On to the Future

Well the consultants and pundits are receding into the background, thankfully. It is now time to check the battlefield for casualties and then look at options for the future.

Paramount to our valley, the path to mass transit is very bumpy in our valley. The excruciating narrowness of the loss of the BART sales tax measure is something that will not soon be forgotten by the losers—Mayor Chuck Reed, Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and rising star Sam Liccardo laid it, and all, on the line. And in an incredibly close miss, they saw the hopes of a complete BART system dashed—for now.

When Governor Alf Landon was asked how he felt about his landslide loss to FDR, he responded, “Son, you don’t lose much sleep second guessing, when you only win Maine and Vermont!” The proponents of BART are now in that tough position of wondering what they could have done differently for a few more votes. And: what now?

First, and I believe obvious, is the fact that in these tough economic times, very little, probably nothing, could have changed the dynamic. The campaign was as well-run and enthusiastic as humanly possible.
It was a fantastic effort, thwarted.

It is time for a total reassessment of BART. To just run BART to Berryessa, the Old Flea Market, would be both foolish and costly. Other plans, other options, are necessary, including a look a the current route that totally misses our job-rich North San Jose Industrial base. We should look at how the project can really serve San Jose State University and our Downtown and also how to make sure that we maximize the dollars and demand efficiency from VTA. It is time.

On the positive side, the recent election gave us a President who knows and cares about cities and the value of this unique valley—much can come from those two salient facts. It gave us a new hospital that will server our citizens well. It preserved needed resources for the San Jose City budget and these will be desperately needed to keep our city livable.

And on the new-faces front, it gave us two new supervisors and two new Council members. Let us hope that they are diligent and sensible— I have high hopes for all four. We will be needing a lot of solid judgments from these four in the future.

40 Comments

  1. Greg – I understand the frustration and the comments c. VTA – sure there are many screw ups in that operation, but I just hate to see any opportunity for San Jose and this Valley lost. I had many questions about the financing, the route chosen,  the management, and the distinct chance that this project would destroy the village (Downtown and its neighborhoods) to save it!  Nevertheless, I swallowed all that and cast my vote for the future. I would commend Guardino and the SVLG as courageous and dutiful, not condemn some failure to release a poll. Oh, and there may not be a ‘next’ time. TMcE

  2. Tom writes: “It is time for a total reassessment of BART.” Well, duh.

    The pro-BART side had all of the heavy hitters and outspent opponents by about a zillion to one. Despite that, there are numerous flaws in the current plan that they stubbornly refused to address, preferring to harass the opponents in court over ballot arguments, most of which the judge upheld. And our wonderful local media was in the tank for BART, refusing to cover a debate on the subject.

    But you can’t put lipstick on a pig. The VTA-proposed BART route misses the valley’s job centers. It has too much expensive tunneling. It misses the airport, requiring an expensive “people mover” to make that missing connection.

    It’s time to go back to the drawing board and come up with a solution that can be paid for with the existing sales tax revenue.

  3. Tom, it’s better to see a bad “opportunity” lost than billions spent on a giant white elephant. VTA needs to come up with a cost effective plan that lies within existing sales tax revenue and doesn’t short change the rest of the projects that they promised us in 2000. And the grossly misnamed “Silicon Valley Leadership Group” is part of the problem, not the solution.

  4. The opportunity isn’t lost.  We still have a sales tax that will bring in over 4 billion dollars over the next 28 years.

    If VTA is willing to seriously tackle their own inefficiency problems, there will be more.

    4 to 5 billion dollars can buy an awful lot.  My candidate would be to use the local money to attract prop 1A money, and build high speed rail (& fast commuter trains) up both sides of the bay.

  5. Greg:

    Measure B was estimated to generate $50.6 million beginning in 2013, increasing to $60.1 million by 2017, the first year of BART operations, and increasing thereafter by about $2.7 million a year. The total operating cost of BART in 2017 was estimated at $113.8 million. VTA estimated that $61 million would come from fare box recovery (FBR) which equates to something like 57% FBR. By contrast VTA buses have a FBR of between 12 – 15%. Light Rail is something like 8%. The BART FBR was based on 100,000 riders a day. There are currently 23,000 employees in all of downtown SJ, including SJSU. If BART did not achieve these numbers VTA (and not BART) would have to pay any deficiencies.

