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.