March 14, 2003
President Patrisha Piras and Directors
Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District
1600 Franklin Street
Oakland CA 94612
Re: MIS Phase 2 study-an alternative for your consideration
Dear President Piras and Directors:
The Regional Alliance For Transit has been working more than ten years to improve transit in the Bay Area. Over the years, RAFT has taken positions that have been supportive of AC Transit and its passengers. We now ask that the Board of Directors consider an alternative to the San Leandro-Oakland-Berkeley Major Investment Study phase 2 ("SLOB"), discussed in GM Memorandum 03-079.
As RAFT understands it, AC Transit will soon be seeking an emergency exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act as it plans to cut a material amount of bus service. Surprisingly, the District continues to spend significant funds on the study of SLOB phase 2, a costly Bus Rapid Transit project. The memo shows the planning contract is for $3.5 million, to be paid with CMAQ and Alameda County Measure B funds. RAFT believes this money can be better spent helping to lessen the shock of the upcoming emergency bus service cuts and to help implement TCM 2 by the mandated deadline of November 9, 2006.
The District sometime will start service on the San Pablo Enhanced Bus route. Presumably, there will be an operating cost associated with this new service. The CMAQ money that is intended in 03-079 to go to the SLOB phase 2 study may be used instead to operate the new San Pablo service, freeing up operating funds for use in reducing the level of cuts elsewhere in the District. The Measure B money may be allocated either to additional improvements along the San Pablo route, such as benches and shelters, or it may be used to help implement the Enhanced Bus project on Telegraph/International/East 14th Street. It is not a requirement of ACTIA that Measure B funds be spent on planning for the SLOB phase 2 MIS.
The depressed economy has slowed down the advancement of funds to the SLOB phase 2 project, according to 03-079. Spending $3.5 million to plan for a project that cannot begin construction for three or four years, given the current financial emergency, does not seem the best plan for the District and its passengers. Furthermore, this time frame takes the SLOB phase 2 project out of the TCM 2 implementation period.
In Los Angeles, the MTA is adding one Enhanced Bus project every three months; a less aggressive timetable should not be unachievable here in the Bay Area. Please consider terminating the SLOB phase 2 study and as a worthy alternative, pressing ahead with a package of Enhanced Bus projects. More of the District's passengers will benefit for less money and in a shorter period.
Attached to this letter for your consideration is a brief comparison of several Enhanced Bus projects and the SLOB phase 2 project.