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BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 21 December 2006

Caltrain Bicycle Master Plan

Caltrain is beginning a year-long project to develop a Bicycle Master Plan. As part of this process, Caltrain is forming a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and inviting members of the public to participate. If you'd like to receive information on this project, send your contact information to the Project Manager listed below

Information Required:

  1. name
  2. email address
  3. phone number
  4. mailing address

Send Info To:

Celia Chung, Project Manager
Caltrain Bicycle Master Plan
chungc@samtrans.com
650-508-6388




BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 14 December 2006

VTA Board approves BART preliminary engineering contracts

After a somber and extended discussion, in which several of the VTA board members expressed concerns about the BART project and suggested that VTA study alternatives, the board voted 9-2 to approve the preliminary engineering contracts. Councilmember Greg Perry and Supervisor Liz Kniss voted No.

We're disappointed with this outcome. The overwhelming majority of the public testimony they received was against spending more on BART.

BayRail executive director Margaret Okuzumi was interviewed by both KRON 4 and NBC 11. She was also interviewed (in English) by Sing Tao Chinese Radio.

Supervisor Kniss repeatedly mentioned the cost overruns of Boston's "Big Dig" -- a project that was originally priced at $4 B and is now priced at $16 Billion -- and expressed concern over the construction risks of tunneling. "I say we're on the wrong track with these precious transit dollars," said Kniss. Among other concerns, she noted BART doesn't yet connect to the county line.

This fight isn't over -- VTA will be putting a measure on the ballot in 2008 to obtain more taxes for the BART project. If that tax is defeated, then the VTA board will be forced to consider superior rail alternatives that don't require a new tax.

Meanwhile, please thank Greg Perry and Supervisor Liz Kniss for their No votes.

greg_perry1234@yahoo.com
liz.kniss@bos.sccgov.org




BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 13 December 2006

Stop VTA from flushing $185 Million

Tomorrow, Thursday, at 9 AM, the VTA board of directors will vote on additional spending on the BART extension to Santa Clara County. Please contact the VTA board immediately to tell them to vote against this expenditure - either permanently or until they have more money in hand.

Send e-mail to the VTA board:
board.secretary@vta.org and please bcc: margaret@bayrailalliance.org

The VTA board is voting on several contracts that are intended to authorize an additional $185 million in spending on preliminary engineering for the extension, of which $75 million would be spent this coming year. With interest on the borrowing, the real cost is much higher.

This is on top of some $170 million they've already borrowed and spent on preliminary engineering for the BART project. They've already borrowed about 4 times more money from Measure A than what's been collected from the tax so far.

Stop VTA from flushing another $200 million+ down the drain. Send e-mail to the VTA board:
board.secretary@vta.org and please bcc:
margaret@bayrailalliance.org

Tell them to stop throwing good money after bad. The BART project was rated Not Recommended by the Federal Transit Administration, and is unlikely to obtain the hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds necessary regardless of this additional expenditure by VTA. Any good businessperson knows that even if one has spent a lot of money on a bad deal, one cuts one's losses instead of throwing away more.

VTA has enough of a credibility problem without spending all of their money on studies -- instead of real transit improvements such as Caltrain electrification and express buses which were promised in 2000 Measure A. In fact, it's looking likely that VTA will cut bus service in the coming year.

VTA will apply to the state for some money next month, but we don't know how much they will get -- staff has been hoping for about $42 million -- and Measure A is still going to take a large hit. What projects will suffer as a result?

What does VTA have to show for the taxes that are now being collected, other than more studies? What is the shelf life of this work?

Tell VTA to put the brakes on irresponsible borrowing and to start producing results.

Send e-mail to the VTA board:
board.secretary@vta.org and please bcc:
margaret@bayrailalliance.org

call or e-mail individual board members who represent your city or council district by going to
www.vtaridersunion.org/DIY/vtaboard.html

or attend in person

Thursday, December 14
9 AM
Board of Supervisors' Chambers
County Government Center
70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, California

On the Board agenda, see agenda items 23-28.

