BART votes down Livermore extension; regional authority could take lead on project | News | |


BART votes down Livermore extension; regional authority could take lead on project

Livermore mayor calls BART decision ‘a lost opportunity for the region’

The BART Board of Directors narrowly voted against building a full BART extension to Livermore, but by also not selecting a preferred project alternative Thursday night, the board left the door open for the new Tri-Valley regional rail authority to take the lead on the proposed project.

BART directors voted 5-4 to defeat a motion favoring a $1.6 billion extension of conventional BART to a new station in the middle of Interstate 580 at Isabel Avenue, with the main opposition coming from board members representing BART core cities of San Francisco and Oakland.

Soon after in the meeting in Oakland, the board also voted against a proposal to instead extend BART service from Dublin-Pleasanton to Livermore via Express Bus or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), an option strongly opposed by many in the Tri-Valley.

The directors did vote to certify the final environmental impact report for BART to Livermore, but they decided against choosing a preferred project option — with light rail, enhanced bus and no project at all also on the table.

If the BART board takes no further action by July 1, the newly created Tri-Valley San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority would be given the right to select a preferred project option and produce a feasibility study to the public by July 2019.

“This was a lost opportunity for the region to create a viable rail transit connection and create desperately needed affordable housing,” Livermore Mayor John Marchand told the Weekly, referring also to his city’s proposed Isabel Neighborhood Plan.

“Tonight, BART demonstrated that they are incapable of building a five-mile extension,” Marchand said. “But now the Measure BB funds go to the AB758 regional rail authority will now move ahead to plan build a rail connection cheaper, faster and more efficiently without BART's 40% soft costs or $360 million maintenance yard.”

“Some BART directors said that BART along the freeway is too expensive at $1.6 billion but that it should go into the downtown Livermore (at a cost of $3.6 billion),” he added. “You can one of the arguments, but not both. They cannot claim to support an extension that costs $3.6 billion that has less housing and transit oriented development and then say that $1.6 billion with more housing is too expensive."

“It was disappointing that BART couldn’t get behind the decision that is clearly the best choice for our community and the entire megaregion,” Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) told the Weekly.

It was Baker’s Assembly Bill 758, later passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, that created the new regional rail authority to step in and possibly take over the Livermore extension if BART failed to act.

“Last night was evidence of why it was so necessary to pass AB 758,” Baker added. “I am glad that the AB 758 authority is going to be able to take the reins.”

The Tri-Valley came out in force to the meeting in Oakland to try to convince the BART board to support a conventional BART extension to Livermore.

“It was packed, standing-room-only. Plus they had a second room that was full,” said Pleasanton Vice Mayor Arne Olson, who attended the meeting with a bus-load of people organized by Innovation Tri-Valley. They were joined by other groups of Livermore residents.

The Tri-Valley’s preferred option would see conventional BART rail extended 5.5 miles down the center of I-580 from the eastern Dublin-Pleasanton station to a new station in the median just past the Isabel Avenue intersection.

It would also come with pedestrian bridges to connect riders to either side of the freeway, a new BART storage and maintenance facility northeast of Las Positas College and 3,412 new parking spots on the south side, as proposed by BART.

Freeway alignment would need to be shifted to fit the BART line and the new station, and significant public and private right-of-way would need to be purchased to make the project work.

All told, BART estimates design and construction of the traditional BART extension would come in at $1.635 billion.

That pricetag compared closely to costs for the light-rail options, diesel multiple unit (DMU) or electrical multiple unit (EMU), which are smaller, self-propelled cars with a diesel or electric engine. DMU and EMU construction was estimated at $1.6 billion and $1.67 billion, though ongoing operating costs would be less than full BART.

For some BART directors, the rail extension options proved too costly, but the Express Bus/BRT option (which would include direct transfers to Dublin-Pleasanton BART in the freeway median) was more attainable at $380 million.

