects that helped get millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding to Fremont businesses and neighborhoods. During her tenure on the Fremont City Council, Fremont has laid the foundation to become a major hub of green technology, attracting businesses such as Solyndra and Solaria.”
While Solaria, an established company headed now by entrepreneur Suvi Sharma is doing well, Solyndra went under spectacularly after raising $ 1 billion in funds when it misled the Department f Energy in an application for a $535 million guarantee.
Now, Natarajan says,“I want to work to improve system reliability so commuters have a safe, clean transit system we can rely on. I also want to work with cities in the region to focus on better planning – to integrate land use and transportation in a more cohesive manner.”