We Need More Pennies For BART, Even in South County

One would expect John and Joanne Homeowner of Morgan Hill to be
against helping to pay for the proposed extension of BART from
Fremont to San Jose.
One would expect John and Joanne Homeowner of Morgan Hill to be against helping to pay for the proposed extension of BART from Fremont to San Jose.

After all, the Homeowners, like most of us residents, live in a “bedroom” community. We knew that one to two hours of our workday would include guzzling gas and running our vehicles into the ground. But when we moved here we accepted our fate because we wanted to live in a small community.

One would expect a Mountain View Councilman, such as Greg Perry, to be against the proposed extension of BART from Fremont to San Jose. After all, he has 39 northbound, and 36 southbound Caltrain choo-choos delivering his residents to and from their places of work every day. He thinks he needs BART like he needs a hole in the head. But he is wrong.

Thankfully, our elected officials, like Supervisor Don Gage and Mayor Dennis Kennedy understand the potential limitations of trying to fund a project with sales tax revenues, and trying to fund a project with an economy that is down, but still support the sales tax because BART is for the good of all of us.

To say that BART, the VTA, and public transportation in general have not met their goals and must be poorly run is just a cheap shot. Sales tax revenues are down and there is no way to meet the goals of 2000 in the timetable that was envisioned in 2000. But these agencies do not work in a vacuum and they are continually searching for ways to be more efficient while providing more service to the populace. Heaven forbid if they downsize service in specific areas. But wouldn’t you do the same if you were running a business and a particular service that you offer was not popular? Maybe Caltrain reduces the amount of trains in operation in a “down” economy, or maybe they increase the amount of trains in operation in an “up” economy. But at least the train tracks are there. If the tracks are not there then people who would/might use the trains do not have a choice. The VTA has a new general manager, Michael Burns. Lets see what he does between now and November 2006 when the quarter cent sales tax measure could be on the ballot.

The BART extension might have the appearance of being built for a select geographic group of people. If you have ever been on the I-880 or I-680 corridors during rush hour, then you know what I am talking about. But BART is more than just affording a better quality of life for a select group of people. BART will provide access to stops along the East Bay corridor and San Francisco, further relieving stress on our highways. The more cars we can get off the road, the more barrels of oil we will save, the less dependency we will have on the auto industry, and the better off our environment will be.

Lets say a new ballot measure for BART were to pass. If we purchase a jacket for $100 we would pay $8.50 in tax instead of $8.25 in tax. If we bought six jackets then we couldn’t afford that one Starbucks grand coffee ($1.65).

Supporting BART makes good “cents.” Lets send a message to our fellow residents that the homeowners of Morgan Hill believe in saving energy and improving our environment.

Gil Mitchell is a Morgan Hill resident. Reach him a [email protected]

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