Transit Advocates, Construction Workers Show Up in Force at MTC Meeting

wyec.jpgPhotos by Matthew Roth via Twitter

Transit advocates in favor of redirecting stimulus funds for the Oakland Airport Connector to financially struggling transit agencies are out in force at this morning’s MTC Commission meeting in Oakland, along with dozens of union construction workers. Streetsblog’s Matthew Roth reports the main meeting room and overflow rooms are filled beyond capacity. Roth and Streetsblog contributor Chris Carlsson are covering the meeting and will have full write-ups later today. In the meantime, follow our Twitter feed for updates, and see more photos below the break.

mhb.jpgTransit advocates rally outside the meeting.
s8po.jpgConstruction workers were also out in force.
24kic.jpgBicycle advocates want the MTC via the Bay Area Toll Authority to commit funds to expanding a complete bike path across the Bay Bridge.
  • So the choice is either – give a few construction workers a few jobs from a foreign firm for a project that will be a drain on resources and a waste of taxpayer dolllars, or give the money to transit agencies looking to lay off tons of workers and help them pay for maintenance now so we don’t have a flippin’ crash or worse later?

    It’s a no brainer. Which is why I’m sure the MTC will f*ck this up. Then when BART f*cks up the process and loses all the money, everyone loses.

    WHY are the people in charge of transit in the Bay Area so stupid sometimes? I mean is it a requirement to just blindly spend money on crap or what?

  • Joseph

    Yet, one more person out of touch. That $70 million isn’t going back to transit operations — its divided by the dozen transit providers ($6 million per) in the Bay Area and will be spent on a few new busses, street signs and carpet and seats — directly from China. Get your facts straight!! The OAC project was voted on in 2000 overwhelmingly by Alameda County voters, and now we have a handful of ill advised transit advocates who think they know better? Our elected officials have a responsibility to uphold the will of the majority voters — no to cow tow to a small minority of yahoos.

  • Actually, according to the spreadsheet and confirmed by Steve Heminger, most transit agencies would use the funds for “Preventative Maintenance” which basically is operating money.

    May not matter, the votes here (less mine and Bates) will be overwhelmingly for the Connector again.

  • “The OAC project was voted on in 2000 overwhelmingly by Alameda County voters, and now we have a handful of ill advised transit advocates who think they know better?”

    Alameda County Voters – e.g. people who rarely take transit and wouldn’t know if this makes it easier to get to the airport if it hit them in the ass.

    Ill advised transit advocates – e.g. people who always take transit and can look at the plans and say “Guess I’ll be flying out of SFO, this train is bullshit”

  • Sad to see that proponents of OAC like Joseph will stoop to bald face lies. The $70 million would be used for transit operations, not for buses, signs, carpets, or seats. And last time I checked the bus operators actually lived in the Bay Area so the money would stay here.

    Why don’t the construction workers and engineers who might work on the project simply come out and say that they don’t care that this is one of the most wasteful projects ever and that the whole point is to simply shovel money into their pockets?

  • Joseph get your facts straight and stop twisting my words to promote your point of view. Not that I’m surprised – shit projects like this always triumph in the face of budget sanity.

    Watch this project get used as the Democratic version of the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaksa. Sucks to be an MTC commissar.

  • patrick

    “The OAC project was voted on in 2000 overwhelmingly by Alameda County voters”

    That OAC is no longer the same project that was voted on.

    The project voted on cost 1/4 the current project, improved travel times over the existing bus, had competitive fares, and connected directly to the terminal. None of those are true the the OAC as currently proposed.

    I’m not even sure how the EIR is still valid for this project.

  • The 2003 or 2004 (as I recall) Alameda ballot measure was not a referendum on the OAC… it was primarily a basket of good pro-transit bonding projects… but the OAC connector was attached as a line item. There was no way to say “no” to OAC, but “yes” to everything else. Back then I knew it was a horrible project (a benefits-to-cost ratio of 0.05 according to the MTC!). But being pro-transit as I am, I voted yes for the measure…. I had little choice.

