Part of the Bay Area News Group

one down, 47 to go?

By enelson
Monday, April 30th, 2007 at 6:15 pm in BART, Buses, Caltrans, driving, Fare systems, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, rail, Safety, Transit vs. driving.

There, now. That didn’t hurt a bit, did it?

Now all everybody has to do is rinse and repeat until Caltrans says we can start our engines again.

In the meantime, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is wrangling local transit agencies and the Federal Highway Administration to figure out what kind of extra services will be needed to get us through this mess for the next month or so.

“We need to make sure that the service that we’re putting out on the street is being used,” says Randy Rentschler, who speaks for the commission before both the public and other government bodies. He’ll no doubt be using all of his skills of oratory in the coming days to convince potential federal and state benefactors that a couple of closed ramps are enough of an emergency to rate disaster funding.

With commuters being so well-behaved this afternoon, they’ve made his job a little harder, I suspect.

One thing that won’t cost so much is the estimated $2.5 million that free transit from 25 or so Bay Area transit agencies will cost. That’s ending as of midnight, and tomorrow everyone will have to shell out fare money as well as figure out fare machines and ask themselves, “Just how do these transit-riding peasants do this every day, anyway?”

Plan B, which calls for getting a daily allocation for expanded service, rather than free service, will involve a lot less money, Rentschler told me. Less, as in fewer zeros.

That smaller amount of money will pay for additional operating costs, such as driver overtime, service to put more buses and rail cars into service, fuel for additional ferries, dockerworkers, conductors and station agents.

I asked if the money might come from the gas sales tax “spillover” fund, which Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget would divert to uses other than public transportation, but Randy wouldn’t bite.

Today was a success, with much mobilization of time and talent out of Sacramento, and nobody was about to let me spoil that.

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