Thursday, March 19, 2009

VTA says it can afford BART to Milpitas without federal funds

In response to the lawsuit filed by TRANSDEF over funding for the Warm Springs extension, VTA submitted documents stating that VTA can afford to build BART from Warm Springs to Milpitas without the use of federal funds. 

TRANSDEF sued Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority for illegally allocating local sales tax funds for the Warm Springs project because the local sales tax funding for Warm Springs requires a rail connection to Santa Clara County to be "fully funded." In January, VTA board approved a "full funding" plan for an extension to the Flea Market. However that "full funding" plan assumes $750 million from the federal government, which VTA has yet to apply for, and which the funding is not certain.

VTA staff submitted documents in an attempt to justify the project's "fully funded" status. However that document is not a VTA's board approved policy.

According to the document, the extension to Milpitas costs $1.7 billion. After that project along with a few others, VTA would be left with $720 million (in 2007 dollars) in the 2000 Measure A program.

Also according to the recently released EIS for the project, the total cost from Fremont to Berryessa costs $2.49 billion, which translate to a difference of $738 million for portion between Milpitas and Berryessa. In other words, VTA could afford to build to Berryessa if it wants to without federal funds, and that federal funds would actually be meant to go one more stop beyond Milpitas.

Although VTA could proceed without federal funds, VTA would want those funds anyway so they can start collecting the 1/8 cent Measure B sales tax. Last year's Measure B required matching funds from the federal government to start. Even with the federal funds, VTA cannot afford to build the line through downtown, which would cost an additional $4 billion.

The $1.7 billion project, although affordable, is still way overpriced. The line basically costs more than $300 million per mile, which is five times more expensive than Vasona light rail, the last VTA-built project completed in 2005. Despite the much higher cost, the proposed project would be built largely at grade adjacent to an existing freight track like the Vasona line. In addition, the project is also more expensive per mile than the last BART extension to SFO, which is mostly underground.

Furthermore, the difference in cost for going 3 miles from Milpitas to Berryessa could help pay for light rail extension to Eastridge, Caltrain electrification, and possibly light rail along Santa Clara Street.

Transit advocates do not favor BART because of its unreasonably high cost, and this document clearly shows the trade off. Alternatives exist that would provide the same if not better level of service at a much lower cost, but these brand-obsessed delusionals just couldn't get it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

haha, the judge didn't grant the caltrain loving people an injunction. First 2/3 of santa clara county votes against you, then a judge dismisses you and your friends for trying to find loopholes to stall the project. Face it, most people want this and you don't count anymore than they do. BART does a better job in the bay area. You just don't happen to live close to it, don't travel to the east bay, and want the funding for caltrain on the peninsula.

caltrain: 77.4 miles and 37,849 weekday passengers

BART: 104 miles and 374,949 weekday passengers (that's about 10 times as many passengers)

VTA Watch: 0-2 against BART

note: system length and ridership numbers taken from wikipedia, so they might not be completely accurate but are probably close

accountablevta said...

Washington Metro: 106 miles and 798,456 riders daily (more than double of BART given the same miles)

Drink your Guardino's BART Koolaid. There's no money for BART to Santa Clara no matter what. You lost! Voters are not going to raise another half a penny or more again to feed your downtown delusions for a rail system costing 5 fives more than the next alternative.

BART extension at any distance sucks, but at least an extension to Milpitas or Berryessa would get most of the utility with less harm to local bus service. No matter what, BART to anywhere will be a failure with that kind of price tag. Eventually someone would have to build a new high speed rail on the corridor because BART isn't up to the job.

Actually the real record of us against Guardino is 1 to 1. He lost his favorite 1/2 cent sales tax in 06, which would bring at least twice as much and still wouldn't be enough for your downtown delusion.

accountablevta said...

By the way, good luck on trying to fool the feds for $750 million to get from Milpitas to Berryessa.

295bus said...

Note that "Face it, most people want this and you don't count anymore than they do." is not really an argument about whether it's the right answer. Bush was democratically elected (well once, anyway), and so was Hitler!

BART's total ridership is impressive, but most of it is concentrated in the core SF/Berkeley/Oakland triangle--or at least travel *to* those cities.

Ridership between suburban cities is not nearly so strong.

So what does this predict for hypothetical BART-to-SJ?

First of all, an extension to Milpitas and Warm Springs is likely to be pretty underwhelming.

An extension to downtown would be a bit more useful, but downtown SJ isn't *that* big a travel magnet. And BART really just isn't that fast (for long distances).

BART does a good job in *parts* of the Bay Area. I'm not convinced it would do such a good job in the south bay.