In their own words: John Knox White on the Oakland Airport Connector
Just over a week ago, the Federal Transit Administration alerted BART to the fact that their Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project, the pet project of Alameda’s BART representative, Carol Ward Allen, was out of compliance with mandatory civil rights regulations. Their unusually strongly-worded letter, addressed to both BART and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency that oversees regional transportation planning, said that the Bay Area is at serious risk of losing $70 million in federal stimulus money if these agencies continue to try and move forward with funding this project using these funds.
The OAC has become a half-billion dollar boondoggle that was once planned to whisk Oakland International Airport passengers from the Coliseum BART stop to the airport, but it has become a glorified ski-lift. The project that is about to be built will take longer to get to Oakland Airport than the current AirBART service that it plans to replace and for this privilege, riders will pay twice as much as they do now.
But wait, that’s not all! Luggage toting passengers will able to skip the gym on the day they fly, because they’ll be dragging their luggage (hopefully they have luggage with wheels) two to three times further than they do today, they’ll negotiate more escalators, and then, because it would too convenient to be dropped off closer than the current bus service, riders get to be dropped off in the parking lot where they can cross six lanes of traffic just to reach the current AirBART stop.
Today, the MTC will be voting on whether to fund the OAC and its planned 600 new daily riders or to fund transit for hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents, including thousands of Alamedans and whether to save hundreds, if not thousands of jobs throughout the region.
While the decision doesn’t seem to be a hard one, it is incredibly up in the air as to what the commission will do. But you can help make the choice clearer, and I’m here asking you to do so.
On your way to work, attend the Rally for Justice and Jobs, which starts at 9 a.m. today at MTC headquarters, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland (right next to Lake Merritt BART).
And if you can’t make the rally, send a letter to the Commission from this handy dandy email app.
By taking action, you’ll not only be helping the MTC follow through on their mandate of planning for commuters and all Bay Area residents, you’ll also be sending a strong message that regional planning needs to be serving the needs of all residents, not just the desires of a small group of politically connected people.
Thank you for listening.
John Knox White is a program director for TransForm, a regional advocacy organization that works to create world-class public transportation and walkable communities in the Bay Area and beyond.