Debate Rages Over Oakland Airport Connector

Metropolitan Transportation Commission to decide whether to give BART funds

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010  |  Updated 2:15 PM PDT
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Debate Rages Over Oakland Airport Connector

Coba, Flickr

Bay Bridge tolls and service cuts could make BART trains more crowded, but the agency is dead-set on spending millions for a slow airport connector.

At a contentious Metropolitan Transportation Committee meeting today, a number of decisions affecting commuters will be made.

The toll increase on the Bay Bridge, including tolls for carpoolers? That's now a done deal, with rush hour tolls set to go up to six dollars with no discount for FasTrak lanes.

Muni is looking for $17 million to close a budget deficit and stave off further service reductions. The Transbay center project is looking for $171 million to build a transit hub that may or may not be a terminus for the planned bullet train.

But the issue on the minds of a lot of activists is whether or not the MTC will approve the Oakland Airport Connector project now that the Federal Transportation Commission has threatened to rescind $70 million of funding toward the estimated half-billion dollar cost.

Transit supporters would prefer that the MTC money set for the project be redistributed to local transit agencies that are struggling to maintain service levels.

The FTC criticized the project's community impact on minorities, as required under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

However, the MTC is expected to provisionally approve the project. San Francisco's representative on the board, Supervisor Chris Daly, suggested to the San Francisco Weekly that "it's difficult to derail this project because it's politically juiced."

BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger has promised the MTC that she's committed to resolving Title VI deficiencies, reports Streetsblog from the packed-to-capacity meeting.

Jackson West would much rather see the MTC money invested in Muni, since the current Oakland airport connection works just fine.

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