26 September 2005

The Trouble With Transit

There were a slew of articles in the last week about different BART projects and their respective funding difficulties. Here's a recap:
  • Oakland Airport BART Connector - BART is looking to private sources to build and fund the remainder of the Airport Connector. For now the project is a 3.2-mile people mover or monorail on an elevated track between the Coliseum BART station and Oakland International Airport, with a couple of stops in between along Hegenberger. For whatever reason, federal funds for it were not included in the huge transportation bill passed earlier in the summer. The problem here is that privatizing the connector will increase the cost to riders, to the tune of $5 per ride. The effect on the ballpark project is that this effectively eliminates the connector as an option for service from Coliseum BART to the ballpark development area, due to its cost and the fact that no one is intervening to propose a ballpark development area extension. Just for comparison, it should be pointed out that the current fare from Millbrae to the Coliseum station is $4.65.
  • BART-to-San Jose Extension - VTA just came out with new ridership and cost figures. The cost of the project is now $4.7 billion instead of the $4.2 billion projected in 2003, and ridership estimates are up 33% due to higher density development plans. While the project would mostly be funded by a 1/4-cent sales tax that could go for 25-30 years, VTA is also looking for $973 million in federal funding as well. VTA also revised its service opening date from 2015 to 2018. Should that proceed on schedule, there would be an 7-8 year gap between the opening of a ballpark in downtown San Jose and the start of BART service to the area.
  • BART-to-Warm Springs Extension - The above link also indicates that the Warm Springs extension is dependent on the eventual extension to San Jose, even though Warm Springs would be built first. If WSX doesn't get built, that's one selling point Fremont ballpark proponents won't have at their disposal.
Oddly enough, since none of these projects were being funded in the recent transportation bill, none could be cut or delayed as a result of post-Katrina/Rita cost-cutting efforts.


Georob said...

Aside from the fact that it's almost the "South Bay", I could never understand all the excitement about Fremont. Unless they've already got bids on or started building a BART extension, Warm Springs is a long way off. I mean, look how long it took to go to SFO?

Maybe Lew Wolff would be better served by looking at downtrodden East Bay cities like San Pablo or Richmond. I mean, if a place like San Pablo can base it's entire economic future on an Indian Casino, why not Major League Baseball? And in Richmond's case, you have a VERY lucrative but little used BART station at the end of the line, not to mention a potential corporate partner in their largest employer, Chevron.

I have to qualify all this by saying that I grew up in the area,(the hospital I was born at is next door to Casino San Pablo) so my objectivity is suspect. Still, West Contra Costa is so desperate for economic development that it just might give Mr. Wolff the keys to their cities.

Marine Layer said...

Even though Wolff has said he's open to looking elsewhere in the East Bay, I don't think he'll look much further north than Oakland. Emeryville is probably the furthest. He is actively trying to get more season ticket subscriptions in the South Bay, and locating a ballpark an extra 30-60 minutes north would be detrimental to that effort. Though I won't rule Richmond out if it's the last recourse. If BART went out to Point Molate, it would be a magnificent place to build a ballpark/village, and it would allow for a unique partnership among Chevron (who owns the land), the A's and their developers, the city (remediation), and EBRPD (parks). And we know how much Richmond and the parks district dislike each other. But even then, not having BART is a bit of a showstopper, especially with the road infrastructure improvements that would be required.

Down in Fremont, the Warm Springs extension was pretty far along in planning. I went to one of the public hearings and got a good vibe on the project, provided that the funding was there (which it wasn't). Assuming the funding was there, it would've opened around 2010, which is about the time a ballpark would have been completed.

Anonymous said...

BASEBALL in SAN JOSE is the best option!! Lets GO A's!