UPDATE (24 April 2009): At its April 23 meeting, the BART board decided to postpone approval of the Oakland Airport Connector, but nonetheless approved the transfer of $50 million of seismic retrofit funding and $70 million of ARRA stimulus funding to the project. Meanwhile, the FEIR for eBART was approved 8-1, with Tom Radulovich dissenting. More details on those projects below.
My apologies for the slow posting schedule lately. I will be very busy in upcoming weeks, so posting will be on the slow side by necessity, and may have to go on hiatus. I have not yet forgotten about the promised posts on the Delta; but for now, here is a post on tomorrow’s BART board agenda.
BART’s $54 million FY10 budget deficit — which it is projected will enlarge to a $249 million deficit over the next four years — has already gotten quite a bit of publicity. To close that deficit, BART is considering several measures, including additional parking fees at East Bay stations, and a 10% fare hike starting July 1, 2009. BART may also reduce evening and weekend headways from 15 minutes back to 20 minutes, restoring the pre-2008 timetable; also under consideration is a reduction of service to the Peninsula stations from two lines to only one. Even if these changes were implemented, there would still remain a $23 million deficit for this fiscal year. To deal with that remaining $23 million gap, some combination of additional fare hikes are possible, including: a $2 increase to the SFO station fare, a 25-cent increase to the minimum fare, a 10-cent increase for transbay trips, or increasing the proposed 10% fare hike to 15%. Further service reductions are also a possibility, although raising fares would bring in considerably more revenue than the amount of money that would be saved by cutting service. Midday service between South Hayward and Fremont may be reduced from two lines to one line, and direct service between Richmond/Fremont and San Francisco may also be eliminated during midday hours.
In spite of budget woes, BART will also be moving forward on several ongoing capital projects that will now be partially funded with ARRA federal stimulus funds.
Oakland Airport Connector (OAC): Thanks to an influx of stimulus funds, BART is moving quickly on the once-languishing OAC, the planned people mover that will link Coliseum BART to Oakland International Airport. The project was supposed to be partially funded from private sources, but the private partners have withdrawn. Despite protests from transit advocates, $70 million of ARRA stimulus funds will be applied to the project — but in order to actually take advantage of the use-it-or-lose-it ARRA funds, the OAC must be put out to bid by this June. An RFP and RFQ will be issued this May, with proposals due in September, and a contract awarded by November. BART plans to apply for a maximum $150 million TIFIA loan to close the funding gap. $50 million of Regional Measure 2 and other funding from the seismic retrofit of the Transbay Tube will also be applied toward the OAC.
Balboa Park Station West Entrance & Walkway: The Board is expected to authorize a $2.8 million contract to Novato-based West Bay Builders for improvements to the Balboa Park Station in San Francisco. A station entry plaza and ADA acccessible walkway will be built on the west side of the station to provide direct access to Ocean Avenue and City College. This project will be federally funded, with $2 million from ARRA and the remainder from ADA.
Facing east toward Railroad Avenue: cross-platform transfer between BART
and eBART at Pittsburg/Bay Point station. Courtesy of BART.
eBART: The Board is expected to approve the final EIR and adopt findings for eBART, a $502 million DMU line with two new stations at Railroad Avenue/Pittsburg and Hillcrest Avenue/Antioch. The cost includes over $36 million to alter the existing Pittsburg/Bay Point BART terminus, permitting a cross-platform transfer to eBART trains. The tracks will be located in median of Highway 4, and eBART construction will be coordinated with the widening of the eastern segment of freeway. In addition to the preferred DMU project, the EIR also contemplated four self-evident alternatives: no build, bus rapid transit, light rail, and conventional BART. A future extension is planned so that the line would eventually serve the full 23-mile corridor extending through Oakley, Brentwood, Byron, and Discovery Bay — but this EIR only analyzes the first phase, a roughly 10-mile extension terminating at Hillcrest. The EIR anticipates 3,900 daily entries and exits in the year 2015 (anticipated opening year of revenue service) at the two new stations, and 10,100 daily entries and exits by 2030, with the vast majority of those riders transferring to and from BART.
Central Contra Costa County Crossover: The Board is expected to award a $28 million contract to Shimmick/Balfour Beatty for the Contra Costa County crossovers. This project will add two C-line crossovers between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations (along with two traction power substations), to ease the process of turning trains around early for Pittsburg/Bay Point peak hour short line service. Although once planned to be funded straight out of RM2, the crossover project will now take advantage of $13 million of ARRA stimulus funds, with the remainder coming from RM2 and the FTA.
Those who protest the Oakland Airport Connector really have no sense of the big picture. The East Bay’s economy is in disarray, long ago eclipsed by the South Bay and, again today, by San Francisco. It will continue to erode and precious tax revenue for things like AC Transit will disappear along with it. The Airport connector and the extension to San Jose are lifelines for the East Bay to economic growth that will allow improvements in more basic levels of service.
DaveO is incorrect – those who “protest” the Airport Connector as proposed object only to its expense and its lack of intermediary stops. Using a more flexible transportation system like Bus Rapid Transit can provide a fast and reliable Airport connection while supporting economic development around the Airport and even transportation needs beyond the Coliseum BART station, all for less money than an aerial structure.
The BART Board today voted to examine Airport Connector alternatives in two weeks, and voted to accept and apply for federal funds and loans.
You’ve made my point. The proposed alternatives are not airport connectors. They are local transit routes. Tourists or businesspeople and even Bay Area residents will not be any more likely to use Oakland airport if getting to Bart will require using some form of local Oakland surface transportation that is marginally better than Airbart. To have any positive impact, it needs to be direct airport to Bart connection that is grade separated and does not give the experience of local Oakland mass transit. Anything less is a waste of money.