BART's plan to build an elevated rail connector between its Coliseum station and the Oakland International Airport has a discriminatory impact on minorities and low-income people, civil rights and transportation equity advocates alleged Tuesday.
The Rev. Scott Denman of the Genesis Interfaith Regional Project, an Oakland-based faith and values group, said BART's $522 million plan to build the 3.2-mile long connector and charge up to $6 for a one-way trip "is Robin Hood in reverse."
In a conference call with reporters, Denman said Bay Area transportation officials are planning to use $70 million in federal stimulus funding for BART's airport connector project "to help those who can afford airplane tickets" instead of using the money to help fund bus service that would help low-income people get to jobs and medical appointments.
BART directors, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and other local and federal agencies have approved the airport connector, which has been discussed for more than 20 years.
But the Federal Transit Administration threw a monkey wrench into their plans last week by threatening to withhold the $70 million in stimulus funds because BART has failed to analyze whether the project will have a discriminatory effect on minority and low-income communities.
BART has until March 5 to evaluate and address the FTA's concerns.
The MTC, which directs transit funding for the Bay Area, is scheduled to decide today whether to re-affirm its support for the $70 million in federal funding or whether the money should be re-directed for other transit projects.
BART spokesman Linton Johnson strongly disputed the assertion that the airport connector project will have a discriminatory impact on minorities and low-income people.
He said the project's language requires that 25 percent of the construction jobs be given to Oakland residents and said the project also calls for a job training program for low income and minority workers so they can be qualified for future construction jobs as well.