To Donald, from Ben: Don’t fund Honolulu’s train

By Catherine Cruz : kitv – excerpt (includes video)

HONOLULU – Former Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano took out a full page ad in Friday’s Washington Post newspaper.  The letter calls on the President to terminate Honolulu’s Full Funding Agreement for transit.

“Honolulu’s rail project does not deserve a single dollar more from the federal government.  It has become a poster boy of how politics, incompetence, disinformation and outright lies are at the root of wasteful  projects which do little for the public except raise taxes.”

The ad also notes that the city is at least $3 billion short and six years behind schedule.

The ad comes as the legislature decides next week on whether to extend the half percent excise tax an extra two years or another ten.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell released the following statement:

“The people of O’ahu have now gone through three election cycles where rail was the issue of the day, and each time affirmed that rail should be completed as originally planned with 20 miles of guideway and 21 stations. In each of those elections, ads like the one that appeared in today’s Washington Post were paid for by those who oppose the project, as is their right under the First Amendment. I remain focused on working really hard to extend the city’s half-percent rail surcharge for at least another 10 years. This will allow the country’s first driverless train to reach all the way to Ala Moana Center and ensure a viable project. That’s what the people of O‘ahu expect, and that’s what I’m concentrating on.”

Tune in to KITV Island News at 5, 6 and 10 as rail proponents react to this latest campaign… (more)

California is not alone in the quest for bogus transit project funds. Governor is already under attack for the “pothole” gas tax he just signed. People are watching that money and there is already a recall effort out of San Diego.

Head of California high-speed rail project calls it quits

yahoo – excerpt

The head of California’s $64 billion high-speed rail project said Friday he’s stepping down after five years pushing forward a vision of 220-mph trains that still faces stiff resistance from lawmakers and the public. Jeff Morales, 57, told The Chronicle that uncertainty over the project’s future had nothing to do with his resignation, only a genuine desire to move aside after breaking ground on the nation’s largest infrastructure project. Morales, who sent his resignation letter to Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, plans to remain chief executive officer of the California High Speed Rail Authority through June 2, long enough to find his replacement. In May 2012, Morales was hired by the rail authority’s board as the project struggled to get off the ground, with agency staffing stalled, lawsuits looming over rights-of-way, and the Legislature yet to commit to construction. […] the agency has bought up more than 1,000 parcels of land and hired a handful of contractors to begin building 119 miles of rail line between Madera and Bakersfield. […] in Sacramento, the state’s cap-and-trade program, which essentially sells pollution credits to industry to fund projects like high-speed rail, has failed to meet revenue expectations. […] he worked as a senior vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff, an international transportation firm that has been a primary contractor for the rail authority…(more)

State Seeks Hefty Fine For BART in Deaths of Two Workers

Jaxon Van Derbeken reports for ncb investigates : nbcbayarea – excerpt (includes video)

State regulators want to fine the transit agency for alleged safety lapses in the deaths of two track workers hit by a train during a strike in 2013. NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit obtained BART’s own surveillance video of the accident that shows how the rookie operator tried but failed to sound the horn before hitting the workers… (more)

The 22nd Street Caltrain Station To Stay, But Needs Better Accessibility

by Shane Downing : hoodline – excerpt

Earlier this week, Socketsite suggested that the 22nd Street Caltrain station could be removed or relocated, based on a new study.

But Planning Department spokesperson Gina Simi says that suggestion, which appeared in a number of other local publications, is “simply inaccurate.”

What is happening is that a study on railyard alternatives and the I-280 boulevard is currently being conducted. As part of the study, the Citizens Working Group (CWG)—comprised of 21 members without decision-making power—was asked to weigh in on priorities and concerns about the forthcoming Transbay Transit Center, redeveloping the Caltrain depot at 4th & King streets, and tearing down I-280’s northern terminus in San Francisco…

However, the real issue at stake was not the removal of the 22nd street stop. Instead, improving ADA access and connecting the 22nd Street station to San Francisco’s street grid and other transportation, which were supported by 90 percent of respondents, are bigger priorities for Planning… (more)

How BART strike ban could be key to big transportation package

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

The big and bold blitz by Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers to raise the gas tax and vehicle license fee to pay for a $52 billion fix-up of the state’s crumbling roads, rails and bridges has hit a speed bump right here in the Bay Area — thanks to a trio of suburban lawmakers saying, “Not so fast.”

The lead doubter is state Sen. Steve Glazer, a moderate Democrat whose district stretches from Livermore up to Orinda and over to Brentwood. Not only is he tax-averse, but his single biggest concern is outlawing BART strikes like the two that made life miserable for his constituents in 2013 — and word is, he won’t vote for the transportation package unless it contains such a ban…

The two other Bay Area question marks on the mega-transportation and tax plan are Democratic Assemblyman Timothy Grayson of Concord and GOP Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon — both from the same neck of the woods as Glazer…

Last week, a KPIX-5/Survey USA statewide poll found that only 23 percent of Californians surveyed think taxes and fees need to be raised for roads, compared with 61 percent who think Caltrans should spend its money more efficiently… (more)

At this point the riders are going on their own strike as fewer riders are showing up for the service on weekends, BART is losing more support from the public that is conducting its own vote by choosing more comfortable and reliable modes when possible.