MTC approves $91 Million for the BART Warm Springs extension

Here’s my story on this in today’s paper. Thanks to Mike on Bike for bringing up good info. I’m no expert on the MTC.

For the first time the BART to Warm Springs project is fully funded, although some conditions apply.

the $91 million was loaned from the Dumbarton Rail Project, which, if it’s ever built, would run trains from Union City across the Bay to SF and SJ.

MTC vote was foregone conclusion, but good news for Fremont, bad news for Union City.

Matt Artz


  1. When Bart goes to San Jose, there will be no need for The Dumbarton Train, it never will be built

  2. Yes, because two trains, one transfer and and 1.5 hours to get to Palo Alto from Fremont is a grand solution!

    Better invest in those Terra Passes, Bay Area lefties.

  3. Fully funded? Not quite.


    Of the $890M cost:

    $220M can’t be spent until Santa Clara County fully funds a BART extension across the county line. They’re still a billion or two short. They’re asking for another 1/8 cent tax this November. The 1/8 cent tax, if it passes with a 2/3 vote, isn’t quite enough to cover their operating expenses, let alone capital shortfalls. But it might be just barely enough to qualify them to try to compete for Federal funding.

    $54M from SFO extension “profits” is pure fantasy.

    Meanwhile, the Fremont vs. Union City aspect of this debate is silly. If a Fremont resident works on the peninsula, how is this good news for them? If a Union City resident works in Warm Springs, how is this bad news for them?

  4. Peninsula residents dont want another rail corridor running down their limited real estate – there’s already a Cal Train/SP corridor running north and south that is underutilized – BART will never make it south of SFO.

    Trying to push BART into Santa Clara/San Jose when they’ve already got VTA/Cal Train has some prospect but never “loops” the bay.

    Personally – the Bay Area geography has pretty good coverage with North-South corridors on both the Peninsula and East Bayshore – we need more East-West corridors from the Pennisula to the Coast, across the Bay, and from the East Bay Shore into the Valley. These East/West corridors will be expensive but have been repeatedly identified as limiting factors in development and grwoth of Bay Area economies.

    For all of these reasons, pressing Bart further south is a waste – for the most part – Dumbarton Rail is a far more advantageous investment over the long haul..

  5. OT, but related to Cattlemens and Black Angus closing down, what’s up with Sizzler? I drove by on Mowry in Newark and now the restaurant is “Lime Lite.”

    What happened to Sizzler? I know these days Sizzler caters to Senior Citizens, but Sizzler in Tri City area has had a crazy history: First you had to go to Hayward for Sizzler, then one opened at Peralta and Fremont.

    That then closed, and Sizzler opened up in Newark at Stevenson and Ballantine.

    Then THAT closed and Sizzler was opened in Newark near the intersection of Mowry and Cedar, across from Bombay Garden.

    You should do a story on this. Thanks.

  6. Dumbarton Rail is ill-conceived and over-priced based on the ridership estimates as they have been stated in the latest projections.

    People need a mass transit solution to the south bay before they need one crossing the Dumbarton corridor. I can go from my home in Niles to my job off University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto in less time than I could go from my house to the Fremont/Milpitas border. Heaven help me if I worked all the way in San Jose.

    Fremont didn’t want the lay-over yard and rail realignment that would have come with the Dumbarton Rail. It would have been a major disruption for quite a few neighborhoods and driven property values down even further.

    Union City wanted Dumbarton Rail because it would give further raison d’etre to their bloated “transit center” that used to be the Union City BART station.

    And OT – You’re worried about Sizzler? Seriously?

  7. So if I need to go west first I go south, then west, then north, correct?
    Like the old saying goes, you can’t get there from here.

