News

BART board takes another look at Oakland Airport connector

$484-million project would build elevated rail system from Coliseum station

BART directors Thursday approved spending more of the transit agency's own money to finance the Oakland Airport Connector project after federal stimulus funds were taken away earlier this year following a civil rights complaint.

The BART board approved the new financing plan for the $484 million project, which would build an elevated rail system between the Coliseum station and Oakland International Airport.

In February, the Federal Transit Administration denied BART $70 million in federal stimulus money to fund the project after three advocate groups filed a complaint alleging that the agency failed to evaluate whether the project would provide low-income and minority communities with a fair share of the project's benefits.

BART is filling the $70 million gap through loans, more state funds, and money from one of the agency's reserve funds. BART is on the hook for about $55 million of that missing $70 million, board vice president Bob Franklin said.

BART board president James Fang acknowledged that "there's a big financial risk for BART. It's kind of an unprecedented thing."

However, Fang and most of the other directors argued that the number of jobs it would create and the congestion relief it would provide on the highways and roads headed to the airport were enough of a reason to vote for it.

The board Thursday voted 8-1 in favor of the new financing plan, and gave conditional approval to awarding contracts for the construction and operation of the airport connector, depending on loans and other money from state and federal agencies that have not been given final approval.

Tom Radulovich was the lone director to vote against the plan. Radulovich said "there's not a lot of new money here," and that the majority of the new funding is in loans that have to eventually be repaid.

"Debts aren't free money, and the people who are going to pay it are you," he said, pointing to the audience, "who will be paying with higher fares, and receiving worse service."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Ajay
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jul 23, 2010 at 11:15 am

Oakland airport is not very busy these days. There is not too much traffic on the road going to the airport. It costs a lot to build BART
tracks. It may be a better to have more frequent shuttles between the airport and BART. I know there is a shuttle at the moment but it can be improved and subsidized to encourage more passengers to take BART.
Further there should be arrangements at BART stations to be able to park your car for more then a few days.


Like this comment
Posted by jp
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I've taken the shuttle "known as AirBART" twice in the past month and found it to be just as convenient (or more) as waiting for a typical BART train. In fact both times the shuttle was waiting at the airport when I came out from baggage claim and it was just a short ride to the station. There were only a few people on it each time. I'm not sure if the rail version would be successful enough to justify the costs but as long as they aren't using tax money then I don't really care. Air Bart only costs $3 now. If they charge too much for the actual train the a cab becomes an attractive option for the short ride especially if you have a few people in your traveling party.


Like this comment
Posted by Wordpress Themes
a resident of Ridgeview Commons
on Aug 2, 2010 at 4:12 am

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