The BART Oakland Airport Connector

TRANSDEF’s statement to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday May 12:

I’m David Schonbrunn, President of TRANSDEF, a Bay Area environmental non-profit focused on regional transportation, and BART extensions in particular. This is a historic decision that will tell the world what your Board is really all about. The start is not promising, in that one of your employees is organizing a campaign for this project while on the job, using a email address. We believe this is certainly unethical and likely to be illegal.

Today’s hearing is a microcosm of BART’s central problem: The “jobs now!” contingent has an entirely understandable point of view. The problem is that the projects they come out to support have not been developed with an eye to reasonable benefits in relation to the costs involved. For that, we have to blame the political leaders that have put these ill-conceived projects on the public agenda, and kept supporting them even when costs became unreasonable.

In the opinion of TRANSDEF, your agency’s biggest failing is its extreme indifference to project cost. You have fostered a culture of pork. This has resulted in a huge unfunded capital replacement program, and high transit fares. The OAC is a poster child for out-of-control projects, whose costs have exploded far beyond what can reasonably be charged for a fare. A $6 one-way fare for a 10 minute ride will severely depress ridership.

This project is such a dog that you can’t come up with a public-private partnership. TRANSDEF strongly urges you to dedicate further indebtedness for your car replacement program, and not squander it on this boondoggle. We urge a No vote.