Read more in today's Mercury News:

"This is throwing good money after bad," said Margaret Okuzumi, executive director for BayRail Alliance, adding: "What other Measure A projects won't get completed due to the interest we will have to pay on the borrowing for this black hole?"

[...]

But there is little money to run more local transit, and a spending plan approved by the VTA board in June is expected to cost about $3 billion more than VTA anticipates to receive in that time.

[...]

"We can make the argument that we can build the system," Burns said, "but we clearly do not have the money to operate the system. We need to come to a decision point on this over the next 18 months or two years."

Translation: Any VTA board member who votes for this is essentially saying they want VTA to put another tax on the ballot in 2008, and is presuming that such a ballot measure will be successful.

Send short letters to the Mercury News expressing your outrage:
letters@mercurynews.com




BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 14 November 2006

1) Dumbarton Rail Corridor Scoping Meetings

Caltrain and the Federal Transit Administration, in cooperation with local agencies, are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report for the Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project.

The project will extend rail service between Redwood City and Union City by reconstructing an existing rail corridor next to the Dumbarton Bridge. The Scoping Meeting is one of the first steps in the environmental process.

The public is invited to learn about the project and to give comments about the project purpose, the proposed alternatives and the potential environmental impacts.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Newark Community Center, 35501 Cedar Blvd.

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
City of Menlo Park Senior Center, 110 Terminal Ave.

An information meeting on the environmental review process will also be held in the city of Fremont on Nov. 29, 2006.



2) Update: Transbay Community Meetings

Please join the TJPA at upcoming Community Meetings to learn more about the new Transbay Transit Center.

Thursday, November 30th, 2006, 6:00pm with San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty
LGBT Community Center, The Spencer Andrew Ceremonial Room (4th Floor)
1800 Market Street @ Octavia
San Francisco, CA 94102




BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 18 October 2006

VTA Policy Advisory Committee / Caltrain Project Priorities Subcommittee

On Thursday, October 26, the Caltrain Project Priorities Subcommittee of the VTA Policy Advisory Committee is meeting to receive a presentation on Caltrain electrification. Several committee members are highly skeptical about electrification so we need members of the public to attend to demonstrate their interest. Caltrain staff have been invited to present at this meeting, which is not publicized on the VTA website.

Thursday, October 26
4 PM - 6 PM
Caltrain Project Priorities Subcommittee
VTA Room B-104
3331 N 1st Street
San Jose




BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 15 September 2006

1) Contact Governor Schwarzenegger to support AB 2444 (funding for transit)!

AB 2444 is a bill that would mean millions of dollars for public transit capital improvements and operations in the Bay Area. Please call and/or email the Governor NOW asking him to sign AB 2444. He must choose to sign the bill by the end of this month or else it will die. Already we are half-way through the month and he has not yet signed. Please help us demonstrate strong support for AB 2444.

AB 2444 would give the Bay Area the ability to raise up to $60 million a year for transit and clean air measures through low vehicle registration fees (up to a total of $10 per vehicle). Funds are controlled and spent locally, and directly benefit the vehicle drivers paying the fees. The fees must be passed by a supermajority of elected officials, and AB 2444 includes measures that ensure ongoing accountability and oversight.

The Governor will not sign the bill unless he sees overwhelming support from the Bay Area for AB 2444!

Take Action! See TALC's page on AB 2444 to find out what you can do.



2) Nominations due for BayRail Alliance board

Final call for nominations to serve on the BayRail Alliance board. Board Members set policy for the organization and are responsible for financial and legal health of the organization to keep it true to its mission. If you're interested in serving, please contact Margaret Okuzumi via e-mail.




BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 18 July 2006

1) Governor funds HSR, but bond delayed to 2008

Yes, you made a difference! In response to those of you who made calls to support California High-Speed Rail in response to our last action alert, the Governor's office started to take note and began asking callers what group prompted them to call.

