Monday, January 25, 2010

Let the MTC Know: the OAC is not OK

As I hope you've heard, BART and the MTC are in some deep federal trouble as a result of their handling of the Oakland Airport Connector.

In short: BART mismanaged their planning of the project, changing it extensively over the years without adequately reviewing the changes. The MTC gave a large chunk of the federal stimulus money it received to the project, because the MTC totally hearts BART. Some local transit advocacy groups complained to the feds. The feds took a look at the project and were all like, 'Woah, we can't give money to a project that hasn't been thoroughly vetted under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act,' and told BART and the MTC to meet the Title VI requirements by March 5th or give up the money.

BART has pledged to meet the March 5th deadline and proceed with the OAC as planned. But the MTC is really the agency with the right to the money. They could choose to stand with BART and risk losing the money if the feds aren't happy after the deadline. Or they could re-appropriate the money to other regional transit projects so agencies like Muni and AC Transit don't have to make some seriously awful service cuts.

What do you think they should do?
Tell the MTC Commissioners themselves:
Wednesday, January 27
MTC Headquarters
101 Eighth Street, Oakland
More info from Rebecca Saltzman after the jump

What you can do (and it will make a big difference!)
Write MTC on your groups letterhead (messaging below)
Send an alert to all your individual members (text below) and encourage turn out at the Rally for Justice and Jobs on Wednesday at 9am, at MTC (101 8th street, Oakland).
Sign on to our sign on letter (attached)
Call commissioners you have relationships with or who represent you.

Message to MTC:
This has become a disastrous, skeleton of a project. One that is now so expensive and so slow that it is damaging for everyone, BART riders, the airport, jobs, and especially low-income families who can't afford it. This project, if put forward today, wouldn't even pass the laugh test and that is why BART is stonewalling the community and avoiding studying an alternative.

MTC cannot gamble with much needed funding for jobs on a risky airport tram for the elite when regional transit is being cut and jobs lost. It's not worth the risk to the funding or MTC's reputation.

The Ask:
MTC must:
Re-obligate the $70 million in ARRA funds to the region's struggling transit agencies to save jobs and transit NOW.
Require an objective, independent analysis of the alternative the FTA is demanding before allowing any further regional funds being considered for this boondoggle.

Alert Text
The Federal Transit Administration has alerted BART and MTC that $70 million in stimulus funds are being withheld from the Oakland Airport Connector project due to BART's failure to do an civil rights equity analysis on how the project will impact local residents and of an lower-cost alternative. FTA has stated firmly and clearly that these funds are at risk of being lost to the Bay Area!

On Wednesday, January 27th, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will decide whether to gamble on a half-billion dollar airport tram for the elite by continuing to pursue funding for the project, thus risking the loss of $70 million in desperately needed stimulus funds or they can act in the interest of Bay Area Commuters and low-income families and moving the funds to save jobs and transit service for hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents.

Your Action is Needed Now!
Attend the Rally for Justice and Jobs on January 27 and tell MTC to stand up for commuters, low-income families and Bay Area jobs by putting $70 million to Bay Area Transit, not a risky, rinky dink ski-lift to the airport..

Rally for Justice and Jobs Info:
Wednesday, January 27
MTC Headquarters
101 Eighth Street, Oakland

If you can't attend:
Send a letter to MTC telling them not to risk $70 million in jobs creating stimulus funds on a risky OAC project that has been found out of compliance by the FTA. Tell commissioners to save jobs and transit now, by sending an email here (If it's possible, please write your own message, it makes a bigger impact. It can be as short as one or two sentences!):

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