    VTA, like the State and Federal governments, does not have a revenue problem, but rather a spending problem. Mike Burns is a very capable CEO and he has a very talented staff. I also believe they know what to do, but are hamstrung by the previous administrations decisions. What they need now, is the support of business, the community at large and the political courage from city hall to implement the efficiencies so we can have BART, without new taxes, and a fully operational transit system.

  6. Tom – You are absolutely correct in suggesting that the loss of Measure B gives VTA a chance to re-think some of the problems inherent in the route. The question is: will they?

    I voted for B, but with reservations. It makes no sense that the route bypasses both the airport and the most job-rich areas of the city. While they’re at it, VTA should determine how much could be saved by dropping plans to run BART underground. I’m told that above-ground or elevated rail options have never been considered, which makes no sense.

  7. Regarding the route: I was skeptical at first because of the jobs issue. We know DTSJ is not the employment center of the region, but public transit could not efficiently serve something so sprawled as the north valley. One side has to make the first move in the consolidation of jobs downtown. We can’t simply tell private companies to relocate, but we could certainly entice them with transit. This impasse solves nothing.

  8. Tom,

    I understand why you and need to be nice to SVLG as they represent valley ceo’s, but can you honestly conclude it was a good campaign?

    The hospital bond got 78 percent of the vote?

    Seems to me that the BART campaign created a lot of enemies in the process and never did the coalition building that the hospital did.

    I voted against the measure because of the Chamber’s opposition.

  9. Tom,
    Myself included many whom I know and discuss this with, from Monterey to Palo Alto, don’t trust the leadership group.
    Sad that this is the case.
    It looks too much like a puppet on a string.
    Much potential is being wasted with hot air.

    *Innovation is always spurred from outside the controlling group.

  10. Rick (#6),

    Thanks for the stats.  If the voting public understands that your numbers are representative of the true situation, I think it will be a cold day in Hell before VTA gets more funding for anything, including pencils!

  11. Nam #8-  The theory of building transit to attract business has already been tried in San Jose.  We spent many hundreds of millions of dollars on light rail, bypassing the train station in order to include downtown.

    It didn’t work.

  12. Gee, Greg, and because of Dunkerque, the Allies lost World War Two – right?  You are not getting a good grade from me in logic on this one. Downtown is a priority to the entire reason and an asset – when that has been forgotten in this valley, bad things have happened.  I know you can do better.  TMcE

  13. You’re Welcome Greg. These numbers came right from VTA and are what the VTA board used in giving the Measure B campaign the green light.

    Those of us who opposed Measure B on principle were highly skeptical of the numbers, particularly the 57% FBR. It was likely that if Measure B passed and construction of BART proceeded, VTA would ask the taxpayers for more money due to overly rosy revenue/expense and FBR estimates – as has happened in the past.

    VTA spending reform is the best way to insure BART comes to SJ. All they need is the political will to accomplish it.

  14. Winnie,
    The SJ Chamber did not oppose BART.  In fact, their Board of Directors overwhelmingly supported Measure B.  You may be referring to an op ed piece written by a few vocal Chamber Board members, but they were not speaking on behalf of the Chamber.

  15. Mr Perry,

    1: Light rail goes to the north valley and serves those job “centers” (hardly centralized) anyway.

    2: Light rail is neither rapid nor (consequently) ideal.

    3. BART could be viewed as building on top of existing lines. Light rail does not work by itself, but it may as part of a larger system.

    4. BART has a much, much larger catchment area.

    I’m just shining a positive light on the issue, not saying these are fully solid arguments. I was pretty divided on it myself, but voted Yes because of the potential and not just with hope of solving current problems.

  16. When SVMG changed its name to SVLG I emailed Carl G to the effect that the new name was lame, and untrue.  Just who is it that Carl thinks he is leading?  It just seems like an arrested development version of the high school A-list clique.

