"Removing this important incentive of a free trip across bridges would be a big mistake," said Carli Paine, transportation program director for the Oakland-based TransForm, an advocate for public transportation and walkable communities.
Carli Paine of TransForm, a transit advocacy group, objected to carpool tolls. "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to remove the important incentive (for carpoolers) of a free ride across the bridge," she said.
Paine said TransForm generally supports the concept of congestion pricing but "it does not make sense to put a toll on carpools" at a time when the region is trying to reduce congestion and meet greenhouse gas targets.
Cody said that 10 percent of students in Rosa Parks and Thousand Oaks Elementary Schools have stopped driving to school and are instead walking and riding school buses.
John Knox White, the program director for TransForm, an Oakland-based transit advocacy group, said in a statement, "This project has become a shell of the project that was promised to voters and offers no benefits to the city of Oakland."
White said, "The City Council has a chance to stop a terrible waste of stimulus and taxpayer money in favor of creating jobs, providing real transportation improvements and actually benefiting Oakland."
It's not as if no one has noticed the MTC fiddling with big capital projects while ordinary transit is burned. Organizations such as Urban Habitat have pointed out the waste in two new big future projects gobbling up today's necessary transit funding and have actually (with Genesis and Transform) sued over issues relating to the OAC. TransDef, TransForm, Rebecca Kaplan of the Oakland City Council, and others have raised their voices to complain about MTC’s allocations of funding.
To date, such myriad voices have fallen on deaf ears.
Some public transit advocates, though, are strongly opposed to the bill. Stuart Cohen, executive director of the statewide group TransForm, said some of the Bay Area's most congested carpool lanes – in southern Marin County, Palo Alto and Berkeley, for instance – are also places where residents need little extra incentive to invest in a green car.
"These are the people that are going to buy these things anyway," Cohen said.
"This changes how this money was moved by the voters and it deserves more than a few days of discussion. If this is a short-term problem because of the economy, then they should have a short-term solution. We don't need to be gutting long-term improvements for riders."