Bay Area Region
FTA to BART & MTC: You’ve run out of time on the OAC; reallocate $70 million in stimulus funds to the transit agencies
Posted on by Becks
After almost exactly a year of trying to make the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project equitable and cost-effective, it looks like we’ve finally won the original battle. Back in February 2009, more than a 100 advocates urged the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) not to provide stimulus funds to the OAC and instead to provide the funds to all the regional transit agencies to prevent service cuts and fare hikes.
In the first successful action of its kind in the nation, Bay Area members of Transit Riders for Public Transportation (TRPT), Public Advocates and Urban Habitat, filed a civil rights complaint to stop $70M in stimulus funds from being allocated to the $500-billion boondoggle rail project, the Oakland Airport Connector project (OAC).
For the first time since President Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a year ago, his administration has threatened to withhold stimulus money from a transit agency because it failed to comply with federal civil rights laws.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) threatened to pull $70 million in stimulus funds from Northern California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system because it failed to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits agencies that receive federal funds from discriminatory practices.
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Thursday, February 11, 2009
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BART Airport Project Moving Forward Amid Debate
A key regional transit agency voted 11-5 Wednesday to reaffirm its support for using $70 million in federal stimulus funds to help BART build a rail connector between its Coliseum station and the Oakland Airport. Sherry Hu reports.
BART won a heated battle Wednesday to keep alive its Oakland Airport Connector project despite federal threats to withhold $70 million in stimulus funds and a campaign by transit and social equity groups to instead give the money to struggling transit agencies.
OAKLAND — A planned BART connector from the Oakland Coliseum station to Oakland International Airport stayed on track Wednesday, pending an effort by BART to ease civil rights concerns posed by the Federal Transit Administration.
BART given until February 16 to create civil rights action plan for Feds
Facing a triple-overflow crowd at the monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission commissioners followed MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger's council to "hedge their bet." A growing minority of the commission is concerned that they could lose $70 Million in federal stimulus funds if BART continues to railroad the expensive and exclusive "sky tram" to the airport without adequate consideration to the equity of their plan. By an 11-5 vote the MTC approved a set of resolutions that gives BART until February 16th--12 working days--to come up with an equity action plan to meet the demands of the Federal Transit Administration who recently found BART in violation of their obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. If BART can't meet the deadline, the money will be distributed to transit operators (BART, MUNI, AC Transit, VTA and others) for a broad variety of operations and maintence expenditures that will prevent layoffs and service cutbacks across the region.
With the civil rights imbroglio between BART and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) making news last week, a problem that could imperil $70 million in federal stimulus funds obligated to the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), advocates are calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to give the stimulus money to cash-strapped transit operators or face the possibility of losing it altogether. The FTA has given BART until March 5th to prepare an action plan to meet Civil Rights Act Title VI requirements to analyze the impacts the OAC fares will have on minority and low-income riders, something BART has so far failed to do.