Action Alert: Help Stop the Wasteful Oakland Airport Connector
What: BART Board Meeting
When:Thursday May 14th, 9am
Where: BART's Board Room: 344 20th Street, 3rd floor (at corner of Webster Street) in Downtown Oakland in building w/ Longs called the: Kaiser Center Mall
Don’t waste half a billion dollars of our taxes on a project we can’t afford
At a time when AC Transit, Muni, and BART are all so broke they are talking about raising fares and cutting service to pay their bills, BART wants to build an extension to the Oakland Airport so expensive to construct that it will cost $12 on top of BART fare to get to the airport. This extension would further divide up East Oakland, without providing residents with transportation (it would only stop at BART and the Airport) or long term jobs.
A better, lower cost alternative exists! – Bus Rapid Transit- that will have greater long term benefits for BART riders, East Oakland residents, and workers who need permanent jobs. Don’t let MTC favor the white-collar jet-set over low-income families and others who use transit every day by blowing our money on a wasteful project.
Now’s our chance to win $70 million back for our everyday transportation needs
The BART Board will be voting to decide whether to borrow $150 million from the federal government to move ahead with the project at its Board Meeting on Thursday May 14th at 9am. Many on the BART Board are not sure the Airport Connector project is a good idea. Help us convince the Board that this project should be re-considered and that the $70 million in federal stimulus money allocated to the project should go back to transit operators to provide better everyday transit.
What can you do to stop this wasteful project?
1. Call the BART Board (talking points and contact info follows)
2. Email or Fax the BART Board
3. Come and voice your opinion to the BART Board Meeting, Thursday May 14th at 9am at BART’s Offices (344 20th Street, 3rd floor (at corner of Webster Street) in Downtown Oakland in building w/ Longs called the: Kaiser Center Mall)
4. Become a leader in Transportation Justice work
A. Attend Genesis’ organizing training Saturday, May 2nd from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the First Congregational Church of Oakland (2501 Harrison St.). The event will focus on strategies to win transportation justice victories, including on the upcoming airport connector issue as well as future projects. This event will also include training by Mike Kruglik, who is the organizer who trained President Barack Obama while he worked as a community organizer with Genesis' parent organization, the Gamaliel Foundation. Space is limited, so please RSVP to Michael Ohlrogge, Genesis Organizer, at email@example.com or by phone at 510-227-0136.
B. Join the TJ Working Group, which raises awareness among community groups and decision makers of the discriminatory consequences of our current transportation policy-making. We document the unequal benefits and burdens of our transportation system and we defend the transit rights of low income families and communities of color.
Draft Email or Fax
Hello My Name is ___________. I live in ______________. I am a regular BART rider and/or transit user.
I am calling to ask you to not approve the federal loan for the proposed Airport Connector on May 14th and instead consider a lower-cost alternative solution, like Bus Rapid Transit.
The project is much too expensive, especially at a time when BART and bus Operators are talking about raising fares and cutting service. It also would also cut up the neighborhood, and will not provide residents with new service or long term jobs.
A low-cost solution, like Bus Rapid Transit, could provide nearly the same level service to travelers, without putting BART further in debt. It would likely attract more riders too- since it would not have to cost $12 round trip like the current proposal.
Finally, it could have some of the same stimulus and job creation impacts as the current project has. Even better, unlike the ‘automated’ Connector, it will create permanent good paying jobs for drivers.
Please vote against additional funds for the Airport Connector. Thank You.
How to Contact the BART Board of Directors
Call all the Board Members at: (510) 464-6095
Leave a message for your Board representative. The key members include:
Bob Franklin, (Berkeley, San Leandro, Hayward)
Carole Ward Allen, (Central and East Oakland)
Lynette Sweet, (Emeryville, El Cerrito, Richmond, North and West Oakland)
James Fang, (Portions of San Francisco)
Tom Radulovich (Portions of San Francisco)
Entire List of Board can be found: http://www.bart.gov/about/bod/index.aspx
Or, write them an email or fax:
(510) 464-6011 (fax)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the project?
The Airport Connector is a 3.2 mile above-ground BART extension between Oakland Coliseum BART station and the OaklandInternationalAirport. This "People Mover" will be automated (meaning there will be no driver). And while there is the possibility of a stop mid-way along the route, there are no plans or funding to build one.