Governor Schwarzenegger kept the $14.3 million in the 2006-07 Budget to begin HSR project implementation. Accordingly, this includes:

  • completion of a financial plan,
  • project management,
  • identification of critical right-of-way acquisitions,
  • development of a simulator for planning system operation and public information, and
  • $9 million for the beginning of detailed project design and related environmental studies.

He also did not take away massive amounts of money from transit operators and in fact gave them an unexpected windfall which will stave off further fare hikes and service reductions this year even with steeply rising fuel costs. Congratulations and thank you for taking action!

The fight for HSR funding will continue next year, as the HSRA anticipates needing an additional $103 M in fiscal year '07-'08 for engineering work as well as right-of-way purchases.

Bond for HSR Construction Delayed to Nov. 2008

The Governor signed AB 713, delaying the high speed rail bond to the Nov. 2008 election.
[full text of the law]

Support for HSR is still perceived to be low and so, we will need to educate the public about the merits of HSR and help with the campaign. If you're interested in getting involved in this, please contact us.



2) Join the BayRail Alliance board

BayRail Alliance seeks enthusiastic and responsible people to join our nonprofit board for a two-year term. Board members oversee the running of the organization and make policy decisions. We are especially seeking people with legal, financial or accounting expertise. If you are interested, please contact us.




BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 7 June 2006

1) Measure A goes down!
   Next steps...

We are savoring our victory as Measure A in Santa Clara County received a stunning defeat yesterday! Thanks to all who helped defeat this ill-conceived tax measure which would have enabled VTA to continue its unsustainable commitment to the poorly-conceived BART extension.

The large margin of defeat while other local tax measures passed sends a strong message to the county and to VTA that they've got to come up with a better plan for using public funds.

The final result was:
NO 57.62%
YES 42.38%

We need your help now to convince VTA to develop a Plan B that includes Caltrain Metro East and a better, more realistic and more affordable plan than extending BART, without a new tax.

The VTA Project Advisory Committee is meeting tomorrow, Thursday to review and approve an expenditure plan scenario to recommend to the full VTA board.

Thursday, June 8, 2006
5:30 P.M.
City of Mountain View
City Council Chambers
500 Castro Street

Committee members include Supervisor Liz Kniss, Sunnyvale councilmember Dean Chu, Cupertino councilwoman Dolly Sandoval, Supervisor Don Gage and San Jose councilmember Forrest Williams.

Please call or e-mail these folks. Urge them to go back to the drawing board and consider alternatives to BART that would be better and affordable without a new tax, such as BayRail Alliance's proposed Caltrain Metro East plan!

Contact:

Supervisor Liz Kniss (408) 299-5050 liz.kniss@bos.sccgov.org
Supervisor Don Gage (408) 299-5010 don.gage@bos.sccgov.org
Dean Chu CouncilDeanChu@yahoo.com
Dolly Sandoval dsandoval@cupertino.org
Forrest Williams (408) 535-4902 forrest.williams@sanjoseca.gov


2) Prop C fails, but Transbay Terminal still wins

Prop C to change how appointments are made to the TJPA board failed by a large margin yesterday. However, we still feel victorious, because the San Francisco TJPA board members unanimously voted to approve five different resolutions at their meeting last Friday that will move the Transbay project forward, ending the frustrating stalling tactics that prompted Prop C in the first place.

See the following article:
SF Transbay advocates declare victory on Prop. C, end campaign




Keep high-speed rail planning alive (2 June 2006)

In the Bay Area, high-speed rail is an integral component of a comprehensive regional rail study, set for completion next year. Unfortunately, the Legislature and the Governor left planning for high-speed rail out of the bond, as well as the current proposed budget. Please contact the Legislature, especially Senator Perata, immediately to ensure that the High Speed Rail Authority gets the $13 million it needs to continue the planning.

Take action: www.transcoalition.org/c/sus_hsr
(courtesy of the Transportation and Land Use Coalition)



BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 15 May 2006

No on Santa Clara County Measure A needs your help!

BayRail Alliance urges you to vote NO on Measure A, a proposed half-cent increase to the Santa Clara County sales tax on the June 6 ballot. If this measure passes, it will encourage VTA to stick with their current plans and will become more difficult for us to advance our Caltrain Metro East proposal. The county should come back to the ballot in November with a reduced funding proposal that more closely matches the county's needs.

