Regional agency reaffirms support for $492-million BART connector to Oakland Airport

Feds still balking over concern that low-income people couldn't afford new system

A key regional transit agency voted 11-5 at a contentious three-hour hearing Wednesday to reaffirm its support for using $70 million in federal stimulus funds to help BART build an elevated rail connector between its Coliseum station and the Oakland International Airport.

However, the support of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission depends on whether BART can address the Federal Transit Administration's concerns about whether the 3.2-mile-long connector would have a discriminatory impact on minorities and low-income people.

The approval at Wednesday's meeting, which was attended by about 300 people and included two hours of public comment, is contingent on BART submitting an action plan to the FTA by next week to correct any so-called "equity" deficiencies and for the FTA to approve that plan by Feb. 16.

The MTC will meet on the issue on Feb. 17 to see if the airport connector project is still on track.

If it isn't, the MTC will re-direct the $70 million in stimulus funds to rehabilitation and preventive maintenance projects for various Bay Area transit agencies.

BART's airport connector project, which is projected to cost $492 million, has been discussed for more than 20 years and has been approved by BART's board of directors, the Oakland City Council, the Port of Oakland's board and other agencies.

The MTC initially approved allocating $70 million in stimulus funding for the project last year but took a second look Wednesday in the wake of a letter by FTA administrator Peter Rogoff alleging that BART has failed to analyze whether the project will have a discriminatory effect on minority and low-income communities.

Rogoff said BART must meet its concerns by March 5 or the Bay Area will lose the $70 million in stimulus money.

One of Rogoff's concerns is whether low-income people could afford to ride on the airport connector.

BART hasn't set a fare yet but it's been estimated that it could cost $6 for a one-way trip.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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Like this comment
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:14 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

The average air fare is around $500. Add another hundred if you take a bag. What the heck is the worry over a $6 BART fare? Are they thinking low income people could use it for entertainment?

Like this comment
Posted by Qwerty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

Why are we spending that money for a direct connection between BART and the airport? What's wrong with the current system where you take BART plus a bus? Perhaps it not as convenient as the SFO BART stop, but is it really worth a nearly 1/2 billion dollar price tag?

How long are they projecting before the fare increase would pay off the project?

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Posted by mannyman
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 30, 2010 at 4:45 pm

mannyman is a registered user.

Were there any projections on the number of people who would use the service? How many currently use the bus service? I currently do not use the bus service and would be more inclined to use the train service, but are there not better things we could spend money on?

According to the BART website from the 8/29/09 proposal - the cost is going to be between, $600M and $850 mill. It looks like the $492 million is just for the construction, not the vehicles ($100- $150 million) and fixed facilities and guideways ($200 - $300 million). I wouldn't doubt that by the time this is done its approaching $1 billion. But it is a great project because the federal government is giving us $70 million. It would be a great project if it were $700 million the feds were handing over.

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