PR2000 joins lawsuit against BART past SFO

Three transit groups take legal action against BART

Article published Summer 1996

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Peninsula Rail 2000 has joined with two other transit advocate groups in legal action against the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) district over its plan to continue the BART-SFO extension beyond SFO airport to Millbrae.

Train Riders Association of California (TRAC), Coalition for a One-Stop Terminal (COST), and PR2000 are in favor of extending BART to San Francisco airport and connecting it to CalTrain in San Bruno. But the three groups see the present plan as a potential financial disaster for San Mateo County, and out of balance with the real transit needs of the Peninsula.

The coalition is asking that:

  1. the unnecessary two-mile, $250 million extension from the airport to Millbrae be eliminated,

  2. a fair comparison of costs and benefits be made between proposed BART extension alternatives and upgraded CalTrain service extended to downtown San Francisco, and

  3. realistic projections of cost, ridership, and financial impact on local governments and transit systems be given proper consideration.

The congressional General Accounting Office determined that the extension's present financial plan allows for little margin of error, and it fails to accommodate likely funding shortages or cost overruns after construction begins.

Our analysis shows that ridership projections for the extension are grossly overestimated and lead to an overly optimistic farebox projection, which would exacerbate funding problems. The financial shortfall would preclude other projects such as extending CalTrain to downtown San Francisco. It could also jeopardize the BART-SFO extension itself.

The enormous funding commitment from San Mateo County would draw from the same local half-cent sales tax used for SamTrans and CalTrain operations. Both services could be severely curtailed as a result. Even though BART ridership projections rely on CalTrain transfers, the current plan fails to ensure the viability of SamTrans bus service and CalTrain.

We see no justification for BART's two-mile extension beyond the airport with an extra station in Millbrae. Evidently it is BART's desire to operate an unnecessary CalTrain-airport connector service and gain more riders via this extension. CalTrain's own airport station linked with the airport's internal light rail shuttle would better serve CalTrain and future high speed rail riders with nearly seamless, fare-free service. A recently completed study showed this connection would cost a fraction of the $250 million Millbrae BART extension.

The 1995 San Mateo County Grand Jury recommended that the county terminate its involvement in the BART extension and refocus its efforts on improving CalTrain. Instead of taking their recommendations seriously, SamTrans officials attempted to discredit the grand jury, taking issue with their errors in terminology.

In 1995 alternative 6, the proposal to extend BART to Millbrae, gained support of the BART and SamTrans boards. Despite hundreds of comments and questions on problems with costs, financial assumptions, and skewed ridership projections of alternative 6, both boards have steadfastly favored it.

None of the mitigations introduced into the Final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (FEIR/EIS) address fundamental questions on the need for the Millbrae extension. With all other avenues exhausted for having our concerns addressed, PR2000, TRAC, and COST have filed suit against the FEIR/EIS for BART-SFO-Millbrae.

Legal action is costly. Any funds you can send will be greatly appreciated. Please send contributions to Peninsula Rail 2000, 3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303. Make checks payable to Peninsula Rail 2000 with the notation: "Legal fund."

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Last updated: October 24, 1998

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