VTA says BART only, and forget about the rest of the South Bay

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Friday, December 12, 2008
By Yokota Fritz

Caltrain #329 San Jose Diridon Station
Remember about six weeks ago whenI wrote this?
VTA will divert funding from Caltrain and their existing transit services to pay for service to Fremont from San Jose.
Well guess what? I told you so.
"It's clear we can't see the BART project getting money if we're spending our local money on other projects," said VTA General Manager Michael Burns. "That just doesn't add up."

I also wrote: "The sales tax revenue projections will be off by as much as 50%." And gee, look what the VTA board learned last night:
There's not enough cash to build the $6.1 billion BART extension along with the more than a dozen projects approved by voters eight years ago. That half-cent sales tax may produce $2 billion less than originally forecast.
What is VTA specifically talking about cutting right now? And I think we can expect more cuts as VTA looks realistically at their finances, just like SamTrans was forced to do after their regrettable involvement with BART: I foresee less frequent bus service, a cut in weekend service, even entire lines getting cut.

What especially angers me is Michael Burns's ridiculous statement that Santa Clara County voters overwhelmingly and consistently say they want BART in the South Bay: "Given that voters have endorsed BART not once, but twice," says Burns, "from the staff's perspective the priority is clear and that priority is BART." The people certainly voted for BART, but they likely did not understand that a vote for BART was a vote against every other South Bay transit system. And the first vote in 1996 was not specifically for BART, but for VTA funding in general.

Read the entire article here. Sorry about the negativity on a Friday, but I'm truly angered after reading about VTA's BART planning meeting. I'll try to post something a little more positive later today.

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Seriously we need like one public transportation authority so there is not so much duplication of effort. The thing that bothers me is that each one of these has a bunch of redundant staff. If you go to Munich they have one group that runs the system DB.
This is troubling - but reading the Merc article, the sense I get is that they are not planning to cut existing services, but only de-prioritizing *new* (granted, these were voter-approved) stuff in favor of BART. I am still cautiously optimistic. Will have to wait and see how this evolves.

Btw - people HAVE overwhelmingly said they want BART in the south bay. 66.67% is a lot of percent. Lets not deny that; instead focus on what the fall-out is going to be and how to make sure crazy cuts aren't made in BART's name.
Full disclosure. I am a big fan of BART and I for one am looking forward for it to come to San Jose. It will finally make traveling in the Bay Area useful. Caltrain on peninsula, BART everywhere else. And before people attack me with all sorts of things, try going on Sunday evening from Berkeley to SJ and you will see what I mean.

As for the Caltrain goes, I thought electrification of Caltrain will be payed from Prop 1a money. Is that the case?
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