Tuesday, April 02, 2013

BRT in the Eastbay: $18.7 million a mile


Transportation projects in the Bay Area are about money and jobs, not sensible plans for moving people. Matier and Ross provide some numbers on the BRT project in the east bay: the project has already spent $14.4 million on "planning," it will cost $18.7 million a mile, and the total cost will be $178 million. (Typically these big projects go way over budget):

Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, whose district includes a large stretch of International[Boulevard], said he was "very reluctant" to support the project, given all the complaints he heard from local businesses. But in the end, he said, he sided with unions that had backed his effort to build a BART connector to Oakland International Airport and wanted the new bus line because of the construction and other jobs it promised.

Another dumb, overpriced project supported by the unions because it creates jobs. Sound familiar? Recall Reid's costly BART connector project that was deemed too big to stop once it was underway. The unions support the Central Subway because of the jobs, not because it's a sensible transportation project. Ditto for the ruinously expensive high-speed rail project. The unions don't care if it threatens to bankrupt the State of California and wastes billions of dollars, because it's about money and jobs for their membership. The great 20th Century movement for justice for working people is now just another hog at the public trough.

Since the Feds are picking up $78 million of the cost, it's deemed a good deal by the governing class. More from Matier and Ross:

As for the costs, the feds have agreed to pick up the tab, leaving locals on the hook for $100 million. So far, local officials have identified $65 million in bridge toll money and another $11.1 million from an Alameda County transportation sales tax---leaving them $24 million short. Former AC[Transit] General Manager (and ex-county Supervisor,  Mary King, now a public relations consultant...said the deal was worth it. "The way the federal dollars were flowing, you go after what you can get," King said.

The anti-car folks like this project because it will eliminate a lot of parking. Sound familiar? Businesses in the east bay are not so enthusiastic:

But even the scaled-back project is being greeted skeptically by a number of merchants along International Boulevard, who worry both about disruptions once construction starts next year and about the loss of parking.

Don't those merchants read Streetsblog? If they did they would understand that eliminating parking near their shops is good for business!
The feds are picking up half the cost of the Central Subway, too:

 
And the feds are supposedly going to provide billions more for the state's dumb high-speed rail project, though in reality that's very unlikely. The fact that the feds are pouring money into these projects only encourages unions and politicians to waste local and state money on bad projects.

It's encouraging that San Leandro and Berkeley both rejected the east bay BRT project. Recall that this project was/is supported by the anti-car group, Transform, and MTA board member, Joel Ramos.

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