Friday, May 15, 2009

BART Moves OAC Forward, Apparently at Staff's Request

Rachel Gordon reports that the BART Board of Directors has approved the funding plan for the Oakland Airport Connector. The OAC has come under fire from transit riders and community groups because its price tag ($552 million) might better be spent avoiding cuts to service. Gordon reports:
The decision came after a five-hour public hearing at BART headquarters in which more than 70 people - split almost evenly for and against the project - testified. -Rachel Gordon (via SF Chronicle)
But how many of those who testified for it were BART staff?

Calitics reported Wednesday that BART staff have apparently been running a campaign to lobby the Directors in favor of the OAC. Oakland blogger Rebecca Salzman noticed that an email from the Airport Area Business Association (AABA) in favor of the OAC was essentially a copy of a letter that Kerry Hamill, a BART staffer, sent to the Oakland City Coucil.

Cranking up the smell, Salzman noticed that the sample letter attached to the email, which AABA was encouraging folks to mail to the BART Directors, was actually authored by a BART staffer on a BART-owned computer.

I'm not a fan of the OAC, although it's not highest on my list of priorities. But BART staff using job time to confuse citizens and lobby the Board of Directors is shady as hell.

It seems to have worked, though.


Anonymous said...

Please Visit Switching Modes for a DIFFERENT TAKE on the Oakland Airport Connector.

I think this project is a good thing. It was discounted with Federal Stimulus dollars. The existing bus is deplorable. We can do better. Not a just a little better, a lot better. This is the way to achieve it. When you consider how much a new parking garage costs, how much a new terminal costs… $500 million is reasonable.

LRT and BRT are great. But it is not appropriate in this case. It wouldn’t have resolved the problem because it wouldn’t be grade separated and it wouldn't have allowed for an integrated ticketing system. The result would be a system that shaves a few minutes and looks nice, but wouldn't have solved the problem of convenience and reliability. BRT, can have some similar benefits as a rail line, but not for the $44 million that was proposed by the advocates of BRT. No way.

And as far as BART using some its' time to protect its' image... that's OK. Just because it's a public agency doesn't mean that it can't protect its' image. That's ridiculous. BART gets the job done. They got the original system built, they got the extension to SFO built, they're going to get trains going into Silicon Valley... every project has huge amounts of opposition. Sometimes you got to rally the troupes.

Please check out the Switching Modes post.

Pedestrianist said...

I think you misunderstand. The problem isn;t BART defending its image, or even necessarily approving the OAC.

The smell I detect is one of BART employees testifying as members of the public without full disclosure of their role or conflicts of interest.

That's a bad thing and it can cause good government agencies to make bad policy decisions.