John Knox White of TransForm, a consistent critic of the OAC project, said TransForm and its allies would continue to push for BART to complete more rigorous analysis of the project's equity impacts. He also said BART's response demonstrates an inability to understand the issue at hand.
"Nobody is arguing that there weren't public meetings on the OAC, the issue is that these meetings did not present accurate or credible information," said White. "BART's staff refused to present information requested by MTC Commissioners, the ACTIA Board, Port of Oakland Commissioners, the Oakland City Council, and members of their own Board, as well as Bay Area residents and community organizations."
"BART has already attempted a slapdash analysis of this project and it has been rejected by the FTA. It is not be credible to have BART staff rehire the same OAC consultants who were paid thousands of dollars to 'debunk' TransForm’s RapidBART proposal and the community," said White, referring to a May 2009 email from Tom Dunscombe, OAC Project Manager at BART, to several consultants on the project.
The federal government has good reason to doubt a rail project that costs so much to serve affluent airline passengers, said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, an Oakland-based transportation advocacy group.
"BART has stonewalled the community," Cohen said, "and failed to consider cheaper alternatives that would better serve the community."
TransForm, Public Advocates and Urban Habitat all assert that BART could provide a much cheaper and just as fast service to the airport if it upgraded its current shuttle bus service rather than building the elevated rail extension.
With the savings, Cohen asserted, BART could make the shuttle bus free, a bargain compared with the $6 one-way trip BART has suggested it would need to charge for the system to break even.
"VTA has all this expansion planned," Cohen said. "At the same time, they have to find ways to bring down costs. Buses will do that."
Stuart Cohen, executive director of Oakland-based nonprofit TransForm:
"It's going to be a big problem for the transit riders who either have to deal with that inconvenience or spend money for a new vehicle or take the car they already have. And it's going to be just as big a headache for people who are already driving."
Smart Growth America coalition member TransForm has developed a certification program called GreenTRIP to encourage building the kinds of places we need to reduce our carbon emissions.
"[The proposal] will likely reduce revenues and everyone agrees that the last thing we need to do right now is reduce revenues," said Stuart Cohen, Executive Director of TransForm, a non-profit supporting transit and smart growth. "We’re seeing service cuts and fare hikes that are larger than we’ve ever seen. Many agencies have already depleted their reserves dealing with cuts over the past two years. I don’t think these agencies can take another year of it."
"We are disappointed with the package, but understand that it represents the best package that legislators were able to develop given the state budget crisis. Together, the bills strip public transportation of potentially billions of dollars of funding that advocates have been fighting to protect, and replace them with limited funding that remains vulnerable to raids. This proposal will result in an annual budget battle to ensure that the funding dedicated to public transit actually gets allocated to our buses, trains, and ferries."
The Ohlone, an 800-unit housing development proposed for 8.25 acres along West San Carlos and Sunol streets in San Jose, is the first Bay Area project to be officially certified for reducing traffic.
The environmental movement in construction has convinced developers of the importance of earning certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. TransForm, based in Oakland, wants to do the same thing with cars.
“How people get to and from their new homes is just as important as what those homes are made of,” Cheng said.