Read these articles:
Measure A: Bum tax by a bad bunch by Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold

and Deceits behind Measure A undercut case for tax boost by Los Altos councilman David Casas, who recently completed a 2-year term on the VTA Board.

The outcome of the election is likely to be very close, according to a poll recently released by the Mercury News.

The No campaign has an excellent mailer that we'd like to mail to voters, but we don't have sufficient funds at present. If you'd like to support the No on A campaign, please mail checks ASAP to

Citizens for Sensible Transportation
c/o Greg Perry
1030 Boranda Ave
Mountain View, CA 94040

FPPC id 1277694

Please include each your name, address, employer, employer's address, and occupation.



BayRail Alliance Issue Updates, 18 April 2006

Attend key VTA transit plan meetings

A VTA Project Advisory Committee has been convened to review and prioritize the 2000 Measure A Project List plus a program of local streets, county expressways, and bicycle and pedestrian path improvements; an expanded Senior / Disabled Program; and the Sunnyvale/Cupertino Bus Rapid Transit Project.

Please plan to attend the April 27 meeting to ask them to consider the Caltrain Metro East proposal in lieu of BART, and to express your support for Caltrain electrification and improvements.

For more information on Caltrain Metro East, please see our South Bay Rail Vision page.

The Caltrain electrification program is now being phased to electrify to San Jose rather than Gilroy, reducing overall electrification costs to about $150 million per county. This is very reasonable and manageable compared to the cost of many other transportation projects. The construction of the 5.3-mile Vasona Light Rail to Winchester station in Campbell cost more than $200 million in local revenue. The BART extension would cost more than $2,200 million ($2.2 Billion) in local monies to construct, plus another 1,900 million dollars in financing costs.

Leaders in southern Santa Clara County are asking that money that would otherwise go to electrification in south county be instead allocated to double-tracking and increase of service on that portion of the line, including possible reverse-commute service and mid-day service.

The VTA Project Advisory Committee is comprised of five members of the VTA Board of Directors including: Vice Chair Dean Chu, and Board members Don Gage, Liz Kniss, Dolly Sandoval, and Forrest Williams.

This committee has already met twice. The remaining meetings will be held throughout the county as follows:

VTA Project Advisory Committee

Thurs., April 27 @ 5:30 p.m. at Milpitas City Council Chambers Hall, 455 E. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas
Agenda item: BART project

Thurs., May 11 @ 5:30 p.m. at VTA Campus, Bldg. A Auditorium, 3331 No. First Street, San Jose.
Agenda item: Light Rail, Buses, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

Thurs., May 25 @ 5:30 pm at Cupertino City Hall, 10300 Torre Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014-3202
Agenda item: Pavement Management, Expenditure Plan Scenario

Thurs., June 8 @ 5:30 pm - location to be determined
Agenda item: Conclusion and Recommendations



High Speed Rail talk at TASC

Art Lloyd, member of the Caltrain governing board, will be giving a talk on High Speed Rail in Mountain View before the Technology and Society Committee group (TASC)
Tuesday, May 2nd @ 11:45 a.m.
Golden Wok restaurant
895 Villa Street, Mountain View (cross street is Bryant)

$9.50 for lunch if you choose to purchase lunch.


14 March 2006 Issue Updates

1) Call your Assemblymember re: Infrastructure Bond Measure

Call now to keep High Speed Rail construction funded!

While the State Senate voted down the bond measure on Friday, negotiations for a multi-billion state infrastructure bond continue in the Assembly. Please contact your Assemblymember to make sure that High Speed Rail and increased rail transit funding is a part of that.

Look up your Assemblymember's contact information at one of these sites:

Please also call Speaker Fabian NuŮez's office: (916) 319-2046.

Urge him or her to ensure that:

1. The HSR bond stays on the ballot and is delayed but not canceled.

2. To meanwhile provide at least $1 billion in the infrastructure bond for HSR, to buy and preserve critical right of way.

