February 2005

Bay Bridge Follies
Letters to the Editor
New Ship Sails to Sausalito–Opportunities for All!
Mare Island Welcome Center is Now Open in Historic Mansion
Dispatch from the Dogpatch… A SeAm Between
In Richmond Today
Crab Fest Fever
Afterguard’s Broiled
Salmon Afloat
Bay Crossings Gardens
“Food from the Heart” at the Ferry Building Marketplace
Giant Storms in LA Affect Bay Area
WTA Pages…Ferry Rewards
Minds Meet at Underwater Forum on California’s Ocean Future
Bay Ghost Phenomenon
Bay Crossings Calendar
New Horizons at Webster Street’s Arts & Crafts Campus
Love, Lust, and Heartbreak

Letter tothe Editor

Dear Mr. Span,
Since you’re apparently reluctant to check a few facts, let the facts come to you:
1. Both the ACE and the Capitol Corridor trains have nearly exhausted the track capacity available to them. This problem will only get worse. That fact was lost on the Grand Jury, too.
2. Construction on the Millbrae BART Station began first because the others required work by another contract before the station contractors could start. Our agreement with SFIA required a Millbrae Station. At no point was it ever suggested to delete a station.
3. As for the most expensive per passenger rail proposal in the Bay Area, that would belong to the Caltrain Downtown Extension.
Next time you’d like to write about BART, give BART a call.  That’s what journalists do.
Cam Bauer

Guy Span Replies:
All of us lazy reporters like it when the facts are herded to us, rather than having to hunt for them. You are absolutely correct that the Capital Corridor between San Jose, Oakland, and Sacramento is near capacity. What you do not say is that the current long-term Capital Improvement plan (Fiscal Year 2005 and beyond) calls for capacity enhancing investments, totaling some $289.5 million. This would add tracks, raise speeds, improve signals, improve stations, and close grade crossings. Spending a little more a little sooner could bring even more additional service here a little quicker.
Knowing that we can spend a reasonable amount of money (compared to $4.6 billion) to provide service enhancements to San Jose simply means that the current capacity issue is a resolvable one. While I am not suggesting that the proposed improvements will provide the same level of service as BART to San Jose (and certainly not suggesting that people will ride the BART line in significant numbers), it does become apparent that real rail is a more fiscally sound approach. The proposed Capital Corridor investments are using the same amount of money to build 6.3% of a new BART line to San Jose. The reason real rail is more effective is that we are adding capacity in an existing corridor, not building a brand new parallel one for $4.6 billion, before cost overruns.
Again, your comment that CalTrain’s outrageously expensive proposed tunnel to the Transbay Terminal is the costliest heavy rail project in the Bay Area is somewhat disingenuous, as it implies other heavy rail projects would be more expensive than building BART extensions. In most cases, this is simply not true by a rather large factor. However, you do make a good point that the entire Transbay extravaganza is subject to the same criticisms as the opinion piece leveled at BART. We’ll get around to them, too.