Tuesday, February 13, 2007

BART and SamTrans are finally getting a divorce

Key highlights from an op-ed written by Sue Lempert, San Mateo County representative on the MTC:

When the extension started losing money, SamTrans was vulnerable.Continued payments to cover the deficit -- $5 million to $10 million a year -- would ultimately destroy the bus system. Hence, divorce and, of course, alimony. Alimony payments to BART will include $30 million of San Mateo County's Measure A transportation tax which voters renewed in 2004. This has already been approved...

In addition, SamTrans is expected to give BART a portion of its State Transit Assistance (STA), which amounts to approximately $800,000 annually and $32 million from its share of Proposition 1B transit funds. BART will take over operation of the system and responsibility for covering all costs. SamTrans will be off the hook for the extension...

The details of the "divorce settlement" is available here. As a part of the agreement between BART, SamTrans, and MTC, BART will receive a total of $54 million from the Prop 1B funds that can be used for the SFO extension as well as the planned extension to Warm Springs, a wasteful and necessary component for VTA to extend BART further south.

There are lots of lessons to be learned when rail extensions were built on phony promises. At the end, transit riders will determine the success of failure of a new rail lines, not the politicians or lobbyists like SVLG and San Jose Downtown Association. They can spend millions on tax campaigns and consultants, yet build a system that too few riders want to spend money to ride everyday.

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