Bay Area expects big bucks from Prop 1A fundsBy Mike Rosenberg
BART, Caltrain and other depleted Bay Area train agencies are collectively expecting hundreds of millions of dollars in high-speed-rail bond money to upgrade transit service.
Five Bay Area train operators say they are entitled to as much as $400 million of projects to accommodate the $42.6 billion bullet train that would run along the Caltrain tracks from San Francisco to San Jose on its way to Los Angeles. They include the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Francisco Muni and the Altamont Commuter Express.
Most face budget problems that have led to higher fares and less frequent service, in large part because the state has eliminated all transit funding help. But as soon as July, they expect to find aid through the $9.9 billion Proposition 1A bond California voters approved in November 2008.
Although $9 billion of Proposition 1A was earmarked for high-speed rail, $950 million was set aside for regional transit improvements that would accommodate the bullet train.
The California Transportation Commission reserved $745 million for 10 transit agencies in December, leaving each train operator this week to apply for its share of the money and prove its projects qualify. The commission calculated each agency's share based on track length, service levels and ridership.
BART appears on track for more than twice as much money as any agency in the state, and on Thursday its board of directors is expected to approve an application for $257 million.
BART would put $150 million of the 1A money toward its $1 billion project to replace its rail cars. It says it has federal money for the rest of the project. The rest of BART's high-speed-rail money would go toward increasing seat capacity in cars, the Hayward yard maintenance complex, Embarcadero and Montgomery station upgrades, train control reliability and an operations control center.
Caltrain, meanwhile, will apply for $40 million as part of its project to electrify its diesel railroad, which will be necessary to accommodate bullet trains. VTA is eligible to apply for up to $26 million. It said it may use part of its share for Caltrain electrification, while Muni said it will seek $61 million to improve rail connections. ACE train operators said they will apply for $15 million for upgrades to service, Altamont corridor environmental studies, track enhancements and connectivity improvements.
Copyright ©2010 Bay Area News Group. Published 03/09/2010.