John Knox White 510-277-2089


Jobs and Transit for Hundreds of Thousands Hang in Balance Wednesday
$70 million could be lost to Bay Area if agency gambles on slow airport shuttle Oakland – With transit agencies across the Bay Area reeling from state budget cuts, an important vote this week by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) could save hundreds of local jobs as well as rail and bus service for hundreds of thousands of commuters. MTC Commissioners will weigh whether or not to send $70 million in Federal Stimulus money to desperately cash-strapped transit agencies. The alternative is to risk losing these funds altogether if it continues pursuing a controversial airport shuttle that has recently been found out of compliance with federal civil rights regulations. A vote to allocate stimulus money to the Bay Area’s transit agencies will allow them to reduce or eliminate major deficits, save existing jobs, stabilize fares and transit service by providing: • $17 million to BART, which faces a $25 million budget shortfall and will be voting on January 28 on whether or not to cut 74 positions layoffs and whether to institute another round of fare increases. $17.5 million to MUNI, which currently faces a $16.9 million operating deficit and will be voting on March 2 on a proposal to cut 230 jobs and implement severe service cuts. $6.7 million to AC Transit, which plans to cut its service by 8.4% in March and is looking at a possible further 7% cut later this year. $12.2 million to VTA, which has depleted their financial reserves and faces a $50 million operating deficit next fiscal year despite recently cutting service by 8 percent and raising fares. Another $17 million that would be divided among Caltrain ($2.7 million), Golden Gate ($2.4 million), SamTrans ($2 million), Vallejo ($2 million) and the other cash-strapped Bay Area transit systems.

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Using stimulus funding for MUNI would provide enough revenue to cover the agencies current deficit and stave off service cuts for families and employees in San Francisco.

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“With MUNI fare increases and across-the-board service cuts having just gone into effect,” said Sarah Karlinsky, Deputy Director of SPUR, “We hope that the MTC makes the most of this opportunity to ensure that more service cuts and higher increases won't have to take place in a couple of months.” Transportation Advocates point out that Wednesday’s voter may create additional funding opportunities in the future. “There’s potentially a second jackpot down the line,” said Stuart Cohen, TransForm’s Executive Director, “MTC’s vote would also ensure the region does not rush an in-depth analysis of alternatives to BART’s hideously overpriced, incredibly slow airport shuttle that is now being required by federal agencies.” Eight months ago, TransForm presented BART with an alternative proposal, one that cost 1/10 of the half-billion dollar OAC project. BART’s failure to analyze the benefits of this alternative or the impact on low-income riders has put the region in jeopardy of losing these stimulus funds. TransForm’s Program Director, John Knox White explains, “If this analysis shows that there are fast, affordable options for BART to airport service that bring benefit to all riders, including low-income riders and communities of color, it will free up hundreds of millions of dollars for other transportation projects. This funding for Alameda County, BART, and commuters across the region would be on top of the infusion of $70 million this week.” These include a possible $150 million for needed BART projects, potentially including seismic work in the East Bay. The Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA),would get back $80 million and be in a much better position to deliver voter-approved projects and programs, such as repairing potholes and making it safer for people to walk and bike, since they now face a huge 10-year funding shortfall. These could generate thousands of construction jobs and serve tens of thousands of new riders. “One thing’s for sure,” says Knox White, “Wednesday’s vote will decide once and for all whether these stimulus funds are about creating the maximum number of jobs and serving people in a down economy, or are gambled on disastrously expensive and slow pet-project. The Bay Area could lose that $70 million altogether later this spring if and when it is found there is a better alternative to the airport that doesn’t harm low-income commuters. This is not Las Vegas; the Bay Area simply can’t accept a gamble with such bad odds.” TransForm is the Bay Area’s leading organization working to promote World Class Public Transportation and Walkable Communities. ### See the following background documents: • • • FTA Letter to MTC Letter from Ignacio De la Fuente reiterating the Oakland City Council’s position MTC’s Plan for reallocation

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