Guest opinion by former MP councilman Steve Schmidt: Time to support Dumbarton Rail
Original post made on Jun 10, 2007
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on Jun 10, 2007 at 10:28 pm
Let's not be fooled by the "Public Transportation" label. The most recent ridership estimate presented to the public clearly stated that 5,600 TRIPS per day - not roundtrips. That's 2,800 people going to work and 2,800 people coming home. How much sense does it make to spend $600 MILLION dollars to build and countless millions to maintain a heavy rail system that will use HIGH POLLUTION, refurbished DIESEL trains for 2,800 people? Is THIS environmentally responsible? Is this FINACIALLY responsible? The cost per rider projections for this project are 10 times higher than what is considered acceptable for federally funded projects. There are other transportation projects in the Bay Area that are FAR more worthy of our dollars and will make a far greater impact on alleviating traffic.
on Jun 11, 2007 at 10:17 am
Here's an opportunity for Mr. or Ms. A Numbers Person to identify for us the "...other projects in the Bay Area that are FAR more worthy of our dollars and will make a far greater impact on alleviating traffic." What is your opinion?
on Jun 11, 2007 at 11:31 am
Below are some web-sites to get you started on answering your question about
"...other projects in the Bay Area that are FAR more worthy of our dollars and will make a far greater impact on alleviating traffic." Although this statement may be hyperbole and I do need to learn much more about BRT, it does seem reasonable to be open to transit alternatives to rail projects (such as Dumbarton) and their enormous capital development costs and negative social impact. (Wikipedia has a long, informative and balanced discussion of BRT.)
The basic point here is to make a critical distinction between "Rail" and "Transit." The former is a sub-set of, not the entirety of, the latter. Rail advocates seem unable to see beyond the tracks. Rail is only one among several modalities for moving people. If I understand your position, you actually are an advocate for a comprehensive, inter-modal, urban transit network. I do know that you understand that to get people out of cars, there needs to be a more convenient, more cost/effective, more affordable, door-to-door way of getting around. If you get people to give up their car-gene by replacing it with a rail-gene, you have merely crippled peoples' ability travel.
There are many "sins" connected to the Dumbarton proposal. Not the least is the dishonesty about the real costs. The present projection of $600 million (which they don't have) is a typical low-ball number. (Bay Bridge? Homer tunnel? Transbay terminal? Boston "Big Dig"?)
We have heard about the condition of the existing rail bridge. Will a retro-fit meet CPUC and FRA standards for seismic impact? Will they discover, to their amazement, that the bridge will have to come down and a new one built? What do you suppose the price for that would be?