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park it on the bus

By enelson
Friday, June 9th, 2006 at 8:09 pm in BART, Buses, Planning, transit equity, Transit vs. driving.

In hopes of starting a regular Capricious Commuter Guest Flame-Fest on issues of interest, here is an e-mail from former BART director Roy Nakadegawa, P.E., to Tim Hunt, associate publisher of the Pleasanton-based Tri-Valley Herald, talking about Hunt’s commentary on a lack of parking at subway stations, in the Bay Area and on a trip to the Washington, D.C., Area.:

mini parking sign.jpg

It’s the classic suburban vs. urban view of transit, in my humble opinion, but read for yourself.

I was reviewing my various email and found I never responded to your misguided view on parking.

Your note on what I expressed about lack of parking on your trip to DC
with Amador Civics team on May 14, 2006, Oakland Tribune was:


Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, former BART and AC Transit Director Roy Nakadegawa saw my commentary about the Amador civics team and public transit in Washington, D.C.

Roy’s response, that ran Saturday, [ I checked the Saturday paper and even other people asked me for the Saturday copy but nothing there] to what he described as my car-oriented comments about lack of parking at (Washington Area) Metro stations exemplifies the difference between those of us who live in the suburbs and city dwellers.

I beg to differ with Roy’s analysis and would offer simply the reality that most of us are unlikely to rely on two modes of public transportation in areas that are not densely populated. To limit parking in a Virgina suburb is the same ill-advised social engineering mindset that some BART officials have used to limit parking at key suburb terminal stations.

Nobody expects parking at Montgomery Street or Civic Center in San Francisco, but almost everyone expects it at Dublin-Pleasant on or the Fremont station.

Associate Publisher Tim Hunt’s column appears Sundays.

Your REALITY totally disregards overall public costs of providing parking and its social inequity. The overall cost to build West Pittsburg BART extension at $150 million per mile was just over half a billion dollars. Around 4,000 parking spaces were provided and this portion of line was estimated to provide 13,000+ trips per day after 20 years operation. If all the spaces were utilized, they would generate about 9,000 trips per weekday (1.125 per space times 2 for trips to/from BART) or roughly 70% of the Extensions trips. I calculate the cost for each rider would be over $35 per trip or $70 round trip and the fare collected would be less than $3 or $6 per day round trip at the most.

So, the daily subsidy would be $64 per day which is about what a family of four gets on welfare. But the BART trip is usually a quarter of that person’s total daily trip.

AT Balboa Park Station has no parking, so 50% of BART users pay and additional local transit fare to use BART.

And BART’s survey showed that household incomes of Balboa Park BART user over $60,000 was 40% less the West Pittsburg, the lowest suburban household income station of BART

Overall parking only generates about 30% of the total daily BART trips while most BART users living in dense urban areas riders access BART other than the auto. Adding to this inequity is that the operation/maintenance of parking is paid from fares by 70% of the riders who do not use parking.

Spending such large sums for public transit should be expended in an orderly, rational and equitable manner. But you seem to support Reality as providing inequity of services and cost.

-Roy Nakadegawa P.E.

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7 Responses to “park it on the bus”

  1. Joel B. Says:

    Nakadegawa seems like exactly the kind of person that I would expect to see had been heading BART. Especially given the BART seems to direct their funds, and their general attitude toward suburban commuters.

    This is exactly why, I greatly dislike to patronize BART, they penalize folks in the suburbs, because they somehow seem to think that folks in the suburbs are sinners…or something. Who knows. In any event, what Nakadegawa, quickly glosses over (of course) is that in his calculation of the subsidy, is he including the fact that people in West Pittsburg, or …Livermore have been paying taxes on a system they are not getting the benefit of that they have been and will continue to “subsidize” BART, public transit depends on subsidies so pointing out that extending public transit is a waste of money is kind of like pointing out the sky is blue. Thanks there for that I feel illuminated.