But many Tri-Valley leaders and residents saw Express Bus as falling woefully short of the region’s ridership need.

Express Bus/BRT was projected to add 3,500 new riders per day, far less than full BART estimated at 11,900 new riders per day and 244,000 fewer vehicle miles traveled. The DMU/EMU would see 7,000 new BART riders and 140,600 fewer vehicle miles traveled, according to BART’s estimates.

“My sense is that (BART) board is really concerned about their financial situation. They just couldn’t take on another project that would cost $1.6 billion or $1.4 billion to do an extension out to Livermore,” Olson said.

The BART board heard from dozens of Tri-Valley residents and leaders who strongly supported full BART, and perhaps as strongly opposed any expanded bus alternative, according to Olson.

“The other point that came up that I don’t think got a lot of play was that there are quite a number of people who take BART from the core out to jobs in the Tri-Valley, counter-commute,” he added.

There were a few public speakers in favor of the bus option, citing examples they liked from Los Angeles and Europe, Olson said.

“People from the core of the operation that don’t want any new money spent on expansions and the view that the system is badly in need of maintenance and upgrades and ‘take care of what we got and we haven’t done that,’” Olson added.

In the end, the BART board voted 5-4 to defeat a motion for full BART to Livermore, with directors Bevan Dufty (San Francisco), Nick Josefowitz (San Francisco), Rebecca Saltzman (Berkeley), Lateefah Simon (West Oakland) and Robert Raburn (Oakland) against building the $1.6 billion extension.

They then voted down a motion for Express Bus/BRT to Livermore, on a count of 5-3-1.

“My sense of it is they definitely heard us, that we don’t want anything to do with buses,” Olson said. “No question they heard us.”

The board closed by voting 5-2-1 to not advance any alternative and revert to the regional rail authority -- meaning it would be up to the authority to select a preferred option, as long as the BART board doesn’t change its mind before July 1.

“It’s good for the Tri-Valley,” Olson said of decision-making shifting to the authority. “I think the door is open for them to be somewhat creative and look at some options here … both in terms of operationally and financially.”

The authority is overseen by officials from Tri-Valley and west San Joaquin cities, both counties and BART and is tasked solely with delivering improved connectivity between BART and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train.

They are exploring the concept of light rail across the Altamont, connecting Livermore to communities such as Mountain House, Tracy, River Islands, Manteca and perhaps ultimately Stockton. That could involve traditional BART, DMU or EMU from Pleasanton to Isabel.

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16 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 25, 2018 at 8:42 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

Good move, actually. Let the regional authority do it. It’s bound to do better than BART at building BART. And the maintenance yard made no sense.

19 people like this
Posted by Kip EA
a resident of Ironwood
on May 25, 2018 at 9:26 am

We need BART to go to Livermore - and if BART won't authorize the payment for it, then the Tri Valley authority should do it. In fact, BART should go even further (Tracy?) to alleviate some of horrific traffic on 580.

33 people like this
Posted by Buc Lau
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 25, 2018 at 9:44 am

Buc Lau is a registered user.

This makes it really simple. Let’s STOP PAYING the extra sales tax that we have been burdened with for the last 30 years! Interesting that they chose to extend into the South Bay , but the South Bay voted three decades ago to NOT PAY the extra sales tax. Who got paid off for that decision? What a bunch of suckers we are. Like I said several months ago when this issue was raised, BART to Livermore will NEVER happen because the gave up the right to use the 580 median when CalTrans put in the Lexus Lanes oops I mean Fastrac/Toll lanes. It ain’t gonna happen, so let’s stop paying the tax.

28 people like this
Posted by fraud
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 25, 2018 at 10:05 am

What this mean is that Measure BB with that being the "last chance" for BART to Livermore by funding the $400 million study was all a fraud?

This sounds just like the PUSD when they use a carrot to pass a bond measure (build a new school) that they seem to never intend to really build.

