Airport Connector wins $140m from MTC. Plus links.

Apologies for the light posting this week. It’s been tough to find time to write lately. I’ll be back in regular form next week, but for today, you guys get another links list.

The MTC meeting yesterday on the Oakland Airport Connector was depressing, although the outcome was not unexpected. After hours of public testimony, the Commission voted to allocate $140 million to the project, with only three nos – San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, and former San Mateo Mayor Sue Lempert. The majority of the Commission seemed to have finally conceded that the Airport Connector is a bad idea. Comment highlights included Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese saying the current service is totally adequate and Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey concluding that by moving forward with the Airport Connector, BART is building a “permanent leak” into the system. But inertia (their word, not mine) is stronger than reason when it comes to government spending, and the general consensus at the end of the day was that we should just go ahead and do it, no matter how bad a project it is, because we’ve been trying and failing to build it for such a long time.

Although this was a major step for BART, the battle on this isn’t over, and of course, me and other local bloggers will be keeping you updated on how you can help as opportunities arise.

And now onto the links. Not much new going on in Oakland since yesterday, but here are some articles from other places that I’ve enjoyed recently. Maybe you will too.

Okay, that’s all for today. Enjoy!

11 thoughts on “Airport Connector wins $140m from MTC. Plus links.

  1. Transbay

    Also depressing was the commission’s not-atypical apathy to facts. Like the fact that the connection from the OAC station to the terminal won’t be seamless, and so you can’t point out the desirability of a seamless connection to justify your support of the project.

  2. Dave B.

    The BART connector seems to be a definite ‘leak’! Just from a passenger standpoint, I’ll maybe save 5 minutes time but pay double the rate. By the time this project is completed, the fees will probably be closer to ten dollars in no time. Witness the airport fee tacked on to get to SFO. Underprojected usage + spiraling costs = ridiculous fees, plus this will jeopardize the BART budget for years to come.

  3. dave o

    Maybe I haven’t read enough of this thread to de-lurk, but isn’t everybody broke: BART, the state, the city, the county? Why is there money for this when there isn’t money for things like potholes? The other thing – isn’t commercial airline service doomed by impending oil shortages? Why the push for airport infrastructure? Shouldn’t the money go for light rail or something that doesn’t squander fossil fuels? Does the commission have some special knowledge? Maybe vast high-grade oil reserves under Lake Merritt?

  4. Chuck

    “The BART connector seems to be a definite ‘leak’! Just from a passenger standpoint, I’ll maybe save 5 minutes time but pay double the rate.”

    I’d argue it gets worse than just the infrastructural “leak” this’ll create for upkeep on nonstandard rolling stock and trackway, as you allude to, DaveB. At a $6 one-way fare I will almost certainly be using the AC Transit buses from BART to the airport. From a “what’s my time worth” perspective I’m sure it’s largely cost-neutral ($4 less each way, but wait 10 minutes more, perhaps) but more than just a damn capital cost / maintenance leak, it’s absolutely going to be a leak from a rider perspective. When BART is relatively cost-effective against the ACT buses (right now it’s reasonably quick, reliable, regular, and just $1 difference; easy choice) they don’t have to worry about competition. But they’re pricing themselves out of the market in a way they’re not really even doing for SFO (yet).

    This tram is gonna make the SFO experiment look brilliant by comparison. I hope there’s still a chance we can do something before pissing away so much money that we need so desperately for other transit projects.

  5. Dave C.

    “Apparently, one of Pittsburg’s skyscrapers has lights on top that flash the city’s name in morse code. Neat, huh? Problem is, it spells the Pittsburg wrong.”

    It’s not only the skyscraper that is spelling “Pittsburgh” wrong. Very sly, V! ;)

  6. David

    “But inertia (their word, not mine) is stronger than reason when it comes to government spending, and the general consensus at the end of the day was that we should just go ahead and do it, no matter how bad a project it is, because we’ve been trying and failing to build it for such a long time.”

    If they had any decency or sense of shame, they’d resign over that remark. If we should do a bad project because of inertia, they’re admitting incompetence. If they don’t resign, they should be fired.

    And people in this state want to give more of their money away to this government? I’d rather throw the money out my window on the off chance someone who actually needs it, gets it and not some thumbsucking moron of a bureaucrat.