    They have their own agenda, and it ain’t mine; nor is it the agenda of most folks in SJ, I suspect.  And if Carl had the numbers in his “survey”, why did he not release them? 

    I was quite surprised that the measure barely failed, in light of the fact that VTA would be running the show, that VTA is a black hole for money and its inefficiencies are legion, and that the proposed route bypasses major job and residential in NSJ, and the disruption of downtown by the west coast big dig would kill dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses.  OH, and let’s not forget the inevitable cost overruns and highly inflated/unrealistic ridership projections.

    Certainly, SJ downtown interests such as the McE family holdings and others would prefer a downtown route.  But isn’t a downtown SJ presence enough, as long as it ends up downtown, then north to SC?  But it needs to pass through our new and improved downtown-to-be in NSJ.

    If Rick #6 is correct and the total jobs in DTSJ are only 23k, DTSJ should not be driving this boat.

    And 100k riders/day is as ridiculous a prediction as were the trolley ridership predictions.

    SVLG spent a ton of $$ trying to bamboozle us, to no avail.

    If BART is to get here in our lifetimed, everyone needs to rethink the route, the management entity, and the funding sources.  We’ve been lied to except for the original Measure A that Will Kempton ran.

  17. BART as an Investment Opportunity.
    San Jose is on its way to becoming an elegant lady and joining her sister cities as a world-class play to live, work, and play. San Jose’s greatest benefit from the extension of BART to Downtown is to establish a new playing field for the next round of development. Emerging markets catering to the internet-savvy “creative thinkers” need urban living and work spaces that don’t require auto use. San Jose has made some positive investments in providing the mass transit infrastructive to meet this need. It has also chosen to dress up its Downtown with public art and beautiful parks. New showcase commercial and residential building projects are going up that may eventually establish a “sense of place” in Downtown. Unfortunately, not having the BART tunnel and its three architecturally wonderful underground stations wrap around Downtown is like our elegant lady not having her jewel necklace ready for her big debut.

  18. Tom,

    Regarding what the BART proponents could have done to garner a few more votes, maybe I overlooked it but was a business plan ever made available to the voters? 

    I would have found it immensely helpful to have had insight into the revenues, costs and cash flows of the construction project, as well as the completed line to SJ.  That, along with the assumptions relative to ridership, fares and fare box recovery could have changed my vote to a “yes.”

    I think most of us know that the VTA has an abysmal track record in managing our existing transportation infrastructure… capital funds used for ongoing operations, the lowest fare box recovery of any major city in the country (13 cents on the dollar?), etc.

    Neither did it help that the SVLG polled voters and touted BART to SJ as a winner based upon the poll, yet never released details to the public.

    All in all, the campaign was too much “smoke and mirrors” for me.  Maybe next time, there will be more clarity and less emotion.

  19. JMO’Connor – wrong as usual on the “McEnery holdings”, property so vast that you can ride from dawn to sunset and not reach its limits – look, John, we don’t own property, we manage and assist a group of businesses run by real people, small businesses, and if you think BART would be good for SPSQ, you are very incorrect. But it would be a great asset for the city – LONG TERM – and that’s how you build a city. I guess you better run for Council again and put some of these many ideas you have in action. Talking and blogging is easy: try action, JM – get in the Arena.  TMcE

  20. #5 G.P.,
    It pains me to say this, but I actually agree with you.  Like Mr. McEnery stated, the idea of bringing BART just to Berryessa is a foolish one.  Why not look into dedicating the 2000 Measure A BART funding into an East Bay high-speed rail line (along with Prop. 1A bonding); with a BART/HSR intermodal station at Warm Springs?  Funding could also be geared to the proposed Altamont high-speed commuter overlay.  Talk about making downtown San Jose/Diridon Station the transit hub of Northern California; our version of London’s St. Pancras International train station!  I loved the idea of a BART subway downtown, but if it absolutely can’t happen, let’s look at the high-speed rail option now.  (call me a “flip flopper” if you please, but there’s nothing wrong with changing one’s mind)

