Transportation (News)

BART backup plan revives airport tram

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 07/13/2010 - 4:54pm

Undaunted after losing millions of dollars in funding, BART is cobbling together a backup funding plan to build a link to Oakland’s airport.

BART staffers said they may be able to raise $70 million by tapping federal programs, additional county sales tax funds, more Port of Oakland contributions and more money from bridge tolls.

That would replace the $70 million yanked last February after federal transportation officials said BART failed to submit an adequate study of whether the airport connector project discriminated against poor residents.

BART staffers will present the backup funding plan to the BART board as early as July 22. Download attachment below.

BART Moves Ahead With OAC Connecter Despite Civil Rights Violations

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 06/29/2010 - 4:21pm

Even though BART is not in compliance with the Federal Transportation Administration's (FTA) Title VI civil rights regulations, the agency has sought funding from numerous local, regional, state and federal outlets to continue the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project, a three-mile elevated tramway that would connect the Oakland Airport with the Oakland Coliseum Station.

Internal documents obtained by Streetsblog and The Bay Citizen, which reported on the matter this morning) revealed an internal scramble by BART staff and an array of local and state transportation agencies to come up with money to replace the $70 million in stimulus funding the FTA denied BART because of its failure to demonstrate a suitable fare analysis for the OAC project.

Newsom: Not pro-transit

Submitted by News Desk on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 11:03am

Two rather damning reports have emerged in the last week about Mayor Gavin Newsom's role in Muni's budget woes.

First, a little context. Faced with a massive shortfall, the transit agency has proposed its most draconian service cuts in history, combined with still more fare hikes. SFMTA has insisted on making the cuts, at least temporarily, even after the agency received windfall money from the state.

The current budget battle comes after a hard-fought budget and painful fare hikes a year ago. More cuts and fare hikes lead to fewer riders, which lead to more cuts and fare hikes: TGL is not the only (though it is, ahem, the first) news source to refer to Muni's current route as a "death spiral." On the other hand, making transit better benefits everybody by reducing traffic and giving drivers more options.

During last year's debate over Muni's budget, many raised the point that transit riders were shouldering four times as much of city's shortfall in transportation funding as drivers. Which hardly seems fair since transit riders are generally poorer and drivers can always take the bus, whereas bus riders in many cases don't own cars. The Board of Supervisors finally okayed hits to Muni with the understanding that the transit agency would look seriously at raising parking prices to fix the budget in the future.

But in October, the mayor bailed. At that time, then-communications director Nathan Ballard told Streetsblog that "The Mayor thinks it's the wrong time to make these moves. Right now, with the economy where it is, the burden on ordinary people for city services is already stretched to the max." (By "ordinary people," Newsom evidently meant people rich enough to drive cars.)

Without real leadership, the already failing transit system will continue to fail. Slower buses cost more than faster buses. Emptier buses cost more than fuller buses. Somebody has to stop the death spiral, and Newsom is MIA.

Driving up the cost of housing

Submitted by News Desk on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 10:55am

GREEN CITY If you think living in the Bay Area is expensive, think about what it would be like if you didn't have access to public transportation. A new report by Chicago-based think tank Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) considers just that problem, offering a new way of understanding just what constitutes affordable housing.

The CNT report — dubbed the Housing and Transportation (H+T) Affordability Index ( [2]) — maps housing affordability for 337 metropolitan areas and provides before-and-after snapshots that show how affordability changes when transportation costs are taken into account.

MTA’s two-year budget shortfall projected at $23 million

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:50pm

The Municipal Transportation Agency’s once-cavernous deficit projection for the next two years continues to shrink with each new update to the drawn-out budget balancing process.

Thanks to some new adjustments, the MTA, which operates Muni, faces a two year projected shortfall of $23 million — drastically less than forecasts made a few months ago. The agency has been able to lessen its shortfall by proposing annual fare increases (starting in 2011), installing thousands of new parking meters, and cutting down on its work order repayments to other city agencies by $6.5 million.

The agency also been on the fortuitous end of two unexpected cash windfalls — one, a $17 million payment due to the failure of BART’s Oakland Airport Connector, the other a $67 million allocation as part of new state legislation.

The MTA’s Board of Directors, which will meet Tuesday, must approve a balanced budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year by May 1.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

Open Forum, Oakland Airport Connector - Urban Habitat vs. BART

Submitted by News Desk on Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:30pm
Oakland Airport connector ignored civil rights laws
By Juliet Ellis, Mahasin Abdul-Salaam

The Federal Transit Administration pulled $70 million in stimulus funds from BART's Oakland Airport Connector project last month based on our civil rights complaint, finding that BART ignored civil rights laws. Fortunately, the Bay Area didn't lose that funding - it was distributed among the region's ailing transit systems. But the transit administration's action makes it clear that public money must be spent fairly or agencies will be held accountable...

Complaint derailed funding for Oakland jobs
By George Holland, Ron Silva

The statistics are stunning: With a 65 percent minority population and an 18 percent unemployment rate, Oakland is near the top of the nation's jobless chart. So when the region looked for the most effective way to spend $70 million in federal stimulus money, the BART Oakland Airport Connector became its signature project.

In the short run, the connector would help revitalize Oakland's economy by providing thousands of jobs - many targeted to local hires. In the long run, the connector will elevate Oakland Airport's prestige by providing a world-class train-to-plane connection - a crown jewel in the East Bay's efforts to attract tourism and the corporations essential to its future economic vitality...


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