    Where Nakadegawa gets his numbers for this subsidy as well I am also confused. Let’s take his 10,000 trips a day, @ over $10 to get to Montgomery you’re looking at taking in 100,000 per day. In 5,000 days, the capital expenditure will have been paid off. So, it will take about 17 years to pay off, assuming stable fares hack hack so maybe only 10 years, (weekends are going to generate less than weekdays). Now, would a private investor make such an investment, probably not, but that’s the point of government and a tax that Livermorians and Pittsburgites agreed to pay into with the rest of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. And even if the response back that the extension creates additional ongoing costs, that must be harshly questioned, because yes costs do increase but what is the genuine marginal cost of running the trains that much further out. I doubt it is much at all. So where this subsidy is coming from again I am confused.

    Apparently in Nakadegawa’s “REALITY” it’s okay for the suburban folk to get shafted subsidising BART, but when it comes time for the suburban folk to cash in their chips and get the extensions that were PROMISED to them when the system was first created this is some kind of unfair subsidy. (Somehow that’s not my defination of subsidy, but who knows, maybe I just don’t understand “REALITY” like Roy.)

    All the while BART is dying to get the system extended to San Jose when the big question should be WHY? In Nakadegawa’s “REALITY,” they extended BART to Milbrae because??? That didn’t work out so well at the start now did it. BUT…extending BART to Livermore and meeting up at the ACE station which would allow people to not to have to park at BART, that great sin, be far cheaper than extending to San Jose (there’s already freeway median available for it) is off the table, and having ACE meet up with BART in Fremont is just too silly for our transit planners. But when you’re coming up against “REALITY” then hey what can you do.

  2. Leslie Stewart Says:

    You know, one time I asked Roy whether he would be willing to divert the parking lot money he complained about giving suburban stations and make it into a subsidy to the local buses so that more people could get good transit to get to BART. He dodged the question.

    In fairness, I seem to remember that Nakadegawa was not in favor of BART to Millbrae/SFO. However, he never seemed to understand Joel B’s point that BART was originally designed as a system to bring suburbanites into the central city areas and that if you were going to change the rules, you had to get buy-in for that by satisfying the needs of the original partners. It’s probably fair to ask cities which want BART stations to get more people living close to the BART line, it’s not fair to tell them that they’ll have to do that because there will not be parking. Particularly at end-point stations like Bay Point, which are understood to draw from a considerable distance, parking has to be adequate or you are creating an attractive nuisance for the city housing the station (unless the city sees an opportunity to grab some parking revenue).

  3. Roy Nakadegawa Says:

    Reply to Joel and Leslie

    Joel claims I my calcs were grossly made but they were based on actual data on the cost and operation of the extension. His are without foundation, confused and flagrantly gross for he does not include the annual operational costs or the fact that it takes years before the estimated ridership develops and that over the weekend the ridership is considerably lower. In addition, he cites a trip to SF but the estimate I made is just only for the Concord extension. .

    Another point he raises is held by many people living in suburbs, is that they deserve BART for it was promised and they have been paying taxes for it for years. He is being naïve implying this, for Bond and Tax elections that specific projects cannot include a promise like extensions for it will make the election illegal.

    When the public last voted on Measure 2, all the projects were primarily oriented to bridge crossing and many traveling within the county will not benefit from this measure, yet it passed.

    Actually, I voted against the original BART Bond because it was my position that the property around the station should have been assessed far more than low-density suburbs, but the assessment was imposed uniformly across the three counties. This included vast areas in eastern county that was not developed back in the 1960s.

    I have been very involved in overall transportation and development as a former Elected Director to BART and AC Transit serving 32 years and retiring as an Acting City Traffic Engineer. I currently serve on a TRB’s (Transportation Research Board, a branch of the Academy of Science) Committee titled “Public Transportation Planning and Development”. The Committee recognizes that we provide excessive parking that encourages more auto use and congestion.

    As Leslie mentioned I opposed the SFO/Millbrae BART extension but I also oppose the San Jose Extension (SJX) as well. SJX EIR/S indicates they are providing close to 10,000 parking spaces, most will be in structure where its currently cost $25,000-30,000 pe space so 10,000 spaces will cost over a quarter billion dollars. The cost per trip MTC originally estimated was $100.29 per trip. The EIR/S assumed extensive development around the stations would develop, such as housing in San Jose downtown area increasing over 20 fold in 20 years and similarly around all the other stations, which brought down the cost per trip to $35.20.

