I wanted to give a few updates on issues I’ve covered here on the transport politic; just because I haven’t discussed an issue for a while doesn’t mean nothing has been happening…
»» I argued back in March that the Oakland Airport Connector project was a poor use of stimulus funds for the Bay Area and that a bus rapid transit system operating in dedicated lanes would be a more equitable solution to this transportation problem. Not surprisingly, BART’s board didn’t listen to me. Yesterday, it approved the $550 million line for construction because “It will provide jobs,” according to BART director Carole Ward Allen. The project is expected to attract 4,350 riders a day. It would not have qualified for New Starts funding at that level, so Oakland’s lucky it got stimulus funds for the project.
»» I discussed the Charlotte business community’s opposition to a new half-cent sales tax for transit, which came even as transit operator CATS has predicted it will be unable to complete most of the lines it originally wanted built because of the recession. But on Monday, the Charlotte city council voted 7-4 to lobby state legislators for the chance to hold a referendum on an additional 1/2¢ tax that would allow the city to complete all of its mass transit investments by 2032. With the exception of the proposed airport line, which isn’t expected to have high ridership, the projects would open by 2021.
»» One of Miami-Dade’s county commissioners threatened to work to repeal that city’s 1/2-¢ sales tax, a terrible idea on several fronts even though the city has been notoriously bad at spending the money it has, using most of it to increase salaries instead of pay for more transit lines. The county commissioners thankfully defeated the proposal to do so 7-4, though commissioner Carlos Gimenez said he would push to garner citizen signatures to put the measure on the ballot…
»» Sound Transit’s East Link program, which will expand Seattle’s light rail to Overlake and (maybe) Redmond, will include a segment through downtown Bellevue, and I discussed the issues surrounding whether to build a tunnel or allow surface light rail there. ST’s board decided yesterday that — unsurprisingly — the surface route was the only option for now, because of the lack of funds for a tunnel. However, the board left the tunnel option open for future consideration if the city of Bellevue is able to find the money to build it, which appears to be a possibility; it appears that if funding is found, the tunnel option will be picked for this corridor. The money for the tunnel through Bellevue has nothing to do with the potential future extension to Redmond. (I take back what I said incorrectly in my previous post.)
»» Kansas City transit activist Clay Chastain, no matter the odds, is going to keep fighting for better transit in his (former) city. He lost his lawsuit in the Missouri Court of Appeals that argued that the city had acted against the peoples’ will in rejecting the light rail plan that Mr. Chastain formulated back in 2006 and which was approved by voters. The same electorate proceeded to vote against a funding measure in 2008. The city, which didn’t have the money to pay for the project, was authorized to cancel it, according to the court. Mr. Chastain presented his new plan — a 10-mile light rail line featuring a 350-foot-tall waterfront windmill — to an uninterested city Parks and Rec board, and hopes to put the proposal, along with a 3/8¢ sales tax, on the ballot this fall.
»» Peter Rogoff, the President Obama’s pick for FTA administrator, wants to “strike the balance” between new projects and renovated ones, according to The Overhead Wire. Does that mean that he’s not going to fight for more transit New Start money? We’ll have to see.