Livermore and the region should sue the BART board to get every penny back that was ever paid into building BART in the first place.

26 people like this
Posted by You cannot trust BARTD
a resident of Livermore
on May 25, 2018 at 10:31 am

BART has taken the equivalent of about $500 million from Livermore taxpayers over about 50 years plus the huge state and federal subsidies that were supposed to pay to build the electric train to Livermore, (and the service yard) and built nothing. They even gave away the the right of way for the Lexus Lanes, and tried to sell off the land for the station and parking. And they oppose parking close to the "proposed" station, as too convenient!!!

They did not build much parking at the Pleasanton/Dublin Station either
- which fills up at about 6 am,

because they claimed it was NOT the end of the line.
Then they said they didn't have the money.

The Legislature found and offered them about $30 million to build a parking garage there, and BARTD still refused to do it.
So the money is going to the county, who will build the garage themselves on adjacent land.

If their lips are moving, they are lying.
How can we get them to be fair or honest, or get them out?
More Legislative action?

11 people like this
Posted by BART sold the parking lot at Dublin
a resident of Livermore
on May 25, 2018 at 10:39 am

To developers, to build more Stack and Pack big apartment buildings:
"Instant Slums".
But they didn't build enough parking for the residents either.

Maybe BARTD thinks that will force all those new people to take the train, but really it will just fill up any street parking around.
People already clog the parking lots at businesses nearby.

Originally BARDT promised a comfortable seat for every rider, and that the parking would be free!

They also have a bridge they'd like to sell you!!

8 people like this
Posted by Not just extra sales tax
a resident of Livermore
on May 25, 2018 at 10:42 am

You also pay extra property tax.

What do you get for it?

6 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 25, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

Buc, the new authority’s plans have them building down the center of 580 from Greenville to BART. That’s the most expensive part of their plan, as the rest of it they think is only $400m. But now they’ll have access to the funds, some from that sales tax and such that would have otherwise gone to BART. And there won’t be a problem relocating the carpool lanes when they widen the freeway. They just have to pay for the relocation and the land acquisition along the sides of the freeway.

It’s better this way. BART can’t get out of their historical design decisions—the strange rail technology, the infrequency, their selling the second level of their SF stations to Muni—-and so let’s have a more locally accountable agency take care of it.

I give credit to the people who insisted on AB758. Getting the authority away from BART was good. And I’m also glad BART didn’t get greedy and try to steal the money.

8 people like this
Posted by RR
a resident of Golden Eagle
on May 25, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Does anyone know where BART got the money to build the West Dublin Bart station? Why was it built? It was not on the original plans when BART started building in the 1970’s? Livermore was on original plan?

5 people like this
Posted by BARTD has been stealing the money for 50 years!
a resident of Livermore
on May 26, 2018 at 10:22 am

That particular broken promise is not just the Sales Tax and Real Estate tax money - it is also the matching government funds needed to get the money up front, that was supposed to pay for the train to Livermore.
It is not an "Extension", it was part of the design and budget.
But BARTD took our money, AND the State and Federal money and spent it on OTHER things.

Now they want us to help replace the money they already received,
and they want to re-study (Just Means DELAY) the project that was already included in the original proposal.

And they want new multi story apartment buildings with no land,
usually done so there will be riders- but this is the end of the line,
plenty of riders. What they need is the parking they also promised, but won't build.
They even sold off the land that was surface parking at was in Dublin. To build apartments.

They ARE building to Pittsburg, to Santa Clara, to two Airports. How is that fair?

The legislature created a new agency, Notice they didn't stop the extra taxes.
I hope they will take the future money that BARTD has been stealing- Better yet, if they can't build refund the prior money, and stop all those taxes, until they do!
Maybe the Legislature can help?

