(Cross posted at Living in the O.)
Disclosure: I am working on a part time, short term basis for TransForm on the Oakland Airport Connector campaign. However, the thoughts expressed in my posts on this subject are my own and should not be construed to be those of TransForm.
You hopefully have already noted that the MTC hearing on the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) is tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10am, but you might not know about the nationwide transportation day of action on which the hearing coincidentally falls. Several advocacy groups will be joining together to hold a mock funeral to mourn the loss of transit lines in the Bay Area due to lack of funding for operations. After the funeral, advocates will march to the MTC hearing to urge them not to provide further funding to the OAC.
Though the timing of these two events is coincidental, they are tied together quite closely. While the state and federal government have been slashing operating funds, the stimulus bill has pumped tons of money into capital improvements for transportation. So while BART and MTC may end up wasting more than half a billion dollars on the OAC, including $70 million in stimulus funds, BART, AC Transit, and Muni are slashing service and raising fares.
It's time we get our priorities straight, not only by prioritizing public transit over highway expansion, but also by prioritizing operations funding within transit funding. What is the use of a shiny new bus if we can't afford to pay someone to drive it? What is the use of an extension to the Oakland Airport that will only draw 400 new riders a day, when it will suck funding from the entire BART system?
Please attend the funeral tomorrow to mourn public transit losses and then head over to the MTC meeting to win back some of this transit funding by halting funding to the OAC.
Here is the info, via a press release from Public Advocates:
WHAT: Wearing black and carrying a coffin, transit advocates will stage a mock funeral to mourn the death of crucial public transit lines in the Bay Area due to a lack of funding for operations. The event is tied to a National Day of Action called by Transit Riders for Public Transportation (TRPT), a national campaign led by environmental justice and civil rights groups, to highlight the need to provide funding for transit operations in the Federal Surface Transportation Authorization Act currently being considered in the US House of Representatives.
WHEN: Wednesday July 22, 2009 8:30am-9:30am
WHERE: Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612 (Corner of 14th St. and Broadway, outside of the 12St/Oakland City Center BART station)
WHO: Representatives from Public Advocates Inc.; Urban Habitat; TransForm; Genesis; CALPIRG; and BOSS. John Gioia, Supervisor for Western Contra Costa County; Dominique Nisperos reading a statement from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. A number of other elected officials have been invited.
WHY: With transit service cuts affecting people locally and around the nation, operating funds for public transit are sorely needed. Federal legislation offers the best current hope for preventing further service cuts in our communities. Representatives Barbara Lee (D, CA-9th) and Jerry McNerney (D, CA-11th) are co-sponsoring HR 2746 (Rep. Carnahan, D, MO-3rd) which would give local transit systems the flexibility to use anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of their federal capital grants for local operations. Event organizers are calling on other members of the Bay Area congressional delegation to sign onto the bill and advocate for dedicating federal funds specifically for transit operations in any new federal transportation legislation.
And the info for the MTC meeting:
What: MTC Meeting on Oakland Airport Connector Funding
When: Wednesday, July 22nd @ 10 am
Where: MTC Headquarters (101 Eighth St near Lake Merritt BART)
Previous posts on the Oakland Airport Connector:
- 7/17/09: Oakland Public Works Committee strongly questions Oakland Airport Connector
- 6/29/09: It’s time for the City Council to weigh in on the Oakland Airport Connector
- 6/16/09: Don Perata on Oakland Airport Connector: “Too much money for too little transit”
- 5/29/09: Oakland Airport Connector now in the hands of the Port Commission
- 5/13/09: BART staff coordinate Oakland Airport Connector astroturf campaign
- 5/8/09: Take Action: Turn Oakland Airport Connector into RapidBART
- 4/27/09: Advocates secure temporary win on the Oakland Airport Connector
- 4/22/09: BART’s brilliant plant for financing the Oakland Airport Connector
- 2/23/09: Protect Bay Area Transit: Stop MTC from Wasting Stimulus Funds