Transit Officials Abuse Taxpayer Dollars

There’s been a lot of criticism about the amount of taxpayer money spent to send numerous Bay Area transit officials to attend the annual American Public Transportation Agency (APTA) conference in New Orleans.

Attending were 4 elected BART directors (Board President Bob Franklin, VP John McPartland, Directors Joel Keller and Gail Murray) plus 9 BART employees, 8 Tri Delta Transit board members, including Antioch Mayor Jim Davis and County Supervisor Federal Glover, plus 3 staffers (a 9th board member Mary Erbez paid her own way), 5 County Connection board members and 2 executives, 2 board members and 1 staffer from A.C. Transit (2 other employees went but the agency didn’t pay their costs) and no board members and just one employee from Wheels, the Tri-Valley transit counterpart.

This year’s annual conference was held in conjunction with EXPO 2011 as it is every 3 years. Supposedly, the purpose of the EXPO is for suppliers to provide information regarding new products and promote public transportation. The website contains all usual propaganda, for example, public transit supports the national goal of energy independence, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, reduced traffic congestion, health and wellness and provides innovative energy solutions.

The next one APTA/EXPO in 2014 is being held in Houston, Texas which hopefully won’t hold the same allure, leading to another abuse of taxpayer dollars.

BART spent the most bucks sending 4 Directors and 9 staff members on the New Orleans trip and frankly, it has the weakest excuse because they’ve already chosen the supplier of their new fleet. If you check out their web site, you’ll find a link to their New Train Car Project site which contains a photo of BART’s Fleet of the Future, new train cars designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

All the details are there, for example, 50 seats on cab cars and 68 seats in other cars, easier to clean, wipe able seats, clean, durable non-slip floors – no musty carpets, handholds and poles mounted on seat backs, bike racks on some train cars etc.

NOTE: In another blow to taxpayers, The Bay Area Toll Authority, an affiliate of MTC, voted 8 to 6 to give Metropolitan Transportation Commission the go ahead to spend $93 million dollars, funded in part by bridge toll money, for a new headquarters in San Francisco.

Incidentally, MTC is seeking approval for another 290 miles of combined toll and carpool lanes in the Bay Area and is contemplating polling voters for a possible ballot measure next year to raise gas taxes in the Bay Area by up to 10 cents per gallon to pay for roads, freeways and public transit.

Fortunately the ballot measure would require 2/3 approval of voters in the region and I can’t imagine happening in this faltering economy.

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