Transportation Day of Action in Oakland Tomorrow!

21 Jul

Disclosure: I am working on a part time, short term basis for TransForm on the Oakland Airport Connector campaign. However, the thoughts expressed in my posts on this subject are my own and should not be construed to be those of TransForm.

You hopefully have already noted that the MTC hearing on the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) is tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10am, but you might not know about the nationwide transportation day of action on which the hearing coincidentally falls. Several advocacy groups will be joining together to hold a mock funeral to mourn the loss of transit lines in the Bay Area due to lack of funding for operations. After the funeral, advocates will march to the MTC hearing to urge them not to provide further funding to the OAC.

Though the timing of these two events is coincidental, they are tied together quite closely. While the state and federal government have been slashing operating funds, the stimulus bill has pumped tons of money into capital improvements for transportation. So while BART and MTC may end up wasting more than half a billion dollars on the OAC, including $70 million in stimulus funds, BART, AC Transit, and Muni are slashing service and raising fares.

It’s time we get our priorities straight, not only by prioritizing public transit over highway expansion, but also by prioritizing operations funding within transit funding. What is the use of a shiny new bus if we can’t afford to pay someone to drive it? What is the use of an extension to the Oakland Airport that will only draw 400 new riders a day, when it will suck funding from the entire BART system?

Please attend the funeral tomorrow to mourn public transit losses and then head over to the MTC meeting to win back some of this transit funding by halting funding to the OAC.

Here is the info, via a press release from Public Advocates:

WHAT: Wearing black and carrying a coffin, transit advocates will stage a mock funeral to mourn the death of crucial public transit lines in the Bay Area due to a lack of funding for operations. The event is tied to a National Day of Action called by Transit Riders for Public Transportation (TRPT), a national campaign led by environmental justice and civil rights groups, to highlight the need to provide funding for transit operations in the Federal Surface Transportation Authorization Act currently being considered in the US House of Representatives.

WHEN: Wednesday July 22, 2009 8:30am-9:30am

WHERE: Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612 (Corner of 14th St. and Broadway, outside of the 12St/Oakland City Center BART station)

WHO: Representatives from Public Advocates Inc.; Urban Habitat; TransForm; Genesis; CALPIRG; and BOSS. John Gioia, Supervisor for Western Contra Costa County; Dominique Nisperos reading a statement from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. A number of other elected officials have been invited.

WHY: With transit service cuts affecting people locally and around the nation, operating funds for public transit are sorely needed. Federal legislation offers the best current hope for preventing further service cuts in our communities. Representatives Barbara Lee (D, CA-9th) and Jerry McNerney (D, CA-11th) are co-sponsoring HR 2746 (Rep. Carnahan, D, MO-3rd) which would give local transit systems the flexibility to use anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of their federal capital grants for local operations. Event organizers are calling on other members of the Bay Area congressional delegation to sign onto the bill and advocate for dedicating federal funds specifically for transit operations in any new federal transportation legislation.

And the info for the MTC meeting:

What: MTC Meeting on Oakland Airport Connector Funding

When: Wednesday, July 22nd @ 10 am

Where: MTC Headquarters (101 Eighth St near Lake Merritt BART)

Previous posts on the Oakland Airport Connector:

8 Responses to “Transportation Day of Action in Oakland Tomorrow!”

  1. Max Allstadt July 21, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    I hope the MTC meeting goes well (I know they’re the toughest sell of the bunch).

    As for the funeral: Boo! What exactly does this accomplish? Hyperbole, theatrics… really? I thought that was beneath transit wonks and best left to 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

    • Becks July 21, 2009 at 9:18 am #

      I entirely disagree Max and am honestly surprised that you, as an artist, would not understand how effective artistic actions can be. Would you rather transit advocates hold a boring protests with the same old signs? You think that would get the message across better than a funeral? (Which I think perfectly captures what has happened to operations funding.)

      • dto510 July 21, 2009 at 11:57 am #

        I think transit advocates should award the MTC with a dunce cap.

        • Becks July 21, 2009 at 11:59 am #

          Somehow I don’t think that would help our case tomorrow.

  2. Max Allstadt July 21, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    I generally think that there are only a few kinds of theatrics that work.

    Disruptive, as in blocking traffic or intersections. That will get coverage.

    Wildly original or funny, as in levitating the Pentagon.

    Spit in the face, as in the Pirate Bay’s acts of defiance.

    If it’s not any of those, don’t expect attention. And even if it is one of those three types, there’s no telling what kind of attention you’ll get. Any exposure is not good exposure.

  3. Naomi Schiff July 22, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    What’s neede is to get to those commissioners through groups they know and respect, long before the meeting. Unfortunately in this case they are far apart and subject to all kinds of pressure and local politics in their own jurisdictions. Theatrics are good for attracting attention, but probably have to occur longer before a vote, and in places where the swing votes will see them and their constituents notice too. Pretty tough in an areawide body, but we shouldn’t give up. Added exposure should help, and the thing that I’d think might be needed now is a political analysis of which people on which bodies might possibly be convinced to put on the brakes. Unfortunately, a parade of locals can only go so far in convincing some person from a distant suburb.

  4. Daniel Schulman (das88) July 23, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    I witnessed the first part of the funeral. It came off better than I had expected, but that is only because my expectations were so low. The transit advocates are pretty good at arranging for media coverage. It would be nice to keep getting more celebrity power at events.

    Naomi is completely right that we need to find new avenues to the far-flung board members. Perhaps, they need to be reminded of transit projects in their areas that will be ignored or delayed as OAC sucks out regional funds.

    I do think, though, a more Oakland-centric strategy could be effective. When Larry Reid shows up for and Rebecca Kaplan against, I think these regional bodies perceive the Oakland City stance as being divided and not all that important. In reality, I think there is a lot of potential opposition to the OAC among city officials. If another council member or two showed up at these regional bodies, I think the votes might have been different. This is especially the case if these bodies start seeing a potential show-stopper from losing right-of-ways.

    Perhaps, if transit advocates provided a brief summary of happenings at open-forums, local opposition to stop this silly project will build.

  5. R Kaplan July 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    Thanks for coverage on this. I’ll write more later about the substance of this discussion of the OAC, but first, a process issue: Some have asked me why Oakland City Council did not plan to receive an update and take action on this issue until the fall — and I wanted to share the video (thanks V. for uploads) which explains why….

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