BART Plans for Oakland Airport Train Possibly Derailed

Federal government cites lack of study on minority community impact

By Jackson West
|  Thursday, Jan 21, 2010  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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BART Plans for Oakland Airport Train Possibly Derailed

Shea Hazarian

BART stands to lose over 10 percent of the money it needs for its half-billion-dollar Airport Connector boondoggle.

After months of local controversy couldn't stop a project to connect BART to the Oakland Airport, a strongly worded letter from the Federal Transit Administration might.

The FTA said that BART's reports on the project failed to take into account provisions of the Civil Rights Act that require federally funded projects don't discriminate.

If BART doesn't come up with a study within six weeks allaying the FTA's concerns about higher ticket prices and a lack of stops serving the community between the station and the airport, it could lose $70 million in funding, leaving it short of the $522 million estimated for the project.

Public-transit advocacy groups filed a complaint with the FTA, and have lobbied against the project as a waste of the agency's money amidst region-wide fare increase and service cutbacks by local transit operators.

The airport connector plans as they stand will have trains running slower than the speed limit on nearby surface streets, with no stops between the BART station and airport and with tickets likely costing twice as much.

In a statement from BART, the agency vows to work with the FTA, and argues that the project is the type of shovel-ready, job-creating transit expansion that federal stimulus funding was intended for.

Jackson West figures the community could use faster service, and later hours, than it could a slow, expensive connection to the Oakland airport.

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