3. To take the money from proposed new dams and surface water projects, which the environmental community strongly opposes. Dams cannot be made seismically safe; moreover these projects destroy lots of habitat. More about those projects (courtesy of PCL):

  • The Governor said he needed one new dam to be funded under the bond in order to support it. The Senate gave him that dam (the reconstruction of Perris Lake in Riverside County which provides up to 800,000 new acre feet of water for the state water project).

  • The Assembly amendments allow funding for two more dams (the so-called "Temperence Flat" and "Sites" dams in Northern California), both of which are years, and billions of dollars, away from even being found to be feasible.

  • The Assembly amendments also allow state taxpayer dollars to be used to subsidize costs that should be borne by big agribusiness and other large water users to address the adverse environmental effects of their over-pumping water from the Delta.

  • The Assembly amendments also allow state taxpayer funds to be used to subsidize the costs that should be borne by big developers landowners to provide flood protection for new homes they build.

2) BayRail General meeting this Thursday, March 16, 2006

3) Attend TJPA meeting Thursday, March 16
4) Support New SF Ballot Initiative for Transbay
Please see Caltrain/Transbay Terminal updates and alerts page for these two items.

5) Attend VTA Project Priorities Meeting, Thursday March 23

VTA has created a Project Priority and Revenue Advisory Committee to "review and prioritize the Measure A project list and create strategies to secure sufficient revenues to fund the project list."

The first meeting has been set for Thursday, March 23, 2006, 5:30 p.m. Building A, Auditorium VTA River Oaks Campus 3331 N. First Street, San Jose, CA

Please attend and let them know that you consider Caltrain electrification and improvements and speeding up existing transit to be a top priority! Several Caltrain improvements were not completed under the previous Measure B program. Don't let VTA make the priorities "BART and nothing else!"

6) TALC Summit in Oakland, April 1

This year's Summit will be at the First Unitarian Church in downtown Oakland. Pre-registration for the event guarantees you the low price of $10, which includes breakfast, lunch, materials, and valet bike parking. Registration for walk-ins is $20.

Volunteers get free admission. Email summit@transcoalition.org or call 510-740-3150 and ask for Hoang if you're interested.

Learn more and register now.

7) MTC Draft Transit Connectivity Plan comments due April 14

You're invited to comment on the MTC Draft Transit Connectivity Plan. The consultants are particularly looking for input on Chapter 4, the Recommendations section. The Plan can be viewed online and downloaded in pdf format from the MTC Web site at www.mtc.ca.gov. Copies of the draft plan also are available for public review at the MTC Library at 101 Eighth Street in Oakland, and at major public libraries in each of the nine Bay Area counties. You may request a copy from the MTC Library by e-mail at library@mtc.ca.gov, or by phone at 510.817.5836.

Comments on the draft plan must be received by MTC no later than 4 p.m., Friday, April 14, 2006.


31 February 2006 Issue Updates
Support funding for High-Speed Rail (HSR)

There is little support for California High-Speed Rail in the legislature at present. One Assemblymember recently said, "Many of my colleagues just think it is an expensive alternative to Southwest Airlines". This ignorance is partly due to high turnover in the legislature created by term limits. It is important for us to keep reminding our legislators of the benefits of HSR, and that we want high-speed rail to be built.

  • A recent study found that HSR would save 6 billion pounds of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere each year.
    See High Speed Rail and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the U.S. (prepared by the Center for Clean Air Policy in LA, and Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago)
  • HSR provides tremendous economic benefits for the state, creates many jobs.
  • The California High Speed Rail Authority is close to completing environmental studies for the project. It is imperative that they be given enough funds to at least complete those studies and to begin purchasing land to build the line in key areas before further development makes it impossible to build HSR.

Please send letters of support to the Governor and six key state legislators who will sit on the Joint Conference Committee on the Infrastructure Bond.