  8. Doug get’s it – Jen needs to check out Bay Area traffic patterns and projections into the future – the relatively modest congestion she alludes to on 880 SB (in a lame attempt to rationalize BART to San Jose) is nothing compared to what will happen with the (count’em on one hand) east-west corridors we have through the major geographical barriers that carve up the Bay Area. These east-west arteries (which include Bay crossings) are conservatively projected to be in a state of round-the-clock bumper-to-bumper traffic sometime within the next 10-15 years (depending on assumptions you make about bay area traffic growth) . . .

    And forget the projections – – BART – – – for the reasons previously stated will not move south of SFO. BART recieves considerable loss of forward momentum the further it attempts to reach into the South Bay. . . net, net – maybe, Warm Springs – maybe Milpitas – but by then competition with established VTA and rail transit systems make BART a white elephant . . . . for the same reason you mention (lack of ridership) – the entire Peninsula sees absolutely no reason to bring another rail right-of-way through their limited real estate.

  9. To say that an east-west rail corridor is “ill-conceived” is ridiculous. NYC has over a dozen subway and rail lines crossing the Hudson and East rivers. We have a bus.

    As encouraging as it is to see those who opposed the DRC are so enthused about Bart to the south bay, it is more than transparent that the crux of the matter is that some of us were dumb enough to buy homes next to rail road tracks.

  10. Hey Marty, ouch! We have the UP behind our home. All things considered, i.e., major freeway with traffic 24/7, or a cluster of megahomes staring down into our yard, or low income, high-density housing, I’ll take the tracks.
    By 2013-2014 (maybe), we’ll have BART tracks even closer to our backyard! Oh well, that’s progress. It’s what we get for living in an area with too many people.

  11. More transportation options are pretty much always good, but we really need density and people living within walking distance or a short bus ride to work and services. The current system of sprawl sends too many billions of dollars out for oil.

  12. I can’t figure out why people keep comparing the Bay Area and it’s transit set up to a large city such as New York City. It’s comparing apples to oranges –

    People take BART into SF – I would say 75% of the riders get off at the first three SF stations. The businesses that employ those riders are within a reasonable walking distance from those BART stations. I rode BART to SF for nearly 5 years – Once the train gets to Civic Center, it’s much less crowded.

    I’ve made the argument before and I’ll make it again, the South Bay was not built with transit in mind. It’s not a dense urban area with businesses clustered within walking distance of a transit station. It is a suburb style area with large business parks spread out over large distances. You can’t create an efficient mass transit system that people will use with this set up.

    And BBox – they have been saying for the last 30 years that “in 10 or 15 years, it’s going to be gridlock”. Is it gridlocked? Nope – takes me less time to get to work in Palo Alto than it did 10 years ago…. But wait, it should be gridlocked by now according to you and the “studies” you cite…

    Oh and Marty – I bought my house next to freight train tracks – not commuter train tracks. Big difference. I get two or three slow trains a day, not 10 trains a day (what they are planning on increasing to, plus some) going 45 mph 50 yards from my back door. And I’m with Doug – I’d take the freight train going by to my neighbor being 6 feet away any day.

  13. Jen Says: “the South Bay was not built with transit in mind. It’s not a dense urban area with businesses clustered within walking distance of a transit station. It is a suburb style area with large business parks spread out over large distances. You can’t create an efficient mass transit system that people will use with this set up.”

    So you think $890M for BART to Warm Springs, and another $6B to continue into San Jose (bypassing the Golden Triangle) is a bad investment?

  14. I think given the conditions of our schools, our roads, etc. in the state of California, we have NO business spending money on either of these projects at this time.
    There seem to be quite a few people who commute from the South Bay to Fremont BART to commute into Oakland or SF. A Warm Springs and/or Milpitas extention would more than likely help those commuters more than it would people actually getting on BART in San Leandro (or wherever) and riding it to their job in the south bay.
    Is it worth nearly $7B (according to the figures you list)? Not hardly. But if I have to choose between that and the Dumbarton Rail, I’ll go with BART.

