Social Justice Leader Condemns BART for Proceeding with OAC Funding

OAK_rendering1.jpgImage: BART.
While BART will soon take a funding plan to its Board of Directors for the Oakland Airport Connector, Carl Anthony, the founder of Urban Habitat and a fellow in the Department of Geography at Berkeley, has called on the agency to wait to proceed with funding the OAC until the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) deems the project compliant with federal Title VI civil rights standards.

The FTA had denied BART $70 million in stimulus funding earlier this year because the agency failed to conduct the required fare analysis to determine the impacts of the OAC on low-income riders.

In a letter addressed to Board of Directors Chair James Fang, Anthony said by proceeding with a funding plan before the project was deemed compliant, BART would fail to meet the "gold standard" of civil rights, its purported goal.

From the letter:

In February, BART achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the only stimulus applicant to be denied funding on civil rights grounds. At the time, BART's staff and Board declared their commitment to becoming the "gold standard" for civil rights, and recommitted the agency to completing not only the necessary analysis of the Oakland Airport Connector project, but the entire corrective action plan that FTA found necessary as a result of agency-wide civil rights non-compliance.

By asking the BART Board to approve a funding plan for a project that has not yet completed an approved fare equity analysis, staff is signaling that this project will be pursued without regard to its civil rights impacts and compliance. Your approval of a project funding plan before the Title VI impacts are known would be a declaration that BART does not care about results of the pending analysis.

I respectfully ask that the BART Board hold true to its promise of rising to the "gold standard" on civil rights by holding off on any decisions about this project until FTA has approved the required civil rights analysis for the project.

BART spokesperson Linton Johnson said the advocates don't understand the process. "BART has kept the FTA in the loop on our efforts to secure more funding and the FTA does not have a problem with us doing this work," said Johnson.

"The FTA was only requiring us to get its approval on our action plan to cure the Title VI deficiencies," he added. "The FTA isn't going to be issuing another round of approvals. The process simply requires that we continue according to our plan. Once we completed the steps in the approved FTA plan, we have completed the FTA's requirements."