Ask them to provide funding for HSR and local transit in the infrastructure bond package. Instead of the current split which gives 91% of transportation bond money to highways and roads, the split must be made much more favorable to public transit including at least 10% for local transit, 10% for commuter rail and 10% for intercity rail. Ask them also to keep the High-Speed Rail Bond on the ballot for November 2006 so that California's voters can decide whether or not they want high-speed rail.

contact key senators:

Dennis Hollingworth (Room 5064)
Kevin Murray (Room 5050)
Wesley Chesbro (Room 5035)
CA State Senate, Room # _[as above]__
Sacramento, CA 95814
e-mail:
senator.lastname@sen.ca.gov

key assemblymembers:

John Laird (District 27)
Judy Chu (District 49)
Rick Keene (District 08)
PO Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-00+(insert District #)
e-mail:
assemblymember.lastname@assembly.ca.gov


Save High Speed Rail: Emergency lobbying in Sacramento Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The California High-Speed Rail project, which could save 6 billion pounds of CO2 from being produced per year, is on life support. Senator Perata had originally proposed including $1 billion for HSR in his $10 billion bond proposal, but now it looks like the project may be knocked off the funding list altogether. The Governor's $222 billion spending plan contains not a penny for HSR.

To save HSR, we need an immediate and strong outcry to let our elected officials know that we support this important infrastructure project. Ask the Governor, Senator Perata and your local state legislators to support funding HSR today. Please ask them not to cancel the $10 B bond measure planned for the ballot on Nov. 2006. At the very least, the HSR project needs $1B to finish environmental studies and to purchase land until voters approve a larger bond measure to build the project.

A senate hearing on the Governor's bond proposal in Sacramento is scheduled for this Tuesday, January 31 at 1:30 pm. If you would like to join other BayRail Alliance members in traveling to Sacramento for this lobbying effort, or would like to help mobilize others in support of the project, please contact Brian Stanke at (415) 350-2318.

For more information, see:
Schwarzenegger scheme will kill CA high-speed rail plans (Thursday, January 26, 2006, in the San Francisco Chronicle)
High Speed Rail and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the U.S. (prepared by the Center for Clean Air Policy in LA, and Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago)

MTC Transit Connectivity Study

Bay Area citizens are invited to comment on MTC's Draft Transit Connectivity Plan.

State legislation -- Streets and Highways Code Section 30914.5(d) -- requires MTC to adopt a regional transit connectivity plan by May 1, 2006. Once adopted, the Connectivity Plan shall be incorporated into the commissionís Transit Coordination Implementation Plan pursuant to Section 66516.5 of the Government Code. A public hearing is required at least 60 days prior to adoption.

This plan shall focus on, but not be limited to, feeder transit lines connecting to regional rapid transit services, and the connection of regional rapid transit services to one another. MTC will adopt performance measures and collect appropriate data to monitor the performance of the Connectivity Plan. The plan will be evaluated by the Commission as part of the update to its regional transportation plan.

MTC will hold a public hearing to receive oral or written testimony on the proposed Connectivity Plan during MTCís Commission meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, February 22, 2006, at 10 a.m. (or immediately following the Bay Area Toll Authority Committee meeting, whichever occurs later).

Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter Auditorium
101 Eighth Street, Oakland
(across from the Lake Merritt BART Station)

Copies of the Draft Transit Connectivity Plan will be available for public review as of February 10, 2006 at the MTC-ABAG Library, located at 101 Eighth Street in Oakland, California, and at major public libraries in each of the nine Bay Area counties. You may request a copy from the MTC Library by e-mail at library@mtc.ca.gov, or by telephone at 510/817-5836. The plan will also be posted on the MTC website.

Comments on the draft plan must be received by MTC no later than 4 p.m., Friday April 14, 2006. Written comments may be submitted to MTC's Public Information Office at 101 Eighth St., Oakland, CA 94607; faxed to MTC at 510/817-5848; or sent via e-mail to info@mtc.ca.gov. After considering public comment, the Commission is scheduled to adopt the proposed Connectivity Plan at its April 26, 2006 meeting. For more information, contact the MTC Public Information Office at 510/817-5757.


   
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