Money allocated for BART in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives, has become a central point of contention.
- The COVID-19 relief bill passed by the House of Representatives includes $140 million specifically for the extension of BART into downtown San Jose.
BERNICE ALANIZ: This regional extension of the system will really link the three largest cities in the Bay Area with a one-seat ride.
- Bernice Alaniz is a spokesperson for BART and the Valley Transportation Authority. She says the plan has been in the works for 20 years and argues these funds are necessary because local revenue for the project has dried up during the pandemic.
BERNICE ALANIZ: This money would alleviate some of the strain on some of the local sales taxes that have really been impacted by COVID-19.
- For BART passenger Mike Elder, he thinks the money could be better spent.
MIKE ELDER: Seats are horrible. Graffiti and debris, and the floors are sticky. Just better maintenance on the current trains and the current system.
- The money has also drawn criticism from Republican lawmakers like Kevin McCarthy, who tweeted, quote, "The socialists have brought the swamp back. $140 million for a tunnel near Pelosi's district. And when Republicans tried to redirect that money to provide mental health services for kids, every single Democrat voted against the kids."
Central Valley Congressman Devin Nunes also panned it at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
DEVIN NUNES: We already know that part of this money is going to go to build a tunnel from Silicon Valley to San Francisco. Now, look, these technoligarchs are the last people that need anybody's money.
- BART director Bevan Dufty says without these funds the project could languish and rack up even more costs.
BEVAN DUFTY: The purpose of these funds are really about accelerating projects.
- And by doing so, create more jobs.
BEVAN DUFTY: What this really does is help to keep construction jobs moving.