  7. Steve Lowe


    The BART Connector (“AC” as it’s known to the Chamber, Port and all our friends at MTC ) should be denied federal funding of any sort by the Obama administration, as it doesn’t live up to the President’s stated goal of putting the economy on track to the greenest possible future. Senators and Congresspeople, many of whom stand foursquare for social, economic, environmental and transportation justice in other countries may yet wish to have a say in how the Bay Area, particularly cash-strapped Oakland, its Port and even more cash-strapped BART can reconcile its profound need for economic reality with such a boondoggle.

    Can this President really have the wool pulled over his eyes by the most questionable, staff-driven MTC vote possible and blindly sign on the dotted line (or authorize his Secretary of Transportation to do it), when he has better, sounder advisors – the Van Joneses, Robert Reichs, Stephen Chus, etc., of his vaunted braintrust – informing him as to the citizen-hostile processes transit riders and other access fans have to endure hereabouts?

    it was good to see that Tom Bates, Chris Daly and Sue Lempert had their ears uncovered as the heartfelt testimony from those whose pocketbooks would be most affected – or is picked the proper term? – was delivered. Rebecca Kaplan, representing as she does most all of Oakland’s 400,000 or so citizens was given only two minutes to speak (and no time was allowed to be ceded), begging the question as to who represents whom at MTC, an institution that, for all its nonstop, self-congratulatory speeches as to level of volunteerism and dedication to public service, really must hate Oakland a whole hell of a lot: QED its earlier – and unanimous! – vote to bypass Oakland with High Speed Rail!

    Well, sports fans, there went any hope of saving the Oakland A’s at the Coliseum, as the AC won’t stop there on its merry no-stops-in-between way to the Airport, where – guess what? – at nearly double the price of the San Francisco airport connector and maybe triple the hassle, there’s hardly any riders anyway! What could all those highly educated minds, with all their access to transportation expertise, have been thinking? Maybe they had a collective brain-hemminger…

    And how soon before the focus of all those bozo jokes shifts from the circus to Oakland, Ca.?


    – S

  8. len

    the links to the sunshine fndation and the article on the less than stellar reality of obama’s transparency guru at DC was another example of good government ideas beating their heads on entrenched bureaucracies that don’t have to justify themselves directly to voters.

    so is there a stealth approach to increasing muni govt transparency bringing say financial info online the way oakland crimereporting does in it’s speciality, or maybe a freedom of information lawsuit method?

    didn’t JB bring up something about better record keeping a year ago?

  9. Joe DeCredico

    I know that this is an Oakland based blog, but I have been a long time supporter of Tom Bates and I want to thank him for his steadfast position against this proposal. I haven’t seen anyone here support this waste of funds, and I for one will be working hard to make sure that inertia effects those that voted for it at ballot box.

  10. Steve Lowe

    Joe –

    I don’t blog here so much, so it’s difficult to really say for how long anybody else at A Bitter Oakland has been following the Airport Connector. In my case it’s been at least six years, and always with the same complaint: what’s the point of a system that doesn’t provide maximum access to the surrounding area so that the optimum economic benefit can flow to Oakland precisely at its most intermodal point (right where, incidentally, we have the unique condition of three major sports franchises as ideal anchors for a major mall)?

    If the idea of the federal stimulus is to couple new technologies with improved access and thereby enhance the economic development potential for a given area (as per the Van Jones vision), what in God’s Green Hell are we doing by going in precisely the opposite direction?

    The larger question, to me, is: why are there so many politicians falling all over themselves in favor of such a goofy program? How many of them might try to justify their support via aa article in the funnypapers and explain away any of the arguments against the AC? This hasn’t happened because, one suspects, it would put them on record as hostile to the people who have to pay for this nonsense. Maybe we should just fo ahead and drop the “M” from mass transit and be done with it…


    – S

    [I agree with your assessment of Tom Bates, but still perplexed by his vote for HSR through Pacheco Pass and up the West Bay: where's any benefit for the East Bay in that supremely less efficient, more costly, sure-to-be-litigated, silicon-infuenced, route? Another shining victory for Heminger and the rest of MTC staff, though – and that seems to be what matters most in these really difficult times when the last thing we need is anything resembling practical solutions.]