By Tim Hunt
The valley needs strong leadership on BART boardUploaded: Oct 17, 2017
Livermore Valley political leaders are facing a crucial period dealing with the BART board and plans to extend service to Livermore.
That’s in addition to BART’s refusal to accept $20 million in state funding obtained by Assemblywoman Catharine Baker to build a long-promised second parking garage at the Dublin-Pleasanton station.
Taking them one at a time.
BART has been circulating the draft environmental impact report that lists several options for extensions to Livermore ranging from the traditional BART service, to self-propelled light rails or express buses. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who has been working on transportation issues throughout his more than 20-year tenure on the board, drafted a letter that urged BART to work with the new joint powers agency to identify and potentially build a connection between BART and the ACE trains. That’s the key to providing options for commuters.
That only happens efficiently if BART goes all the way to Greenville, not to a terminal station at Isabel Avenue. The bill creating the association, co-authored by Assemblywomen Baker and Susan Eggman of Stockton, was signed by the governor last week. The bill was watered down significantly from its original version to build bi-partisan support and limit opposition. Despite BART’s opposition, it passed without opposition in both houses.
To accommodate BART tracks in the median would require shifting I-580 north into Dublin, an impact that will be a cost of the extension.
Meanwhile Livermore objected because the plan only extends the tracks to Isabel and would include a service yard—an addition that Livermore council members believe would mean an end to the Greenville extension.
BART owns land in both locations because former director Erlene DeMarcus, who was the driving force in the first extension into the valley, worked effectively on the BART board and convinced them to purchase the parcels.
That brings us to the new parking structure at the Dublin/Pleasanton station. Dublin Vice Mayor Don Biddle wrote an opinion piece in the East Bay Times pointing out that five members of the BART board refused to accept the state money for a second parking structure that has been planned for more than a decade. Instead, the majority opted for more study that included restriping the parking lots and a screwy car elevator system. As Biddle wrote, the striping should have already been done given that the parking is full by around 7 a.m. most mornings.
The second parking structure was a key part of the transit village plan that Dublin approved years ago. As Pleasanton officials have pointed out, the transit village on the BART lot was the basis for the high-density, transit-oriented projects that they approved across the street from the station.
The core problem is simple: the valley’s director, John McPartland, is ineffective. He cannot get his fellow directors to accept a free $20 million from the state nor is he likely to convince a majority that the agency needs to connect BART with ACE. BART opposed the joint powers bill.
It’s no secret that when the valley has been represented by an effective director, good things have happened. DeMarcus got lots done during her one-term tenure, while Dublin’s original mayor, Pete Snyder, was the driving force in getting the West Dublin station built.
McPartland says the right things, but has delivered nothing. The valley needs and deserves an effective BART director. Our valley is at the end of the line, far from San Francisco and the inner East Bay.
Making directors from those areas aware of the critical importance of the valley as the gateway to both the Oakland/San Francisco area and the South Bay as well as the key corridor for the Port of Oakland may adjust some thinking and change some votes.