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Posts Tagged ‘BART’

So much for that BART transit-oriented development policy:

The BART board is expected to consider on Thursday an additional $37.1 million, 655-space parking garage to the Dublin station.

The proposed six-story garage would replace a current surface parking lot of 118 spots. A net 540 spaces would be added, according to a BART report. The estimated $37.1 million would include $8.6 million in design and $28.5 million in construction costs. Operating costs are expected to be $240,000 annually.

Some quick calculations show the annualized capital cost (at 5% interest rate) is $1.855 million. Including the maintenance cost ($240k) and daily parking fee ($2.50) that comes out to a daily $8 subsidy per commuter!

There are currently 3,100 people on the reserved parking waiting list. So even after spending all that money, it won’t do anything to improve parking availability.

dublin_parking

 

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In the November election, voters will decide whether to approve a $3.5 billion bond for overhauling and repairing BART. The East Bay Times has been editorializing against the bond. Most of what they write is completely loopy. For example, complaining that the costs are not given in year-2065 dollars, or that households would pay more if interest costs were to balloon to 12% (if rates get that high, then the BART bond will be the least of our worries).

There is, however, a kernel of truth in the argument that the bond is back-filling a structural deficit in the maintenance budget. The Times scapegoats the “excessive” worker salaries for this deficit. That is incorrect as the deficit would exist even without recent pay increases. The deficit is the result of two structural problems.

The first problem is the long-term decline in gas tax revenues. For the past two decades, politicians at the State and Federal level have refused to increase the gas-tax. As inflation eats into gas-tax revenues,  there has been a big decline in revenue to support transit operations. This has forced BART and other agencies to use creative accounting and borrowing to shore up finances — but that can only go on for so long.

The second problem has to do with the design of BART itself. The low-ridership extensions into far-flung suburbs are a huge drain on finances. Unfortunately, the BART bond exacerbates the problem by providing $350 million for the construction of new parking garages. Subsidizing auto-centric development around the peripheral BART stations is not the solution to the suburban ridership problem.

bart_parking

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To accommodate higher passenger loads, BART has been testing new seating layouts. There are three configurations being tested:

bart_layout

bart_layout2

bart_layout3

This evening, I was riding in the 3rd one. Most of the seats were removed along one side of the car. I have to say, it did a good job accommodating five bikes, airport luggage, and an oversized wheelchair. The wheelchair user was thrilled that she finally got a window seat. Passenger volume was not that high, though, despite being rush hour.

bart_car2

Approaching 12th St Station 

bart_car3

Relatively empty at the end of the line in Fremont

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First there was the Fremont flyer. Now the Hayward flyer:

One of BART’s new train cars overshot the end of the track and ran into a mound of dirt at a Hayward testing facility on Friday — another setback for a transit agency that has been dealing with aging infrastructure and a mysterious track problem crippling trains.

Officials were investigating whether an operator mistake or system error caused the glitch, which occurred at 1:55 p.m. on a test track between South Hayward Station and Union City, said Taylor Huckaby, a BART spokesman.

The train was traveling on a straight track and continued going after the track ended, causing some of the train to remain on the track while the rest went into the dirt, he said.

hayward_flyer

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‘On schedule’ was how the Tri-City Voice described the project in August 20, 2010:

According to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) spokesperson Linton Johnson, the Warm Springs Extension, 5.4-miles of new BART track from the current Fremont Station to a new station in Warm Springs, Fremont, with an optional station at Irvington is “on schedule and under budget.”

An award of contract is expected in March 2011 with construction lasting from June 2011 to June 2014. Construction costs are estimated at $300M with anticipated funding of $421M. Testing of the BART extension to Warm Springs will begin in April 2014 with live service expected by the end of 2014.

 

And then it got delayed until 2015 (Mercury News):

Q You report that the BART Warm Springs station will open later this year. Wikipedia says early 2016. Can you use your superpowers to find the actual date they plan to be ready?

Cliff Gold

Fremont

A BART says late this year [2015] remains the target. They are testing the connections from the main Fremont station to this new station. After that’s done this fall, we should know more.

Delayed again, until 2016 (Mercury News):

With its structure nearly complete and testing of trains in its second month, the Warm Springs/South Fremont Bay Area Rapid Transit Station is expected to go into service this summer [2016], according to BART spokeswoman Molly McArthur.

Last October, the agency delayed opening of the station on Warm Springs Boulevard near South Grimmer Boulevard from later that year to sometime in 2016. Testing of several systems such as communications, train control and traction power were expected to begin that November. However, trains did not begin rolling into the station for testing until January.

It’s kind of like watching grass grow,” McArthur said jokingly.

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Plans are taking shape for the area around the new Warm Springs BART station. As typical for suburban BART stations, the plans entail large amounts of parking:

warm_springs_parking

To give the neighborhood an urban-look, the parking garages are placed inside or below buildings:

warm_springs_parking_2

For each residential unit within 1/4 mile of the BART station (i.e. 5-minute walk), Fremont’s zoning code requires 1.5 parking spaces . Beyond the 1/4-mile threshold, the requirement increases to 2 parking spaces. These parking requirements apply even to the affordable housing.

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The BART-Oakland airport connector has been in operation for 6 months. And now that we are entering the peak summer flying season, it is a good opportunity to look at actual ridership numbers.

For the month of June, the average weekday daily ridership was 3,231 entries and exits. The month of May had similar ridership (3,203 entries and exits).

In its final ridership study (to obtain grant funding) BART had predicted OAC ridership to be in the range of 3,260-3,940 in the year 2015. That number was later revised downward to 2,685.

The OAC replaced the AirBART bus service. The baseline bus ridership was 2100, although ten years ago it was much higher (around 3500 average weekday trips). This gives (at best) a net gain in transit ridership of 1,000 daily trips — a dismal result for a capital project costing $500 million.

OAC

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