  21. Even after the Measure B defeat, it’s funny to see how both sides are unable to have a meaningful debate, because they can’t agree on the terms of the debate. The Pro-BART people say “Mass Transit is a Good Idea.” The Anti-BART people say: “It’s too expensive.” The Pro-Bart people never respond to the anti-Bart argument, and, at least from what I’ve seen, never provide a meaningful quantifiable success metric for Bart. I have seen nothing which says: This amount is a good deal, this amount would be a bad deal. As a result, fairly or not, the Pro-Bart team looks like they want a blank check. The Pro-Bart guys need to argue their point with more businesslike clarity and data and not broad generalizations if they want to move forward, imho.

  22. If people want BART then why do they not present a proposal that actually works. 

    A proposal that actually benefits the people paying for it; the Santa Clara County taxpayers.  A proposal that actually removes cars from local highways.  A proposal that lets a Santa Clara resident use BART for commuting, and other travel.

    For my vote, BART has to first be extended down the West side of the Bay, connecting San Jose and San Francisco, along with the job rich cities in between.  Then it can continue up the East side of the Bay to complete the circle.

    Building the least useful extension first makes no sense, and I cannot support that.

  23. On a loosely related note, why don’t any of those proposed auto bailout dollars go to public transit works instead? Let’s take their downfall as a sign of the future, shall we?

  24. If it weren’t for the outright and rank corruption of the SVLG and its friends—who have consistently and exclusively put MAXIMUM PROFITS FOR PARSONS BRINKERHOFF, in the form of a 100% duplicative, 100% unnecessary, 0% technology-appropriate, 300% overpriced 1970s-urban-subway ahead of any form of public interest—we might be in this position:

    * The California High Speed Rail Authority (which not coincidentally has let out its biggest and most politically significant contracts to Mike Burn’s, Carl Guardino’s and Quentin Kopp’s Extra Special Friends at PBQD) would have chosen the least environmentally disruptive, highest ridership, least cost, least construction risk, highest regional benefit, and GREATEST SAN JOSE BENEFIT Northern California HSR routing from the Central Valley via Tracy, Livermore and Fremont to San Jose via Milpitas, Trimble/First and San Jose AIrport.

    The environmental community would be fully behind the program, rather than suing to undo the rank, contractor-welfare corruption of the routing.

    * With nearly $10 billion of bond slush in the bank, CHSRA would be in the position of funding significant starter lines in Northern and Southern California.

    SoCal has its act together and will be building a line with huge regional benefit.

    If our local “leaders” weren’t so corrupt and stupid, we’d also be in that position: CHSRA’s first construction segment in the state would have been to link San Jose with Fremont and connect to BART.

    Note: CALIFORNIA HIGH SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY could have built the line.  The only think VTA would be on the financial hook for would be operating costs for the line and the trains to run on it, which could readily and easily be funded out of existing taxes, which NOT illegally and unethically and unprofessionally cannibalizing existing services, and while NOT illegally and unethically and unprofessionally defunding existing promises (bus service increases, Caltrain electrictation, Dumbarton rail, light rail extensions, etc.)

    Making maximal use of state-wide funding, and maximizing the use of expensive infrastructure built at taxpayer expense, we’d have killed two very large and expensive birds with one stone: we’d have completed Fremont-San Jose rail (complete with “Golden Triangle” and direct airport service, and avoiding nose-bleed-level expense and construction digging up Santa Clara downtown) AND we’d have set the stage for direct, fast and environmentally beneficial San Jose-Livermore, San Jose-Stockton, San Jose-Sacramento and San Jose-Los Angeles rail service.

    What could there possibly be NOT to like about this … other than that PBQD/Wong, Bechtel, Tutor-Saliba and other Special Friends don’t get to spend fout times as much money as necessary, essentially paying to build two low-quality, low-utility rail lines to San Jose (1970s-era BART and routed-through-the-middle-of-absolutely-NOWHERE Pacheco Pass HSR, and then inevitably coming back to build Altamont rail later when the first stage tanks, just like their BART-to-SFO scam tanked) instead of one buliding one highly optimized, high-quality, global-best-practice (eg Spain, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, China, Sweden, …) multi-use, high-capacity rail line from Fremont to San Jose.