  15. Okay, here’s a crazy concept. Rather than rushing to build high-density housing clustered around BART stations, why not bring the transit to where folks currently live.
    Case in point: The northern half of Fremont Blvd. is loaded with existing apartment and condo complexes along its route, and many more are within walking distance one,two or three blocks on either side.
    A light rail, or ultra light rail line, running its length, all the way south and into the hi-tech business park across I-880 would serve business, students and shoppers, interconnecting both ends of the city. A connector spur on the south end would run up Cushing Parkway to Pacific Commons, and if Cisco Field were to become a reality, serve to lighten the traffic load with locals and BART patrons connecting via the rail.
    Oh boy, now I’ve stirred the pot! I await the backlash.

  16. Doug, It makes perfect sense to me, but do you have any idea how many Jens live along your supposed light rail line?

    As long as public transportation is what “other people” use, it wont be supported and it certainly wont be funded. There’s no choice but to shine up that civic and get on the road. 8-dollar tolls and 10-dollar gallons of gas in 10 years. I’ll be the guy smirking as he rides his pannier-equipped bike along Niles Blvd.

  17. I actually think that Doug’s idea is a good one – it would run along already very busy streets. If you live on Fremont Blvd. with constant traffic outside your front door, an electric train whooshing by probably wouldn’t increase the noise pollution very much at all.

    Marty – just because we don’t ride our bikes everywhere like you, doesn’t mean that we don’t support public transportation when it is well thought out and the money is judiciously spent. It’s lovely that it is convenient for you to ride your bike everywhere, but there are others of us that have other factors going on in our lives that makes this impractical. It doesn’t make us stupid or lazy, it just doesn’t work for us.

  18. The concept of a “rail along the boulevard” also does something that some agree with and others not; it would calm traffic through the shopping areas. Yes, it would divert the north/south vehicular traffic to other arteries, but would create a much more pedestrian friendly Centerville, “downtown”, and Irvington shopping districts. The Amtrak station connects on the north end and IF an Irvington BART station were to be built it would be within walking distance from Five Corners.

  19. Jen, the fact that most are not able to use a bicycle for transportation is the very reason why I am so adamant about the region having a robust public transportation system. I believe fueling cars will be prohibitively expensive for my children. The bay area is poorly designed around the automobile, and stalling on this matter is setting us up for very bad situation.

  20. Currently there are 40 U.S. cities in various stages of light rail development. Some already have existing systems and are expanding them, others are newbies.
    The easiest path to choose is to do nothing and 10 years from now we will be in an even worse situation due to increasing fuel costs.
    Businesses will look at those cities that are visionary in their thinking and locate their business there.
    If creating jobs and bringing business to Fremont is as important as our mayoral candidates say it is then we have to think farther out than next year.

  21. “Businesses will look at those cities that are visionary in their thinking and locate their business there.”

    Ding, ding, Doug!

    At present, Bay Area employers can pool from the entire region, because for the most part people are willing and able to commute by car to jobs miles away. I believe this is a core reason for our regions economic success. Once that caveat is removed, the region will become a much less desired place to do business. We must not only be prepared for the next wave, we should be the ones defining it.

    Death grips on the past always loosen up. If they didn’t, we’d all be ranch hands. One thing is for certain, and that is we must not allow one’s desire to protect their bad decisions dictate policy that effects the entire economy of this region.

  22. From TIME Magazine article – Postcard:Charlotte (N.C.)
    “Its center-city population has doubled since 2000, and its light-rail system, just a year old, is already approaching its ridership goal for 2025.”

  23. I absolutely agree with you Jen that, at the present, it doesnt seem like a rational expenditure to be developing either solution.

    However – WHEN the traffic projections are realized – it’ll be the EAST/WEST routes that have already been the most consistantly congested and it’ll be the EAST/WEST routes that will become the pinch point.

    I concur with you that timing is speculative at this point.

    I stand by my thinking that the vision of BART “ringing the bay” will never happen. I have my own view of Peninsula objections – you have your own re the South Bay – I think we’re saying the same thing.

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