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Comment: SamTrans finally escaping foolish, costly BART deal

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  • 2/21 Menlo Park Almanac
    Published Wednesday, February 21, 2007, by the Menlo Park Almanac Comment County stuck with BART costs By Steve Schmidt Finally, there is a deal in the works
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 23, 2007
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      Published Wednesday, February 21, 2007, by the Menlo Park Almanac

      Comment

      County stuck with BART costs

      By Steve Schmidt

      Finally, there is a deal in the works to settle the annual squabble
      over how much Samtrans owes BART for the operation of BART's
      extension to the San Francisco Airport. This is a relief to
      residents in the transit-impoverished South County.

      The proposed arrangement <http://tinyurl.com/2d24sn>, negotiated
      behind closed doors, would cap Samtrans' annual contribution at
      $2 million a year. However, it would also require a one-time payment
      by Samtrans of $37 million to BART to close the books on the
      grandiose SFO extension project and help BART get started on an
      extension from Fremont to the Warm Springs district of San Jose.

      While these are frightening numbers, they are less than the annual
      $11 million to $17 million a year Samtrans has been paying to BART
      since 2003. The reduction of bus service in the county is directly
      related to these obligations.

      This new glimpse into the financial and political world of regional
      transit should remind Menlo Park residents that there is more to
      civics than local development, council candidate's campaign
      contributions and questionable commission appointments. Our City
      Council members also should be representing us in regional issues.

      Mayor Kelly Fergusson recently narrowly failed to gain a seat on
      the San Mateo County Transit Authority (TA). The TA is one of three
      transit boards involving local elected officials. For years all
      have been heavily influenced by Daly City politicians. Independent
      thinking on the county transportation boards has not been welcome.

      San Mateo County's strange relationship with BART started in the
      1990s and continued under the influence of Supervisor Jerry Hill
      and his Daly City predecessors on the Samtrans board. Enthusiasm
      for BART inspired them to tap Samtrans coffers freely in order to
      extend this urban subway system out of Daly City.

      Their promise was that ridership generated by the three added
      stations between Daly City and SFO would actually be sufficient to
      make money for Samtrans. These unrealistically optimistic ridership
      projections were approved and trotted off to Washington in order to
      secure $750 million in federal grants for the design, property
      acquisition and construction of the project. Now, $1.5 billion later,
      reality has set in.

      The current arrangement from which Samtrans is now trying to
      extricate itself is due largely to the fact that the South County is
      under-represented on the Samtrans board, where continued domination
      by Daly City and its heirs has for many years controlled the
      membership of the board and its decisions.

      The cost for our not paying attention to these county transit issues
      that involve high finance and creative accounting has contributed to
      today's crisis. I hope that independent local officials such as Jim
      Janz of Atherton, Terry Nagel of Burlingame and our Mayor Fergusson
      can raise awareness of the public transportation needs of the entire
      county and open up the process so that the current Samtrans/BART/SFO
      fiasco is never repeated.


      Steve Schmidt is a former mayor of Menlo Park and a former member of
      the Caltrain and Samtrans board.


      [BATN: See also:

      Editorial: Escape from BART to cost SamTrans over $90m
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33825

      BART, SamTrans claim divorce over SFO extension will help riders
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33786

      Column: SMCo. BART disaster vindicates ex-Burlingame mayor, others
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33817

      BART, SamTrans claim divorce over SFO extension will help riders
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33786

      SamTrans to buy its way out of disastrous BART extension deal
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33740

      SamTrans looks to escape ruinous Millbrae BART extension deal
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33739

      SamTrans-BART deal turns failed Millbrae extension over to BART
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33738

      Comment: SamTrans divorces BART over failed SMCo. extension
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/33696

      Letter: Candidate Nevin architected bad Samtrans-BART deal
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/30872

      Menlo candidate Schmidt plans to focus on transportation issues
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/29693

      Opinion: Dysfunctional Caltrain requires real transit district
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/23806

      Steve Schmidt comeback? SMCo. transit tax renewal
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/17410

      Caltrain, SamTrans face challenges as Schmidt exits
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/9959

      Column: Schmidt says CalTrain / BART rivalry over
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/8061

      Caltrain board to lose Caltrain advocate Schmidt
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/7658 ]
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