Tuesday, March 2, 2010

FTA has withdrawn $70 million in federal stimulus funds from BART

Why? Due to the lack of Equity Analysis which is a civil rights violation.

These $70 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds to BART were allocated to fill a gap in its proposed half-billion dollar, 3.2 mile connection to the Oakland International Airport.

"The complaint alleged that the lack of stops and the high fare excluded low-income riders and riders of color from the benefits of the project, and that this exclusion violated not only Title VI, but also U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Environmental Justice Order."
Planetizen's article titled Transportation Victory for Social Equity includes this telling section:

FTA Investigates and Requires Corrective Action

FTA accepted the complaint and conducted an on-site investigation, both of the Airport Connector project and of BART's wider Title VI compliance. In a January 15 letter to BART and MTC, Administrator Peter Rogoff concluded that the complaint’s allegations were true. He put BART and MTC on notice that FTA would withhold the $70 million in ARRA funds unless BART could quickly provide an adequate plan to FTA to correct multiple deficiencies, including the missing equity analysis. BART submitted two drafts of its plan, and Public Advocates submitted lengthy comments on each to FTA, noting numerous deficiencies.

Administrator Rogoff's February 12 follow-up letter to BART and MTC stated "I am required to reject your plan. Given the fact that the initial Title VI complaint against BART was well founded, I am not in a position to award the ARRA funds to BART while the agency remains out of compliance." Rogoff further wrote "It is imperative that BART, as a recipient of FTA funds, come fully into compliance with Title VI as soon as possible."

Where is Honolulu rail's Equity Analysis?
Recall that the main plan for Honolulu rail is to terminate all express buses and other parallel bus lines and replace them by rail. This will reduce accessibility for many and particularly for the poor dramatically.
The grounds for another lawsuit are quite substantial.

If you doubt this, then hear Gary Okino talk about buses, as recently as February 18, 2010 on PBS-Hawaii Insights where he proudly announced that buses will be deleted in the direction parallel to the rail and will be added as feeders in the direction perpendicular to the rail.

With this plan, overall accessibility suffers, large amounts of time are spent on inconvenient transfers and labor costs pile up for operating and maintaining two systems, one of which, the rail, is really targeted for white collar professionals who like to do wi-fi in train while the poor lose the valuable accessibility of the bus service.

Let's also recall that
HOT Lanes is the biggest friend to express bus operations. Express buses that collect commuters from Makakilo, Ewa, Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Waipahu, Waipio and Mililani can be provided access to freeway shoulder lanes to avoid the mainline bumper-to-bumper traffic until the H-1/H-2 merge then hop onto the HOT lanes and arrive at Airport, Kalihi, Iwilei and downtown withing 8 to 12 minutes. No train can beat this performance and no train can beat the 1/4 cost of 10 miles of HOT Lanes.