The following is a letter to the Editor from Judge and former State Senator Quentin L. Kopp, in response to the Bay City Beacon column "BART to SFO is Everything Wrong with Bay Area Transit". We publish the letter with permission of Judge Kopp.
The January 7, 2018 column entitled "BART to SFO is Everything Wrong with Bay Area Transit" is written by Alon Levy, who must be the biggest "Know-Nothing Party" leader of the 19th Century. The fight to ensure SFO airline patrons didn't have to transfer from a station almost two miles from the airport has proven worthwhile in every respect. It is the only public transit segment in the nine Bay Area counties which doesn't need taxpayer subsidy to operate and which even provides a profit annually! That extension was subverted for several years by the then-SFO General Manager, the airlines, and the taxi cab industry. The General Manager didn't want any other government agency in his domain, even San Mateo County law enforcement officers. The taxi cab industry didn't want competition. The airlines, whose rent in the form of landing fees emanates from adding all sources of SFO commercial revenue such as parking, then calculating the money needed to operate annually and then charging the airlines only the amount needed to break even with expenses.
Caltrain operates with a giant taxpayer subsidy, even today over 50% of its costs and fare box recovery revenue. BART could, and should, have been extended to San Jose, instead of spending more money to reach San Jose from Alameda County instead of Millbrae. San Francisco voters recognized those facts overwhelmingly in 1994, when they approved a ballot measure initiative in the face of enormous spending by the airlines, their lackey union, and taxi cab moguls. Whether BART ridership at the South San Francisco, San Bruno, and Millbrae stations meets expectations is beside the point. The ridership to and from SFO satisfies predictions without taxpayer subsidy. I'm proud to have led that winning public policy fight.
Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.)
The conversation isn't over — you can also read transit columnist Alon Levy’s response to Judge Kopp’s letter in his follow-up column: “Why I Disagree with Judge Quentin Kopp about BART to SFO.”
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