TRANSDEF Opposes Alameda County Transportation Tax

The Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, TRANSDEF, announced its opposition to the proposed 2014 Alameda County Transportation Sales Tax, which will be Measure BB on the ballot in November. The measure would lock in funding for the next thirty years, precisely the critical time when humanity needs to severely reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), if we are to preserve a climate hospitable to life as we know it.

Alameda County, like other transportation agencies, finds it more comfortable and less controversial to continue doing what it has always done: focus its efforts on a network of roads and highways that predominantly serve single-occupant vehicles. While the current proposal has funding for transit and bike facilities, the underlying focus hasn’t changed at all. The County’s Transportation Plan predicts a 46% increase in Vehicle Miles Travelled in 2035, with a slight increase if the tax measure passes. (A later ACTIA document adjusted that figure downwards to “only” a 26% increase, but that drop had little or nothing to do with the tax. Most of that adjustment had to do with correcting the assumptions for modeling.) Single-occupant driving is barely affected by the Transportation Plan and tax.

Until TRANSDEF sees a serious effort to make carpooling, transit and biking the predominant ways to get around, we will oppose such measures.

MTC Shows its True Colors-OAC

MTC’s Programming and Allocations Committee met to once again take the heat in deciding whether to provide additional funding for the BART Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), a truly execrable project. This project, which had died after the Federal Transit Administration pulled the plug on $70 million in stimulus funding, showed itself to have many lives, and many functionaries willing to bend institutional rules to raise it from the dead. MTC violated its own rules in bypassing a required vote by its Commissioners, and was caught at it.

Large numbers of presumably unemployed carpenters showed up to flex their political muscles, with a banner eerily calling out CIA. Only this time, CIA meant Carpenters in Action. They were calling for jobs, and clearly weren’t much concerned that the project was enormously bloated in cost, and already eliminated any benefits for the impoverished community it was to pass through. The carpenters seemed unaware that most of the jobs resulting from the project would be elsewhere, where the people mover system will be built. The use of precast concrete is going to reduce the construction jobs dramatically.

After many impassioned speeches calling for MTC to preserve the Bay Area’s underfunded transit system and not waste money on the OAC, the committee voted to approve the funding. While there was a significant group of Commissioners who saw the problems with approving the money, they were in the minority.

MTC, through this and many previous votes, demonstrated more clearly than ever before that the agency truly does not give a crap about outcomes. The fact that the OAC would waste a half-billion dollars was not a consideration. MTC has always been about cutting political deals. The OAC represented someone’s deal, and MTC’s unspoken rules prohibit going back on a deal, no matter how loathsome a project has become.

Oakland Airport Connector--Government at its Worst

Guy Span wrote a powerful post on the decision of the BART Board to put itself into serious debt, in the midst of cutting service and not having the funds to replace its cars.

Here’s the comment we posted:

The BART Oakland Airport Connector

TRANSDEF blasted the BART Board as having “an extreme indifference to project cost.” Read More...