Sunday, April 03, 2005

FTA's new recommendation and San Jose/VTA's response

FTA's recent letter expressed its intention to raise the cost effectiveness score to medium in order to receive federal funds.

This is the response from Gonzales on FTA's letter.

Essentially, FTA is saying that it needs a minimum of C grade to pass the class, and that Gonzales is protesting the shift because VTA is working hard to get a D grade.

If this project were cost effective, the change in minimum score should have no impact, just as a A grade student would pass the class no matter what.

In the past FTA has suggested VTA to phase the extension, a practice that all other transit agencies, including even VTA, for rail projects. Gonzales stubborness against phasing is one of the reasons why VTA is where it is right now in the eyes of FTA.

An article in today's Mercury News covered the story on the differences between FTA and VTA over the cost effectiveness score, and also covered SVLG's effort to get another sales tax passed. It is important to note that because SVLG is a sponsor of the tax, any polls done by that group is biased and is geared toward promoting the tax. SVLG's pollster will likely go over the pro-VTA tax talking points before getting a response whether to support or oppose.

Perhaps these arguments should make voters to think again:

-VTA over estimated BART ridership. For instance, BART extension to SFO opened in 2003 has far fewer riders than estimated, and required SamTrans, the local bus agency, to pay for BART operation.

-If VTA chose to phase the BART project at least to Milpitas and connect to light rail, there's no need for the tax increase for now and the initial phase would at least open 5 to 10 years earlier than if the project were to be built as a whole.

-The Santa Clara county Grand Jury found VTA as unaccountable and needs reform.

-Caltrain's Baby Bullet has already achieved a service and speed that BART cannot match, and it costs pennies to the dollar on construction and operation compared to BART.

More talking points later...

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