  • Joseph

    “Bald face lies?” All you have to do is look at the Tier 2 Contingency list to see where the money would have gone. Go to the MTC website and then call me a liar?

    In the Tier 2 funding BART would have spent 16 million on:

    Cover Board Replacements $6M
    Additional APSE units $6M
    Floor and Seat Cushions $2.5M
    Additional Car Capacity Interior Reconfigurations $1M
    48V Power Supplies for Station Communications $1M

    This is factual my friends — maybe two transit agencies in the Bay Area would have used 5 million total on “Preventative Maintenance”. I am sure glad the MTC did the right thing. ARRA’s intent was to create and retain jobs, this is one time money to be used on “projects” to help jump start the economy, not to bail out transit agencies with new maintenance money.

  • Joseph – care to clarify if you stand to personally gain from the OAC project?

  • Joseph

    John,

    I have no financial stake whatsoever in the OAC project.

  • those dudes

    @Michael Smith,

    The OAC may be a bad project, but reading the MTC docs it appears that Joseph is right that this $ would not have gone to transit operations. The Tier 2 MTA projects that could have recieved the $ were for rebuilding LRVs and for preventative maintenance.

  • patrick

    Clearly the MTC does not consider the interests of the residents of the bay area to be of importance, anybody have an idea of how we go about organizing to get the Commissioners elected rather than appointed?

  • patrick

    @Joseph

    If they fail to meet the FTA requirements all of that money is gone.

    Whether you are right or wrong about what that money will be spent on if it’s spent on the projects you listed above, the same arguments can be made about spending it on the OAC: some of that money will be spent on products and service that come from outside the U.S., much less the bay area.

    So what is so great about the OAC project that makes you say “the MTC did the right thing” and makes it worth jeopardizing the $70 million if they fail to meet the title VI requirements?

  • “The Tier 2 MTA projects that could have recieved the $ were for rebuilding LRVs and for preventative maintenance.”

    Assuming this is something that has to happen no matter what, MUNI could then “move” the money that is already budgeted for those items to pay salaries/etc…

    Assuming BART would also use the money for preventative maintainance – if BART was currently planning to NOT do preventative maintainance, perhaps they could turn off the power to the rails that use to carry the now-broken trains, so I could ride my bike on the BART tracks to the Coloseum stop so I could then take the OAC to the Airport.

  • Nick

    The interests of livable streets activists and construction trade workers are not mutually exclusisve. Currently upwards of 30-40% of construction workers are out of work in the Bay Area. In my opinion, the Livable Streets movement is missing a tremendous oppurtunity to fix both our problems.

    Example: Using ARRA funds for WPA-style livability projects. The Wiggle Creek idea of last week requires plumbing work, electrical work, motors, pumps and controls, cement work, landscaping….

    Or the City could do a study on it and keep their engineers employed while ultimately deciding to do nothing. Like I said, a tremendous oppurtunity is being lost here.

  • Steve Heminger of MTC said he was confident the transit operators would move money around and put the $70 M to preventive maintenance, would is an operating budget expense. He said they would likely skew projects even more to this direction than indicated on the list.

  • Joseph

    @ Nick — Agreed. My point is OAC good, bad or indifferent it does create jobs in a economy that is suffering with high unemployment compared to buying a bunch of new seat cushions and creating work in China. What some folks are losing sight of is that ARRA (one time money) was billed to the American people as a stimulus program. Yeah, the transit agencies can take a band aid approach and can play a shell game with any source of funds to help backfill their operating budgets. and we all know the Title VI issue is a Pelosi, Feinstein or Boxer call to FTA away from being put to rest if that money is ever really at risk if being diverted away from the Bay Area.

  • patrick

    @Joseph

    OAC is bad. It’s taken money from other much worthier projects that could have produced just as many or more jobs and provided improved transit, rather than the worsened transit as the OAC will (what do you think will happen to BART’s budget when the OAC fails to meet it’s projections?).

    The $70 million is only a small portion of the overall budget of the OAC, which is now near $500 million. You could build a new BART station or two, the airport BRT & probably repair the Dumbarton rail bridge for that amount of money, which would provide more jobs.

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