July 2021 Squeal Award: Put the Brakes on the Bay Area Boondoggle

All aboard! Buckle up for a ride on the Boondoggle Express…

A San Francisco Bay Area subway extension is part of “one of the most expensive and least efficient transit systems in the country.” This expansion will cost more than $1 billion per mile to construct AND is already billions over budget and years behind schedule – all while counting on taxpayers in Iowa and the rest of the country to keep its wheels greased.

You might remember…

Earlier this year, Democrats tried to railroad an earmark costing more than $100 million into their so-called “COVID relief” bill that would extend a subway from San Francisco, not far from the Speaker of the House’s congressional district, to Silicon Valley. While approved by the House, the pork project was dropped (and that’s after we made sure the public knew about this egregious earmark).

But get this: the subway is still making off with hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers. 

To date, the Federal Transit Administration has steered $225 million for the project to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). That amount is just a fraction of the $1.7 billion the VTA has requested from the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete the subway. 

But even that may not be enough to get this subway train to the end of the line.

The 6.5-mile extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) that would add four new stations was expected to cost under $4.7 billion just three years ago—but that price has since ballooned to nearly $6.9 billion. The final segment of the extension, priced at $500 million, would duplicate the service already provided by another existing rail.

Let’s put that in perspective: Iowa receives around $523 million per year from the federal government for roads and bridges, and the state’s total transportation budget over five years is $3.6 billion

If that wasn’t enough: The project is already three to four years behind schedule with construction expected to begin next year

The tunnel being dug for this subway is literally a bottomless pit for taxpayer money. 

Because the transit service has one of “the highest operating costs and lowest ridership in the country,” the project and the TVA itself are reliant on taxpayer subsidies. The transit agency’s operating expenses are growing twice as fast as revenues and ridership dropped nearly 20%—even prior to COVID—despite population increases in the region.

Taxpayers subsidize 90% of this transit service and fewer than 5% of the residents of the area even use it. The subway system is expected to lose as much as $200 million a year over the next decade.

Spending billions of dollars to build an already over-budget extension that duplicates an existing rail service will only dig the BART Subway System deeper into the hole.

It isn’t fair to force taxpayers in Iowa and elsewhere to pay the fare of this good-for-nothing subway service, which is why I am awarding my July 2021 Squeal Award to the Department of Transportation for allowing taxpayers to be taken for a ride on this gravy train that is billions over budget.

That is also why I am introducing the Put the Brakes on Boondoggles Act that would prevent any other tax dollars from going to transportation projects that are $1 billion over budget and expected to lose money.

Do you have an example of government waste or inefficiencies that I should take a look at? Send me an email by clicking here.

Thank you!