The Obama administration on Friday took away $70 million in federal stimulus funds from BART’s planned automated guideway to the airport for civil rights violations. The move by the Federal Transit Administration could mean that BART’s years-old plan for the $500 million airport connector is now dead in the water. FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff also threatened to take the entire $70 million away from the Bay Area unless the Metropolitan Transportation Commission redirects the funds immediately to other qualifying transit projects. That means that cash-strapped AC Transit stands to receive nearly $7 million in new funding.
Last month, Rogoff had warned BART and the MTC that he would take away the $70 million unless BART immediately devised a corrective action plan for its civil rights violations. The feds got involved in the issue after East Bay transit and social-justice activists filed an official complaint alleging that BART had failed to fully analyze the effects on minorities as required under the 1964 Civil Rights Act of replacing a $3 shuttle to the airport with an expensive automated guideway that will cost passengers up to $6 each way.
In today’s letter, Rogoff noted that the complaint it received was “well founded,” and said that BART had failed to come up with an adequate plan in the pasto correct its violations in the past few weeks. That plan would have required that BART complete an equity study and come into compliance by September 30, which BART acknowledged would have been impossible. The airport connector had been considered dead at the beginning of 2009, but came back to life thanks to Obama’s stimulus package. And now that the stimulus money has been revoked, the airport connector may be put back on the shelf.
Hat Tip to the Oakland blog, Liiving in the O, for breaking this story.