    And for Leslie’s question about the use of feeder buses in lieu of parking. I am sorry that I did not answer her. The answer depends on the density of the area. For the denser East Bay areas such as El Cerrito I made a rough analysis and determined it will be possible because over 80% of its riders live with 2 miles of El Cerrito Plaza Station. But for a more sprawled area where the buses have to travel much more it may not.

    As for the original purpose of BART being built, I recognize BART was to support inter urban area but again extending it so far was overly costly. I’ve been to South America, Japan, Canada and read of Brisbane, Australia where they have utilized busways at far less cost that does as good or better job of providing this service.

    Overall it is a mistake to extend a Metro system as BART into low density areas. Traveling to Europe, Japan or Hong Kong totaling over dozen times one will see most of their Metros seldom exceed 10-12 mile in length and they do not provide public parking. Almost any city of 500,000 or more will not have just a single Metro line as San Francisco but 3 or more. For intercity rail service like to Livermore or San Jose they utilize the commuter rail system. Metr are not extended Primarily because of cost effectiveness.

    I have written extensively about the ineffectiveness of SJX for it will do nothing on relieving the congestion. And using just the operating cost per year estimated for SJX, by increasing the commuter rail serving the same corridor, Capitol Corridor Train 2 trips per year and one will still have $300 million to invest on the Capitol system improvements. Again this is using just SJX annual operating cost. Doing this the public will save spending the capital cost which will be clearly over $5 billion for the SJX!

    I believe I lost this last 2004 Election, the first of 10 elections for my opponent spent more than 100 times what I did. And the BART Unions contributed over $20,000 to his campaign. On the Union’s last negotiated package while they were already in the 90 percentile bracket the package was an excessive 22% wage increase over 4 years plus an additional 2% in benefits and as much I support unions, I represent the public, so I was the only Board member to vote against this package!

    I the last 3 elections I never accepted campaign contributions over $99. The 1996 election I received over 91,000 votes and spent less than $900, resulting in the cost per vote at less than a penny a vote.

    With my background and expertise I apply cost-effectiveness, impacts on our environment, social equity, and pragmatics for I know the public is concerned with cost. We should expend the public funds in the most cost-effective manner.

    Sorry for being so long.


  4. Joel B. Says:


    I wasn’t really expecting a response, but I’m glad I did, I fear, that of all the BART directors that are on the board, I would probably agree with Roy on more than the rest. The fact that you voted against the very taxpayer unfriendly package is quite encouraging. I find that quite depressing that you a. lost, b. that I probably agree with you more than any of the other BART directors.

    My fear I guess, is that your comments, merely confirm what I already feel about BART, which is that they do not recognize the way people really live. Getting people out of their cars will take more than forcing people to live in high-density housing. People generally, do not want that.

    Generally, my back of the envelope numbers were based off of what was in the original post, and I did not realize that the 13,000 + rides was a after 20 years numbers (which includes I imagine a substantial amount of population growth as well). I did however, recognize, that weekend numbers were far lower. I also, shortly addressed the operating costs issue, because I am genuinely curious as to the actual marginal cost of running BART even 8 miles further out. I am skeptical that the marginal cost would be great, but I would be happy to know what the actual numbers are. I will admit to being kind of confused as to why my numbers into SF are inappropriate after all aren’t the plurality of rides from Bay Point to the downtown S.F. stations? Would we expect these new stations to be different?

    I readily recognize, that legally very little can be “promised” to voters, the greater point just being that before BART goes chasing San Jose, they should (“morally” not legally) fulfill what they said they would do.

    I am amazed to hear that parking would cost so much, part of the reason, that I like getting BART to Livermore, is to meet up at the Livermore Transit Center with ACE, this would allow BART, to better leverage the ACE system, and could better integrate regional transit.

    In any event, I am sorry to hear that you were not retained, I moved out to Tracy in 2004, and chose SJ as my work location because I found Ace to be a much more suburban friendly system. I am sure, that politically we are quite far apart, but apparently closer than I am to others on the BART board. That you opposed the Millbrae extension is largely to your credit. Thanks again, and I apologize if I was overharsh in my initial comment, I read more hostility in your original correspondence than there was, I apologize.

  5. Don Boeri Says:

    Exactly what is considered ‘public transportation’?

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