Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nice Try 

San Jose Business Journal | Budget compromise breathes new life into BART funding | 2005-07-11:
The full transportation funding was a big issue for Silicon Valley businesses, which have been vocal in supporting the $4 billion extension of BART to San Jose. Santa Clara County taxpayers will pay for much of the project themselves, but the project also needs $649 million promised by then-governor Gray Davis in 2000.

The VTA is asking for $170 million this year. But the VTA will be competing with 140 other projects for the $678 million in traffic congestion relief funds....
Look carefully at the new life the San Jose Business Journal (BJ) is claiming for the BART project. Under Gray Davis the project was to get nearly $650 million. Now they must compete with 140 other projects for a collective pool of $678 million. Divided evenly between all of them that works out to $4.8 million for the BART extension to San Jose. That is less than 1% of the originally promised state funding.

Even if BART gets all of it, there is still the problem of the lack of federal funding the tax payers were promised would make up the difference between local sales tax, state funding and the true cost of the extension, now estimated by Cipola at $5 billion.

But let's be realistic. The state cannot get away with putting all of its transportation funds into one project--or even two. It will have to help fund a variety of projects, which will reduce significantly what it can contribute to the BART extension.

As positive as the BJ wants to be about the BART project, this just is not enough to save the ill-conceived BART extension.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

VTA's 25 Year Plan MIA 

Update: Eugene Bradley of the VTA Rider's Union pointed me to the new location for the 2030 plan. The blogroll has been updated with the new link location. Thanks Eugene.


VTA recently removed its 2030 Plan site from the Internet. This site was devoted to selling the public on its long range rosey plans for BART and other projects it secretly knows it cannot deliver.

In light of recent events--lack of projected economic recovery, lack of federal and state support for BART, lack of public support for yet another sales tax hike--it is understandable that they would not want something so obviously embarrassing to them to continue to give critics a reason to laugh.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Security Forces 

San Francisco Chronicle | Can they be stopped?:
The VTA has installed digital closed-circuit cameras and satellite tracking devices on more than 300 buses, allowing security forces to quickly respond if a driver radios for help. The VTA also plans to install digital cameras on 80 light-rail cars.

The agency also has a pilot project testing a live 'video-on-demand' system in heavily trafficked light-rail and bus stations, allowing security command workers to constantly scout for potential problems, said Raymond Frank, the VTA's security chief.
I love how these journalists choose their words when describing sheriff's deputies. In the context of international terrorist activity they become Security Forces. Images of at-the-ready military units springing into action come to mind.

Okey dokey.

These are the same Security Forces that can take as long as two hours to respond to incidents of violence on board buses. They are the same ones that, in spite of the GPS tracking system, find it hard to locate buses that aren't moving. That's if the Orbital radio system that was supposed to solve all of VTA's field communication problems happens to be working. How often does it go down? Does it surprise anyone anymore when it does?

These professionals are on the move, ready for anything. And they are there to help. Yah, right! They are good after-the-fact evidence gatherers, arriving only when the dust settles, questioning the veracity of events as described by the driver. They excel at identifying graffiti "artists", at tracking down vandals and making sure everyone knows they are in charge.

These are the anti-terrorist Security Forces that Ray Frank calls Security Command Workers. Give me a break!

Friday, July 01, 2005

VTA Defies Grand Jury 

The Dispatch | Report shows Grand Jury recommendations implemented
Of the 75 recommendations, 36 had already been adopted and agencies promised to adopt another 14. Sixteen of the recommendations were rejected, including major changes to the board of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which disagreed with all of the findings of the jury’s controversial report.
Like we couldn't see that coming! VTA operates not only in defiance of the Grand Jury, but defies reality.

It comes as no surprise that the apostles comprising the board feel it is too much to give up the power they have over the funds VTA receives. The financial benefits of improving San Jose's big city image by bringing BART to San Jose are too enticing. So are the political advantages of having business support for the future ambitions of its members.

The blindness to upward spiraling costs this creates when their rigidity forces them to spend billions of dollars on a BART extension that benefits only them has left Santa Clara County with a transportation system that will continue declining. VTA will be bilked of hundreds of millions of dollars and its work force screwed again, simply for political ambition and improved public perception.