Mar 31, 2016

An opinion piece by the The East Bay Leadership Council (EBLC):

Arousing fear and outrage has proven to be an effective strategy, especially during this political season.

The past few weeks have seen a great deal of hand-wringing and outrage in the media over BART’s woes.  The service disruption between North Concord and Bay Point has brought back traumatic memories of the 2013 strike, and old animosities have resurfaced.

The East Bay Leadership Council (EBLC) hopes to put that animosity aside and focus on keeping BART running. But just as we get the government we deserve, we also get the infrastructure we deserve.  Let us be worthy of the inheritance left to us by past generations and not squander it for the sake of pithy tweets or political posturing.

The system’s age is contributing to the current problems.  Suggesting that this claim only serves some ulterior motive is false and is a distraction from the real issues.

The core BART system will soon be half a century old.  The system suffers $9.6 billion dollars’ worth of deferred maintenance and critical components now require replacement.  This work has to be paid for, and neither the State of California nor the federal government is likely to bail us out any time soon.

Whether you believe the system has been mismanaged or not; whether you ride along the screeching decades-old tracks or not; whether you personally suffer through overcrowded cars and service interruptions or not, we all benefit from a system that eases commutes, connects people to jobs, provides mobility to those with limited means, and helps keep our air clean.

The alternative is longer commutes, more polluted air, a weaker economy, and a diminished quality of life.  This is our reality.

The EBLC believes it is reasonable to question labor practices and compensation at BART.  We encourage the Board of Directors and senior management to work diligently to address these issues, and we call on the California legislature to contribute to a solution.  It is our collective civic duty to hold our leaders accountable.

Broken infrastructure is just as bad for riders as a BART strike.  We hope that BART and our region’s leaders get the message: come together and keep BART running.

We also hope that the region’s citizens recognize that investing in our infrastructure is responsible civic engagement when the system is in need of public investment.  The Bay Area is among the world’s largest economies and requires a reliable world-class transit system befitting its status.

Ultimately, vilifying public servants is no more productive than vilifying elected leaders.  Both result in a race to the bottom where the only participants left are those comfortable with a good public shaming.

It is ridiculous to think that choking off BART’s resources will lead to a better BART.


  1. Apparently The East Bay Leadership Council (EBLC) has never heard of accountability.

    Charles T. Smith | Mar 31st, 2016
  2. I agree that we need to keep BART running. It IS important. But it’s equally important to hold those in charge of the situation accountable. The defense of the current situation cites the 40 year old infrastructure, as well as record ridership far beyond intent. But all this means to any of us is 40 years of NOT planning for the future, and record revenues. Your reference to the strike points out another terrifying issue. We need BART, and they know it. They have the power. As long as we stay complacent and put up with all of this, nothing will change. The question isn’t whether we need BART or not, it’s who deserves to run it. The current leadership has failed all of us while serving themselves. And that is well worth noting.

    You’re right about the ulterior motives, though. The excessive need for funds really is for maintenance, not for lining the board’s pockets. What you forgot to mention was that the ulterior motives have already been served. That’s how we got here in the first place. And it’ll happen again if we keep saying with our votes and our quiet ridership that it’s okay to do it.

    Richard | Apr 1st, 2016