TRANSPORTATION SOLUTIONS DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND
16 Monte Cimas Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941
October 5, 2002
By Fax and E-mail
Mr. Steve Heminger
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
101 Eighth Street
Oakland, California 94607-4700
Re: Draft RTP Amendment
Dear Mr. Heminger:
We request that MTC cure procedural defects in the dissemination of the Draft RTP Amendment, in violation of the requirements of the Conformity SIP requiring interagency consultation prior to the release of the public draft. The San Francisco Bay Area Transportation Air Quality Conformity Interagency Consultation Procedures, adopted 1996 and approved into the SIP in 1997, includes, in pertinent part, the following direction:
"Before the RTP is scheduled to be released for public review in draft form, MTC will convene the Conformity Task Force to consult on, at a minimum, the following:
Financial constraints and other requirements that affect conformity pursuant to Federal Statewide and Metropolitan Planning regulations."
While the failure to follow the Consultation Procedures noted herein pertains specifically to the Draft RTP Amendment, it is also relevant to the public release of the Draft Interim TIP. Comments along these precise lines were raised at the Air Quality Conformity Task Force meeting last month, but no formal agency response has been received so far. While MTC may possibly consider the Draft RTP Amendment to be of such minor status that it is unworthy of consideration for consultation, the Draft contains precisely the sort of controversial agency decisions the Consultation Procedures were designed to address.
A quick review of the Draft RTP Amendment raises the following concerns:
1. The modelling done for the 2001 RTP assumes transit service and fares that no longer accurately represent current conditions.
2. Changes in Urbanized Areas may result in changes to transit operator revenue, potentially affecting service delivery, but this issue has not been analyzed.
3. Difficult economic conditions significantly affect revenue projections, seriously affecting transit service for some operators, e.g., see VTA 02-03 Budget.
4. Difficult economic conditions significantly affect revenue projections, seriously endangering the ability to demonstrate the RTP's financial constraint.
5. Revelations of project costs beyond those disclosed for VTA's BART extension RTP submission require a new demonstration of the RTP's financial constraint.
6. Economic forecasts project a slower rate of job growth for years to come. This strongly controverts the simplistic analysis in Figure 6, in which the growth curve merely shifts to the right, while the slope remains the same. While the curve stops decreasing in the Third Quarter of this year, no economists have yet
identified this time period as the bottom. The curve is thus overly optimistic, and
certainly not indicative of the cuts in transit service and increases in fares.
7. Table 1 contains numerous errors that put in serious doubt the level of care used in data compilation and the degree of confidence they should be afforded. e.g., San Pablo Corridor ridership appears double counted.
8. Table 1 fails to provide the information required by the Court Order. The right hand column is "Estimated Annual Ridership" which is not the ridership increase or new riders information sought by the Court: "Such amendment must include descriptions of the specific projects that MTC will fund in order to achieve the required ridership increase by November 9, 2006; each project description shall include an implementation schedule, along with estimated costs and expected ridership gains."
9. Most of the Draft RTP Amendment is entirely irrelevant to the requirements of the Court Order, as it pertains to projects entering revenue service after 2006.
10. Given the unconvincing demonstration of attainment of the TCM 2 target, adding some of the ridership expansion projects proposed by AC Transit and Muni in fulfillment of their settlements with plaintiffs will likely prove necessary.
Given the seriousness of the embarrassing methodological flaws in the Draft RTP Amendment identified above, we strongly urge you to withdraw the Draft, convene the Conformity Task Force, and carefully follow the Consultation Procedures, prior to releasing a revised draft for public review. Should you decide to issue any notice in response to this request, we would appreciate receiving a courtesy copy by e-mail to the address David@Schonbrunn.org
I look forward to fruitful discussions with you on Tuesday morning. Thank you for your attention to this request.