1 person likes this
Posted by Billie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 26, 2018 at 10:45 am

The property would be a great source of revenue for the city if it were developed

6 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on May 26, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Voters keep giving BARTD money and they will keep spending it, what a racket, these people should be locked up for theft of public funds

3 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 26, 2018 at 8:36 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

@BARTD, I’m not sure you meant to reply to me, as I didn’t say anything good about BART except that I’m glad that they didn’t steal this round of money...unlike the first $490m tax revenue.

I totally agree that they should have used the money up front years ago. Adjusting for inflation isn’t the right measure: it should be adjusted for construction cost inflation, which is significantly higher.

I like BART the system. I don’t like BARTD. So I’m glad they are punting the ball away to the local authority.

4 people like this
Posted by RR
a resident of Golden Eagle
on May 28, 2018 at 11:01 am

Does anyone know WHERE DID THE DID THE MONEY COME FROM TO BUILD THE WEST DUBLIN STATION? That was not on the original plan. Livermore was!

5 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 28, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Typical outcome. The real answer is spend $20BN and extend over the Altamont. Everyone in the Bay Area and Central Valley pay for it including funding from the state. Instead, nothing practical will be done. The population over the Altamont will grow by 1MM plus over the next 30 years. Currently, Lathrop is adding 20,000 homes as part of the River Islands development. Tracy Hills is adding 5,000 units. Manteca is approving record numbers of permits. No vision. Gross systematic incompetence.

2 people like this
Posted by BrendanForCongress
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2018 at 2:27 pm

BrendanForCongress is a registered user.

"If you say you're going to do something, you better damn well do it."
- Eric Swalwell Dec 30, 2012 (Source: SF Chronicle)

"I've been working to keep the promise we made to the voters when I and others worked to pass Measure BB, which is to pay for BART to go to Livermore."
- Eric Swalwell Feb 24, 2017 (Source: Pleasanton Weekly)

"The biggest impact I can make right now is helping to lead the charge in Washington to get federal dollars here for BART to ACE."
- Eric Swalwell Feb 24, 2017 (Source: Pleasanton Weekly)

One must wonder what the fate of extending BART to Livermore would have been if Eric had actually produced any federal funding for this project since Measure BB passed almost 4 years ago.

Eric is not a bad guy; he just hasn't been able to make good on any of his deliverables. When you go to work your employer expects you to deliver the agreed upon results. Congress works for YOU. YOU are the boss and make the hiring and firing decisions. After 3 terms results matter, and the district deserves a Representative who will focus on issues important to District 15 so that they can produce results that benefit everyone in District 15.

1 person likes this
Posted by Joe magee
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 5, 2018 at 6:02 am

Joe magee is a registered user.

Livermore is not important to the bart board
If they lived in livermore and had to drive to the bart station ,things would change

Like this comment
Posted by Joe magee
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 5, 2018 at 6:04 am

Joe magee is a registered user.

If they lived in livermore and had to drive to the bart station ,things would change

Like this comment
Posted by Mikel
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jun 5, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Mikel is a registered user.

It’s time to hold BART and the politicians accountable for the theft of taxpayer money.

Like this comment
Posted by Snowflake
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Jun 6, 2018 at 10:14 am

Snowflake is a registered user.

Please all the conspiracy theorists, just stop.

Re-read the article - while BART did not approve BART-to-Livermore, funds and decision-making authority has been punted to another entity.

“Tonight, BART demonstrated that they are incapable of building a five-mile extension,” Marchand said. “But now the Measure BB funds go to the AB758 regional rail authority will now move ahead to plan build a rail connection cheaper, faster and more efficiently without BART's 40% soft costs or $360 million maintenance yard.”

2 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 25, 2018 at 10:31 am

Flightops is a registered user.

So now Bart announces they are creating an “ inspector general” position to provide independent oversight of the Bart district practices— good idea but the governor is leaving it up to the Bart Board to pick 3 finalists for the position then the governor will pick and appoint somebody from that short list?? Letting Bart choose who will watch over them and keep them honest seems like another trip down a bad set of tracks!!

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