    * We’d then be lining up the next stages of the Northern California HSR line, east from Fremont to Livermore and west from Fremont to Redwood City, building new and desperately needed REGIONAL systems in active COORDINATION with a state-wide high-speed transportation plan of national significance.

    But instead we have the PROVEN FAILURES at VTA and SVLG attempting to work out how to keep the cash flowing to their friends (note: over $100 MILLION has disappeared into the pockets of VTA-BART contractors so far, with nothing of any value to show for it!!!) in such a way that the public gets the shortest end of the stick.

    Rather than maximizing expense—and if you thought BART to Santa Clara via the parking-lot-wasteland-retail-poverty-thanks-Santana-Row-that-is-downtown-San-Jose was a cost/benefit catastrophe, you haven’t seen anything compared to BART to Flea Market via auto factory—wouldn’t this be a good time to kick proven planning failures Kopp and Guardino and Diridon to the curb on the intimately interlinked HSR Pacheco Pass and BART to Flea Market fiascos and instead think about what might be best for the economic health and vitality of the reisdents of taxpayers of San Jose, Santa Clara County and California?

    It can be done.  It’s not hard to do—just look at what the Spaniards and Chinese are doing.  All it needs is some rationality, some token interest in public benefit, and a desire to SOLVE PROBLEMS (how do we satisfy the following transportation and environmental problems?) rather than to SPOUT SLOGANS (“BART good.  BART Good.  Other choo choo bad.  Bad bad.”)

    So what’s it going to be?
    One guess!

  25. Quentin:

    Your post makes lots of sense, which is why today’s Merc has a story about how VTA is refusing to think outside the box, proposing instead to simply to build a portion of the line now and come back and ask for more money later to finish the expensive, poor route into San Jose/Santa Clara.

  26. Of the pro-Measure B folks I ever talked to about this project, they all thought that the BART extension would be useful thing for someone else, not for their own needs/choices.

    Furthermore, if anyone in the south bay is that hell-bent on syncing up with BART via transit, they can—today—either take the express VTA bus to Fremont or take CalTrain to the fabulous multimodal station that was recently built in Millbrae, at great expense, for the very purpose of linking up these two mighty rail systems. 

    We need to get out of our cars but that doesn’t mean spending more billions to subsidize long-distance commuting. Work near your home. Get a bike. Spend more time with your kids and enjoying life, and stop all this ridiculous waste of time and resources on commuting.

  27. Quentin, the Altamont route was no less disruptive and hardly beneficial to San Jose. It would have cut service with the branched routes. The bay crossing would have compromised wetlands there and been much more expensive, requiring a bridge. The route we have will allow for Caltrain improvements, too. That basically addresses many of these people who seem to think we need BART down the peninsula to reach many job-rich areas in a more timely fashion.

  28. Today’s Mercury News article is interesting for another reason.  The VTA general manager announced that the agency would press ahead with a truncated BART line, without bothering to ask the board of directors.

    Not only did he not ask the board of directors, but he cancelled the meeting at which the board was to have discussed the topic.  (It was to have been tomorrow)

    Apparently all that public input would have been inconvenient.  This is not what I’d hoped for when Reed was elected.  It’s just as bad as the tricks Gonzales used to pull.

  29. One advantage of the Altamont route for HSR is that a future extension to Sacramento would cost less, and it would be a reasonable alternative for Bay Area-Sacramento trips.

  30. The question for our county isn’t really Altamont versus Pacheco. 

    It’s whether we get moving with High Speed Rail to Fremont, or we spend billions of dollars on half a BART train.

  31. @ #9 NamTurk in Eastside [part 1]

    > Altamont route was no less disruptive and hardly beneficial to San Jose.

