By Tim Hunt
Priorities: BART vs. high-speed railUploaded: Jul 14, 2015
The aging BART system has been in the headlines way too much as directors try to figure out how to catch up after decades of poor maintenance and machinery that is simply aging (half of the train cars are more than 40 years old).
The San Francisco Business Time spotlighted the BART situation in its cover story last week. Ridership has soared over the last 15 years from an average of 310,000 to 399,000 and is projected to reach 500,000 by 2025. Currently, BART leaders believe they need to invest $9.6 billion over the next 10 years to update the system's computer controls as well buy new cars. And that does not include the estimated $12 billion to build a second tunnel under the Bay.
Their huge challenge is where to find the money because federal grants that had been a source of capital funds are not likely to be forthcoming for transportation or other infrastructure projects such as water or sewer improvements.
The irony is that BART, which has been expanded over the years with a combination of federal grants, state money and local sales tax revenues, could be built out for a small fraction of the billions that the governor wants for his high-speed rail. That's at least a $70 billion tab that is sure to climb and be under-utilized. Contrast that with an over-used system that is the transportation backbone of the economic engine for California.
ABHOW (formerly American Baptist Homes of the West) is headquartered here in Pleasanton and last week announced it is merging with the be.group (formerly Southern California Presbyterian Homes and Services).
Together, the two non-profit organizations care for 9,800 residents in 83 facilities in six western states. They offer both continuing care units including memory care units as well as affordable senior housing. Merger talks grew out of the ABHOW board's plan to find a successor for Dave Ferguson, a San Ramon Valley resident, who will have led the organization as president and CEO for 25 years when he retires early in 2017.
That search led them to John Cochrane, the CEO of the be.group since 2009. There will be plenty of due diligence to be achieved, but the organizations share both a faith-based heritage and a commitment to serve senior citizens of varying means. Cochrane will serve as CEO of the combined organization.
As Ferguson wrote in an email me, "Neither we nor they want to throw out our heritage, but both recognize that it is the mission, not the name, that matters."
That grew out of an email I had earlier sent suggesting that the organization find a name other than an acronym that means nothing unless the words are spelled out.
ABHOW has a significant footprint in the Tri-Valley with senior affordable housing units including Valley Vista in San Ramon (owned and operated) as well as contract operations at three complexes in Livermore owned by Interfaith Housing and Pleasanton Gardens, where I serve on the board.