The 10 minute ride will cost an additional $6 each way ($12 round trip) and will shave an estimated 5 or so minutes off the current AirBART trip. (AirBART is an express bus covering that route today. It costs $3 each way.)
Why is the project bad for East Oakland residents?
Residents and local businesses located in the Hegenberger corridor where the connector would run (between Oakland Coliseum BART and the OaklandAirport) will see no benefits from the project, but will experience more burdens:
Further isolation: The above-ground extension will fail to provide transportation access to a neighborhood that is already isolated and divided by the BART tracks, Highway 880, and two 6-lane roads connecting the 880 to the airport.
Most residents and riders won't be able to afford the trip: BART is planning on charging customers $6 each direction. This is too expensive, even for a middle-class family.
No New Transit Service: Even if residents could afford the $12 round trip, they aren't going to see any increase in service since there are no plans and no funds to build any stops along the route.
The project takes funding away from existing bus service serving the area, AC Transit. If the project were stopped or if a lower-cost alternative were chosen, BART would be forced to return the $70 million in economic stimulus funding back to MTC and MTC would then turn that money over to all of the transit agencies according to a formula. AC Transit, which serves the Oakland Coliseum/Airport neighborhood stands to gain $6 million it could use to reduce service reduction planned for this year and save some of the estimated 200 jobs it is considering cutting.
Why is this bad for all of BART's riders - especially its riders that are low-income?
This project could cause future fare hikes or service cuts on BART overall. BART is currently faced with a major budget shortfall and considering fare hikes and service cuts this year. (And BART is already WAY TOO EXPENSIVE!) Yet, BART's own projections find that if the ridership on the connector is on the low-end, they could run up an operating shortfall of $22 million in the first couple of years of operations.. this will add to its problem and will likely result in further fare hikes or service cuts.
Why is the Connector bad for BART?
This project is really expensive and will put BART further in debt. It's cost estimate has quadrupled since it was first conceived of almost 10 years ago. How can we know what it's true cost will be since we still don't know what kind of train they plan to use?
Original cost projection: $130 million
Today's cost projection: $522-552 million
BART already faces shortfalls it can't pay for:
· $53 million budget deficit next year
· $800 million - $1.5 billion in long-term debt
· $6 billion unfunded costs to replace old BART cars and other capital needs
How will they pay for this deficit and the additional Connector costs? It will happen at the expense of riders - service cuts or fare hikes.
Aren't there a lot of economic benefits of the Airport Connector?
Won't the Airport Connector create a lot of jobs for low-income people living in Oakland? It is true that the connector will create hundreds of construction jobs. But, there is no guarantee that these will go to local residents and many of them will go to prefabrication of rail segments outside of California. Furthermore, BART could choose a much cheaper alternative, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that would still create hundreds of construction jobs. The BRT would also provide permanent, well-paying, union jobs because it will require human drivers. Whereas the BART connector will be "automated," meaning it will be driven by technology- not with human drivers. So the BART Connector jobs are all temporary, whereas a BRT alternative would create both construction jobs and permanent jobs. Won't the Connector help local businesses? No. The businesses along the Hegenberger corridor will not receive any new transit service and hence, no new customer traffic or employee access. Instead, the connector will simply pass over them.
What is a better alternative?
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): A much better alternative: At a fraction of the cost, BART could provide better service between the Coliseum stop and the Airport. It would be so much cheaper that some believe it could be offered FREE to riders and there could be at least one local stop, so local residents and businesses could actually use and benefit from the service. If BART chose to put in Bus Rapid Transit, it could still provide travelers with a smooth, fast ride. And if BART were to select the Bus Rapid Transit alternative, then the $70 million in Stimulus funds would be returned to the transit agencies to be put to immediate use.
- Current Projected Cost of Oakland Connector: $168 million per mile or $537 million total
- Cost of BRT Alternative: $14 million per mile or $45 million total
 As of April 23, 2009. Presentation to Board of Directors by BART staff.
 Average between $522 and $552, which is the range of cost projection for the Connector as presented to the Board on April 23, 2009.
Cost estimate for BRT is based on cost estimates for AC's future BRT line that will replace the 1R.
Contact Information - Lindsay Imai and Bob Allen
phone: (510) 839-9510 or lindsay(at)urbanhabitat.org and bob(at)urbanhabitat.org