Saturday, November 27, 2021

Sen. Ernst wants to ‘put the brakes on boondoggles’, starting with Pelosi’s $6.7 billion San Francisco subway extension

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Tuesday awarded the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) its latest Squeal Award Send Millions of tax dollars in California’s Santa Clara Valley for a project to expand San Francisco’s public transportation system to Silicon Valley.

“Democrats attempted to put money into a COVID relief package earlier this year for a subway expansion from San Francisco to Silicon Valley,” Ernst told reporters during a news conference on Tuesday. The FTA is part of the Department of Transport (DOT).

Ernst was referring to the $140 million in a package that was championed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose district is in San Francisco.

Pelosi has long supported federal funding for BART, such as in 2005 when he Safe $65 million, prompting then-BART general manager Tom Margaro to praise his “tireless leadership” on behalf of the transit system.

The earmark was dropped from the Senate version of the COVID relief measure after a Senate lawmaker’s $140 million decision was unrelated to the bill’s purpose. Drew Hamill, Pelosi’s spokesman, Claimed “The Republicans misled the public” about the project.

“That push was snubbed in the Senate, but the project is still receiving $225 million from the Department of Transportation and the project has requested a total of $1.7 billion from the federal government,” Ernst said.

The Iowa Republican said the 6.5-mile-extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is “estimated to cost about $6.7 billion, more than a billion dollars per mile. By comparison, my state of Iowa needs roads and bridges.” It receives approximately $523 million from the federal government per year.

Ernst said construction on the proposed expansion has yet to begin, but the project is already over $2 billion over budget and three to four years behind schedule.

Ernst said a section of the proposed expansion to Santa Clara County would mimic existing rail service. He said BART is projected to lose $200 million annually over the next decade and has one of the lowest ridership of all public transportation systems in the country.

A BART spokesman did not respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

“The only way this subway system can run is for taxpayers to lubricate its wheels,” Ernst said. “We shouldn’t be paying taxpayer dollars for a project that’s already a train wreck, even before it leaves the station,” Ernst said.

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In addition to designating the FTA as its latest recipient squill award As for wasting tax dollars, Ernst told reporters that she was introducing legislation that would prevent the federal government from funding any transportation project that is $1 billion or more over budget and up to a decade in the future. Estimated to lose money every year.

Adam Andrzewski, chief executive office of Open the Books, a Chicago-based nonprofit that uses public information laws at all levels of government to post trillions of dollars in government spending, the 2019 civil grand jury obtained by his group Ridership for the San Francisco area was down 15 percent across all rail systems over the past five years, the report said.

“He determined that only five percent [area] Passengers use the light rail system … yet in that five-year period the cost increased by an astonishing 54 percent,” Andrzewski said.

He said the grand jury report included testimony from transit workers who claimed that the rail system should be scrapped in favor of the bus system.

“These workers were not fans of light rail, saying that using buses instead of rail would cut the cost in half and increase the number of riders by 100 percent,” he said.

“If we’re going to have infrastructure, these transit systems have to be sustainable without taxpayer subsidies,” Andrzewski said, noting that the San Francisco/Santa Clara Valley area offers “taxpayers subsidies 92 percent of the cost of public transportation.”

“If we are going to do infrastructure, we have to make sure that these transport systems are not employment farms for public employees,” he said.

Andrzewski pointed to the Phoenix area where voters decided to end light rail transit and go with a bus-based system.

Congressional Correspondent Mark Tapscott can be contacted at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @mtapscott and on Parler at @Mtapscott.

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