Bay Area Region
BART given until February 16 to create civil rights action plan for Feds
Facing a triple-overflow crowd at the monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission commissioners followed MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger's council to "hedge their bet." A growing minority of the commission is concerned that they could lose $70 Million in federal stimulus funds if BART continues to railroad the expensive and exclusive "sky tram" to the airport without adequate consideration to the equity of their plan. By an 11-5 vote the MTC approved a set of resolutions that gives BART until February 16th--12 working days--to come up with an equity action plan to meet the demands of the Federal Transit Administration who recently found BART in violation of their obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. If BART can't meet the deadline, the money will be distributed to transit operators (BART, MUNI, AC Transit, VTA and others) for a broad variety of operations and maintence expenditures that will prevent layoffs and service cutbacks across the region.
With the civil rights imbroglio between BART and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) making news last week, a problem that could imperil $70 million in federal stimulus funds obligated to the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), advocates are calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to give the stimulus money to cash-strapped transit operators or face the possibility of losing it altogether. The FTA has given BART until March 5th to prepare an action plan to meet Civil Rights Act Title VI requirements to analyze the impacts the OAC fares will have on minority and low-income riders, something BART has so far failed to do.
The Oakland Airport Connector project received a rather rude wake-up call from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in a letter dated January 15th where both BART and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) were advised that funding was in jeopardy. The FTA had received a complaint filed by Public Advocates, Inc. on behalf of Urban Habitat, TransForm and Genesis that the OAC project was not compliant with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
BART officials will be working over the next six weeks to address civil rights issues raised about its Oakland Airport Connector project by the Federal Transit Administration, which could withhold stimulus funds for the project if the agency does not take corrective action.
Officials from BART and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission were sent letters Friday from the FTA about the $522 million project to build a 3.2-mile-long rail connector between the Coliseum station and the Oakland International Airport.
BART's long-planned rail extension to Oakland International Airport is in jeopardy because a federal agency has threatened to block a $70 million economic stimulus grant over concerns the project may discriminate against the poor and minorities.
In a move that stunned BART officials, the Federal Transit Administration late Friday warned it would give away the $70 million to other projects unless BART prepares an adequate analysis by March 5 on how the project would affect low-income and minority residents.
The Bay Area may be headed down a longer, bumpier road in its journey from recession to recovery if public transit continues to carry fewer commuters.
As the region attempts to push toward economic recovery in 2010, transit agencies expect to be moving in the opposite direction, stuck offering service levels and fares established during the downturn - or worse.
Sacramento County supervisors earlier this month agreed to give bidding preferences to county firms supplying goods and services.
Elsewhere in the Central Valley, Stockton aims to shore up its construction sector with a new ordinance requiring contractors on public projects to fill at least half their work force with locals.
Immediately after parking, the Council heard the Oakland Airport Connector. In spite of the Chronicle reporting that the City Council was leaning toward opposing the Connector, the Council did not ultimately adopt the resolution proposed jointly by Kaplan and Nadel. (That was the resolution that would have opposed the Connector, while supporting a more cost-effective bus alternative that would have allowed ARRA federal stimulus funds to be distributed to Bay Area transit agencies.)
Rains’ brief argues that Oakland jurors will not be fair and impartial throughout the criminal trial given the influence of corporate and independent media coverage of the criminal trial, as well as the threat and influence of what Rains’ suggests are “enraged” Oakland resident protests directed at the issue of police brutality and the unjust murder of poor, Oakland residents. We the people reject any attempt by Rains’ to mischaracterize the moral conscience of informed and democratically engaged Oakland residents who want a safer and healthier city in which all peoples can be free of unjust trauma, violence, and dehumanization by law enforcement.
OAKLAND — Oakland's City Council decided to support to BART's plans to build a rail connector between the Coliseum station and the Oakland International Airport early Wednesday — but only provided certain conditions are met.
A vote in support of BART's plans came at about 1 a.m. after nearly three hours of public comment and debate on the connector, which supporters see as a signature infrastructure project for the East Bay, but that critics call a money-wasting boondoggle.