Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thursday's VTA board meeting

Tomorrow the VTA board plans to approve a "full funding" plan for the BART project. That full funding plan only includes the segment to Berryessa (Flea Market), which is the segment that VTA is trying to obtain federal funding for. That "full funding" plan is necessary to release additional funds in Alameda County needed for BART to build a line from the Fremont station to Warm Springs, in which VTA will pick up construction from there on.

Although it may seem like an outcome of the Measure B vote, the Berryessa segment is actually a project that VTA could undertake without Measure B. VTA intentionally delayed in committing a feasible funding plan so that VTA could pretend that they really need the tax. Perhaps Measure B opponents like Rick DiNapoli and Bill Baron were right that the tax was actually to backfill VTA's inefficient operation. Unfortunately, VTA and SVLG was able to deceive voters into believing that VTA is not involved with Measure B and the BART project. They needed to sucker voters who professed to dislike VTA into giving more money to the same agency.

While VTA is certainly the worst transit agency in the country, and that VTA itself deserves a lot of the disaffection, VTA bus and light rail service is no less valuable than other "glamorous" and "popular" transit like Caltrain and BART, especially for those who are transit dependent. It was wrong for VTA to hide itself to sell a project that it has trouble to complete. We cannot neglect the importance of VTA's service and the struggles everyday VTA riders face.

Short Range Transit Plan

Meanwhile, the VTA board is also set to approve a Short Range Transit Plan at the same meeting. Like the same plan last year, VTA is insisting that they will keep the same level of transit service for the next ten years (another unfulfilled 2000 Measure A promise to increase service) and its wage escalation rate at 3.5%. However, the plan this year assumes lower tax revenues because of the current economic downturn. Somehow, to create an illusion that no cuts would be needed, VTA also lowered its operating cost estimates from last year. Finally, VTA is still attaching the 2000 Measure A expenditure plan that was approved in 2006 on this year's SRTP. The 2006 plan assumed a 1/4 percent tax that voters never approved, and was determined by a VTA consultant to be unworkable.

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