    Disruptive?  Like tearing up downtown San Jose for years in support of a subway nobody needs?  (Of course would anybody notice?  I feel like I could use the sidewalks as a bowling alley and not hit any pedestrians, be they workers of shoppers.)  A number of of my friends lived in San Francisco during and through BART construction in the 1970s, and anybody today can see that mid-Market is still a pit that has never recovered.

    And as for disruption, how about a program of UNNECESSARY quadrupling of the Caltrain line all the way from the Monterey Highway in the deep south up through MV, PA, Menlo Park, and all the other residential downs in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, all in support of a never-to-be-realized plan of 125mph(!!!!) service right in people’s literal back yards.  That’s nuts!

    Higher practical average speeds to SJ and faster trips to the whole rest of the state would have been possible via Altamont and the the more industrial lands of southern Alameda County and north Milpitas.  (Caltrain can easily do with a much smaller, much less disruptive and much more focused quadrupling just in the Redwood City to San Mateo area if high speed trains aren’t gumming up the entire line from end to end, but only entering at the mid-point northwards and right in SJ southwards.)

    And how about an unncessary and disruptive high speed line between Gilroy and Fresno, with no stations at all, serving nobody, when we could instead have been running to real places like Milpitas, Fremont, past Bishop Ranch, to Pleasanton, Livermore, Tracy and Stockton, all at less cost and with less eye-wateringly-expensive and risk-prone tunneling?

    > It would have cut service with the branched routes.

    Again, it would be good if people looked at SOLVING PROBLEMS rather than SPOUTING SLOGANS.

    How come nobody spouting on about “branched routes”—and these are obviously not people who have ever ridden BART, which branches at MacArthur Station about a hundred times a day, with no travel time penalty for riders, with almost perfect reliability, nor people who have ever ridden real high speed train service in Japan or Germany or elsewhere, where a majority of trains are routed directly to where the riders wish to travel, and where what transfers are needed with convenience and reliability—ever consider the fact that you and I will never have service between San Jose and Livermore, and will never have service between San Jose and Sacramento?

    It’s easy to regurgitate a sound-bit you heard somewhere about “branches” until you THINK for an instant and understand that this means you can’t build a transportation network and can’t serve most markets.  The world isn’t one-dimensional, folks,—at least the world outside the Guardino-must-fund-BART-must-fund-BART-must-fund-BART-must-fund-BART axis isn’t one-dimensional—and neither are train services out there in the real world.

    Fact is San Jose would have more and better train service via Altamont, without express trains bypassing our downtown station at speed heading to Satanic San Francisco, without trains arriving from SF with most of the seats already occupied, and with a high speed commuter train heading to Fremont every 10 minutes or less (hey, even the BRITISH can do it, with commuter trains starting up domestic service on their high speed line at the end of this year!), and with high speed service to and from Sacramento.

    Without branches, all you ever get is what some call a “flight level zero airline”—all the expense, all the inconvenience, and none of the flexibility of a regional rail network.  Nice work if you’re being paid to pour the concrete, but as dismal way to run an economy.

    But as we see, SLOGANS (“BART, baby, BART”, “NO new branches!”) outweigh practical consideration of benefits.

    There’s nothing I’d like to see more than better transportation service to San Jose, and there was no better way to do this than to build Fremont-SJ service on somebody else’s dime while keeping our own, incredibly scarce and dwindling revenues for the many many other projects that we need, that we were promised, and that we were already paying sales taxes for.

    I’d take real, on the ground commuter service to Fremont and Livermore and I’d take real high speed service to Sacramento over a slogan about “branches” and a
    inability to see beyond trains only to LA.

    But that’s me.

  32. @ #9 NamTurk in Eastside [part 2]

    > The bay crossing would have compromised wetlands there and been much more expensive, requiring a bridge.

    Funny how environmental Carl and Rod have come over all green and harvest-mouse-huggy and palling around with wimbrels all of a sudden.

    Fact is my San Jose workplace is in a tilt-up in a sea of parking alongside a freeway all built on irreplaceable wetlands, and none of that cast of characters, or the corrupt past SJ administrations who cut the deals and approved the bulldozers that buried the burrowing owls alive and drained the wetlands, said a peep.

