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Thursday, October 29, 2009

BART extension will create jobs, boost economy

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The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's BART Silicon Valley Project exemplifies findings from the recently released "Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment" report, which demonstrates how increased investment in public transportation provides green jobs, wages and business income in industries that have been particularly hit hard by the economic downturn. 

Economic analysis of the BART Silicon Valley project by Wilber Smith and Associates estimated an overall return on investment of four to six dollars for every dollar spent on the $6-billion project.

By 2030, the 16-mile extension is estimated to generate an additional $11.42 billion in gross regional product and $3.27 billion in personal income, with 66 percent of those dollars staying in Santa Clara County and the remainder benefiting the Bay Area region. The national average of short- and long-term economic benefits of public transit investments outlined in the APTA report is for every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is generated in economic returns.

The report released by The American Public Transportation Association also shows that for every $1 billion invested in public transportation capital and operations, an average of 36,000 jobs are supported. These 36,000 jobs result in roughly $3.6 billion of business sales and generate nearly $500 million in federal, state and local tax revenues.

"BART Silicon Valley will create thousands of temporary and permanent jobs to build and then operate the system. Easier access in and out of the county will greatly expand the county's labor force," states Carolyn Gonot, chief program officer, BART Silicon Valley.

BART Silicon Valley also has long-term economic benefits from taking cars off the road. Estimates show a savings of $8.65 billion after 15 years of operations from reduced congestion, which reduces travel times, vehicle operating costs and accidents, in addition to emissions.

"Public transportation investments offer both short- and long-term benefits to our economy," notes Glen Weisbrod of Economic Development Research Group, the author of the APTA research effort. "This investment not only brings an immediate economic impact on job creation and business sales, but it also provides the long-term benefit of improving our nation's transportation system, which in turn improves the efficiency of our economy."

The BART to Silicon Valley Project is an extension of the existing BART system to San Jose, Milpitas and Santa Clara. This project plans to extend the current BART system 16 miles beginning at the future BART Warm Springs Station in Fremont and proceed on the former Union Pacific right-of-way through Milpitas to south of Mabury Road in San Jose. The extension would then descend into a 5.1-mile-long subway tunnel, continue through downtown San Jose and end at grade in Santa Clara near the Caltrain Station. A maintenance and vehicle storage yard would be at the terminus of the project in Santa Clara.