Roy Nakadegawa, a longtime San Francisco Bay Area transit advocate and board member for both AC Transit and BART, has passed away. I remember him a soft-spoken but effective advocate who was able, as a professional engineer, to dig into details when they mattered.
I also remember him as someone who really understood transit networks, and considered them more important than transit technologies. You can get a taste of that from this 2008 kerfuffle (concerning a debate that I am agnostic on, personally).
From the joint AC Transit / BART press release:
Former AC Transit and BART director Roy Nakadegawa passed away last Friday morning, August 23, 2013, at his home in Berkeley. Mr. Nakadegawa had been suffering from congestive heart failure for some time.
Mr. Nakadegawa served on the AC Transit Board for 20 years, from 1972 to 1992. He then served on the BART Board for 12 years from 1992 to 2004. After he left the BART Board, he joined the Board of TRANSDEF (Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund), a non-profit environmental organization created by transit activists to advocate for better solutions to transportation, land use and air quality problems in the San Francisco Bay Area. In all those positions he argued for cost-effective, mobility improving transit.
Mr. Nakadegawa was an active attendee and participant in TRB (Transportation Research Board) meetings and was well known and respected around the world for his depth of knowledge about transit and its relation to land use. He was written up in the local press for the frugality of his travel arrangements. When Mr. Nakadegawa served on the AC Transit Board of Directors, its members got an annuity when they left the Board. For many years, Mr. Nakadegawa generously donated his annuity payments to buy prizes for AC Transit's local bus rodeo winners.
As a BART Director he consistently advocated for cost effective transit administration, which spilled over into his own campaigns. In his re-election materials for BART Director he was proud to point out that in November 2000, he garnered the highest vote (over 91,000 voters) of five previous BART races and spent less than a penny per vote. Mr. Nakadegawa tirelessly urged his fellow board members to consider innovative uses of BART facilities as a non-traditional source of revenue and improved customer access, resulting in the adoption of both permanent and experimental parking program initiatives.
He will also be remembered for his role in advocating BART’s Earthquake Safety Program. He helped to raise public awareness of this critical program, resulting in the successful 2004 passage of a bond measure to fund it.
Professionally, Mr. Nakadegawa had been a transportation engineer for the City of Richmond and for many years served on the Board that administers the civil engineering exam in California. His career as a public sector engineer reached a pinnacle in 1989 when he was elected National President of the Institute for Transportation of American Public Works Association and later served as its liaison to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the national transportation advocacy group. While with BART Mr. Nakadegawa became an active member of APTA, serving on several committees including its Policy and Planning; Advanced Technology, Governing Board; and Transit Management and Performance committees.
Mr. Nakadegawa and his wife Judy were the quintessential Berkeley couple, dedicated to peace, family, public service and folk dancing.
Cards and letters should be sent to: Judy Nakadegawa and family, 751 The Alameda, Berkeley, California 94707-1930.