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."
A fantastic summary of what is at stake in terms of dollars and sense. Written by a seasoned public transportation journalist and well worth the read.
TransForm's John Knox White says, for instance, that the OAC was supposed to have a top speed of 45 mph. Now it's about 27 mph. He added that over the years, its projected ridership and job-creation numbers have steadily declined.
Knox White said that what was once a system designed to "seamlessly" whisk an air traveler from the Coliseum Station to the airport terminal lobby is now a micro transit system that would take passengers only as far as the western end of the airport's hourly and short-term parking lot.
BART passengers, he says, would have to carry bags downstairs and across a busy intersection to enter the airport terminal.
He notes that the OAC's fares, once quite reasonable at $4 for a round-trip ticket in 2000, would now cost passengers $12.
"BART's attitude is, 'This is the project. We're going to build it no matter what the cost. We are done talking about it,' " Knox White said during a recent interview.
"I feel the society has groomed us to the allure and freedom of the car," said Andrea Tyler, outreach manager for TransForm. "But the auto is no longer living up to its expectations because of the adverse affects on our healty and our environment."