Federal funds in question for BART's proposed Coliseum connector

U.S. Transit Administration questions project's discriminatory effect on minorities, low-income communities

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.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Jan 27, 2010 at 8:48 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Everybody wants a piece of the action. Race-baiting and class envy seem to be the weapons of choice for these modern day extortionists.
More by-products of an entitlement society.
The require change here is a prescription of personal responsibility and a change in mindset to strive to achieve instead of being a drone looking for handouts.

Like this comment
Posted by GO
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 12:44 am

Readers and voters should recognize that the United States is lagging behind many first world and developing countries in terms of public transportation. The lack of a proper 20th Century public transport connection to a major international airport in the Bay Area, is well, embarrassing on a global scale at best. Don't believe it? Head to Beijing and take a 340km mag-lev from their airport, or relax on your way out of Singapore Airport on a modern (and sparkling clean) train leaving every 5 minutes for the city core. The list is long in Europe and Asia but short here in the greatest Country on Earth. Why you ask? This kind of B.S. to start. Discriminatory what-now? Special interest anyone?

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