    Fact is that the VTA-promoted and VOTER-APPROVED Measure A and the VTA-promoted and VOTER-APPROVED Regional Measure 2 supported Dumbarton rail service.

    Fact is that THE SIERRA CLUB was in favor of Dumbarton, understanding, like anybody who reads what is actually in the HSR EIR and doesn’t corruptly discard objective evidence, that it was by far the lesser of environmental evils.

    Get this: ALL of the ENVIRONMENTAL organizations supposed Dumbarton.  (Apart from the astroturf one that Duridon controls.)  The “environmental” arguments against the route are coming from people with long and extremely dishonorable pasts of environmental depredation and economic strip-mining and shady side deals.  I know who I trust to pronounce on wetlands impacts and health, thank you.

    This sudden Silicon Valley Leadership concern for the horrors of running trains between Fremont and Redwood City is, well, simply touching.

    One can’t help but wonder why they aren’t lobbying hard and exclusively against the comparable-scale Hetch Hetchy water supply tunnel which is being built right next to where the rail tunnel would go, in the same ecosystem, in the same geology, using the same technology?

    Come on, Carl, put your money where you mouth is and come out against the Hetch Hetchy Bay Division Pipeline program!  Opposing this environmental devastation of the sensitive under-bay under-water under-ground environment would be a true sign of Silicon Valley Leadership! We want manly consistency, not fishy flip-flopping.

    > The route we have will allow for Caltrain improvements, too. That basically addresses many of these people who seem to think we need BART down the peninsula to reach many job-rich areas in a more timely fashion.

    Caltrain improvements aren’t going to happen while BART extensions are still breathing.

    Proven BART-to-Millbrae failure Kopp said that his CHSRA isn’t going to fund Caltrain in the paper yesterday
    Proven BART-to-Millbrae failure Kopp killed Caltrain improvements (electrification, connection to downtown SF, tripling of service frequency) through his actions in the 1990s.

    VTA has reneged repeatedly on its commitments to Caltrain improvements, both for prior Measure B and new Measure A.  Promised Caltrain funds have repeatedly been stolen and repurposed, and promised funds for Caltrain operations have never been allocated.  (The REAL and passenger-attracting Caltrain gains of the last years have happened because of improved management at SamTrans, were done over the dead bodies of VTA, and happened with essentially FLAT budgets.  Think where Caltrain could be if we’d funded it as we promised we would.  Sunnyvale did get a parking lot built for its merchants at Caltrain expense, however, as a typical example of what crumbs did fall in “Caltrain’s” way.)

    Today VTA is fighting tooth and nail against the Caltrain electrifcation funding we voters promised in Measure A.  It seeks to defund the local commitment entirely, claim that CHSRA will somebody deal with it some decade, and reallocate the funding to … wait for it … its Extra Special Friends at PBQD who are studying/building/lobbying for BART south of Fremont.  *WE* were supposed to be funding this through our taxes.  *WE* made a regional commitment to our friends along the Peinsula.  But now, oh sorry, we’re not going to after all.  Perhaps HSR will do it for you.  Or the tooth fairy.  Nice talking with you.

    ALREADY VTA and MTC have successfully fought tooth and nail against the Caltrain Dumbarton rail project we voters promised in Measure A and in the RM-2 bridge toll vote, and completely defunded the voter-approved program in order to give the money to … wait for it … its Extra Super Pals at PBQD who are studying/building/lobbyig for BART south of Fremont.

    If you think that VTA will follow through on its promises to improve Caltrain or that significant Caltrain improvements—you know, to the line that serves most of Santa Clara County, not just own failed, Redevelopment Agency basket case tax sucking wanna-be downtown, but places you might have heard of like “Santa Clara”, “Mountain View” and “Palo Alto” as well—well, you’re completely ignoring history and you’re completely ignoring the actions that VTA staff and VTA electeds are taking right now, both in public (at VTA Board meetings, VTA workshops, and at Caltrain board meetings) and in private.

