Transportation (News)

BART Board Reaffirms Commitment to Build Airport Connector

Submitted by News Desk on Wed, 10/13/2010 - 11:33am
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OAK_rendering1At a hastily scheduled board meeting today, BART’s directors once again voted to approve the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), this time granting General Manager Dorothy Dugger the flexibility to proceed with the contract, despite several outstanding sources of funding still unresolved.

BART needed to send strong signals to the contracting team of Parsons/Flatiron that the agency intended to move forward with the construction bid, which is set to expire on September 21st, one year after it was initially awarded. BART has been scrambling to fill a funding gap created when the Federal Transit Administration denied the agency $70 million in federal stimulus funds because it hadn’t done a proper civil rights review.

Eye-popping $102 tax subsidy for each new trip on slow airport tram

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 08/31/2010 - 12:52pm
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New study shows RapidBART with dedicated lanes is faster, one sixth the cost.  Transit Advocates call for MTC to base decision on new study - say upcoming vote to support $500 million in subsidies hurts transit riders and deepen deficits.

For Immediate Release: August 30, 2010
For More Information: TransForm's Stuart Cohen, 510-543-7419 or John Knox White, 510-277-2089

As Bay Area transit agencies get ready to vote on yet more funding for a $500 million tram between BART and the Oakland Airport parking lot, an updated study is showing it requires a $102 taxpayer subsidy for each new rider to go just 3 miles.   By comparison a stretch limo could pick up 8 people at their doorstep anywhere in the East Bay -- even Dublin or Livermore -- and take them straight to the terminal for just $99.  

Federal Civil Rights Review Raises Governance Questions at MTC

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 08/24/2010 - 3:50pm
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Train_won_t_stop_small.jpg

The long-term impacts to transportation funding as a result of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) civil rights compliance probe of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) won't be clear for some time, but the action by the federal administration has transportation policy circles buzzing. Experts in civil rights and regional planning policy couldn't point to another instance of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) like the MTC being required to submit to similar scrutiny from the FTA, while social justice advocates felt vindicated for their longstanding contention of discrimination in transportation funding. The FTA probe stemmed from a complaint by Public Advocates, a civil rights law firm in San Francisco, over BART's failure to properly analyze the equity impacts of its fare policy for the controversial Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) as required under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As a result of the complaint, the FTA denied BART $70 million in federal stimulus funds for the project. Because the MTC channels significant federal funds to BART and because it continually approved motions to send stimulus funds to an agency that ultimately failed its responsibility to comply with Title VI, the FTA turned its eye on MTC.

MTC Public Participation Plan Comment Letter

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 08/24/2010 - 2:25pm

The Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission's (MTC) draft Public Participation Plan will set the framework for major decisions that it will make over the next three years in planning for over $200 billion in transportation investments.  MTC is required by SB 375 to implement a Sustainable Communities Strategy, or SCS, that will integrate transportation and land-use planning in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

The Public Participation Plan will shape how well the SB 375 process will address the needs of the region's low-income communities and communities of color - communities at greatest risk from the impacts of climate change.  A just and equitable Public Participation Plan that actively empowers low-income communities of color in these important decisions would be an important step in moving the Bay Area toward greater inclusion.

MTC Failures Spark Review of Fairness Practices

Submitted by News Desk on Wed, 08/18/2010 - 4:38pm

New Civil Rights Investigation Probes Agency Role in Airport Connector Project
 
San Francisco, CA –The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has rejected claims by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that it is not responsible for civil rights compliance by Bay Area transit operators, and opened a new investigation into MTC’s civil rights practices. The probe comes just six months after FTA withdrew $70 million in federal stimulus funds from BART after finding it had not complied with a range of civil rights protections.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. As the Bay Area’s regional transportation agency, MTC distributes funds to area transit agencies. It must ensure, and formally certify, that transportation planning and funding decisions in the nine-county region meet all civil rights requirements.

Feds Investigate MTC for Civil Rights Violations

Submitted by News Desk on Wed, 08/18/2010 - 2:49pm

The civil rights violations committed by BART in its controversial Oakland airport connector project has prompted a new federal probe into the state agency that oversees BART — the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. In an August 12 letter to MTC, the Federal Transit Administration expressed concerns that MTC has failed to adequately monitor other Bay Area transit agencies, which might have committed civil rights violations, too.

BART board OK's airport connector despite financial concerns

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 08/03/2010 - 11:37am
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Anti-connector demonstrators before today's vote. Photo by  Casey 
 Miner.

After a marathon hearing today at which more than 20 people spoke, the BART board gave its final approval to the Oakland Airport Connector project, pending a guarantee of funds from the Port of Oakland. The project stalled earlier this year when it ran afoul of federal civil rights statues and lost $70 million in stimulus money, but roared back to life a month ago when BART found a way to fund the project without stimulus dollars.

Today's hearing offered little solace to those with persistent concerns about the project—namely, whether the job numbers are all they're cracked up to be and whether ridership on the new system will be high enough to justify the financial burden BART is assuming. Representatives of transit advocacy groups TransForm and Urban Habitat raised these issues repeatedly, and a number of BART board members seemed to share them: District 7 director Lynette Sweet said she was unsettled by the fact that BART had overstated the number of jobs the project would create; vice-president Bob Franklin catalogued at length the reasons he felt uncomfortable with the funding structure; and even board president James Fang expressed serious reservations about the agency's ability to pay for the project over the long term. "Long after this thing is over," he said, "BART will still be on the hook."

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