This afternoon, the BART Board of Directors voted 7-1 (Radulovich no, Murray absent) to take out a $150m loan to fund the construction of an elevated fixed-guideway transit system to the Oakland airport. Community groups including Genesis, Asian-Pacific Environmental Network, and Urban Habitat, teamed with BART and AC Transit unions and transit advocates to urge the BART Board to adopt a Rapid Bus that would serve workers and businesses along the route and have a lower fare. The arguments from BART staff that a bus just isn’t good enough, and from construction interests urging job creation, apparently swayed the Board. Board President Tom Blalock argued that the community benefit of the flyover connector is increased road capacity on Hegenberger, and BART staff said there was potential for one infill station, but no financial commitments were made. Mr. Blalock also made it clear that the flyover not serving Airport expansion was not BART’s problem. Tom Radulovich, after agreeing with many speakers that BART shouldn’t borrow money for expansion when the core needs of the BART system are underfunded, said that the bus alternative was clearly superior, and characterized the overhead Airport Connector as “blingfrastructure:” ostentatious, expensive, and unnecessary. The Port of Oakland must approve raising $44m from airline ticket fees, and two federal agencies must sign off on aspects before the project receives final approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
If you’d like to learn more about the meeting and the Directors’ comments, please see my Twitter (@dto510), @MaxAllstadt, and @TheBlackHour. Even if you don’t have a twitter account you can subscribe to RSS feeds of my twitter to follow breaking news or my other updates. Living in the O and I will blog when there are further opportunities to advocate for a more cost-effective Airport Connector that better serves East Oakland.