    BART just to the Flea Market is hundreds of millions more than VTA can afford; something is going to have to give to keep feeding the corrupt consultant mafia, and it’s crystal clear what’s going to be on the chopping block.

    So please, don’t give us this “will allow for Caltrain improvements” jive—we’ve seen that NOT happen for two decades now, while I’ve seen Kopp, Diridon, Guardino, Dugger, Heminger and friends make sure that the BART extension barrels are keep happy and brimming with pork.

    If BART doesn’t die, everything else will.  That’s fact.  That’s what history proves.  There are no counter-examples.

    That’s all from me.
    You’ve made your beds, now lie in them.
    The only recommendation I have is that if that there’s anybody who supports this linked set of boondoggles who is NOT in line for a take, well you’ve been suckered and ought to start lining your pockets.

  33. The rail buffs and transit aficionados pushing the BART extension and CHSR are a restless lot who can’t seem to get enough of the megaprojects and would instinctively never pass up on a sweet opportunity to spend OPM on the next grandiose public works project regardless of need, feasibility, or consequences.

    When/if these misguided projects are someday funded and built it still won’t be enough for the rail-at-all-costs crowd. It will never be enough. A bullet-train extension from Disneyland to Las Vegas would probably be a logical next step to start watching for on the ballot.

  34. With the collapse of the car makers and the defeat of Bart we can put everyone on foot we’d be better off.

  35. Tom,
      Quoting you”On the positive side, the recent election gave us a president who knows and cares about cities and the value of this unique valley”.
      U.S.Senator Barack Obama campaigned for “Good Government,Respossible Spending”, and Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act”.This was endorced by dozens of editorial boards from all parts of the political spectrum. It was also dozens of editorial boards across the country from the Wall Street Journal,New York Times,Chicago Sun Times and others.
      President-elect Obama believes and supports”Transparency in government”.
      At VTA “Transparency in government spending in Santa Clara County/VTA is an “Idea Whose Time Has Come”. VTA is a secret run organization unlike San Jose City Government. We need “Government in the Sunshine” at VTA.The staff at VTA is opposed to transparency. Accountability is the process that requires us to fully disclose fully and truthfully our performance to those who are entitled to know! Many of us are support public transportation but, weoverwhelmingly believe VTA has the obligation to report and explain how the VTA generates and spends it`s money. VTA is NOT meeting our expectations,we need to read the VTA December report promised us, the VTA General manager has no right to withold that document from us.
      Improved reporting and providing open disclosure of spending are among the most frequent answers to the question on how government could improve at VTA.The San Jose Mercury News needs to work on improved reporting as does VTA.
      Enough with the secret society we know as VTA.

  36. #28 Greg Perry,Eugene Bradley,Margaret Okuzumi,Hugh Jordon and all.All your blogging, comments and appearances at the VTA meetings is a big waste of time unless you convince the VTA board,General Manager and staff that “the Sunshine process, full transparency,open government and full accountability come to VTA”.
        The importance of transparency at VTA is an issue that cannot be overemphasised, it is the only litmus test of the truth at VTA.The VTA needs to become totally transparent in all it`s activities.
        It is necessary to give members of the public the opportunity to decide their own future,“which is theirs by right”.
        The public had and still has no idea of what the VTA is doing, do not leave it up to the San Jose Mercury News to deliver the truth to the public (just read this mornings editorial).
        Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics calls for “open meetings,open records and transparency in government when they say”we mean citizens must be able to “see through”it`s workings, to know exactly what goes on when public officials transact business”.“Government that is not transparent is more prone to corruption and undue influense because there is no public oversight of decision making.
      SCU goes on to say”Democracy depends on knowledgable citizenry whose access to a range of information and enables them to participate more fully in public life, help determine priorties for public spending, recieve equal access to justice, and HOLD THEIR PUBLIC OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE”.
      VTA board and staff without transparency cannot be held accountable.
      “SUNSHINE AT VTA NEEDS TO BECOME YOUR TOP PRIORITY”,otherwise all you are doing is venting and waisting your time.Join together and push for Sunshine at VTA.