BART Parking: One Size Does Not Fit All Says Director Keller

Letter Submitted by Joel Keller


The following was submitted by BART Board of Director Joel Keller.

At age 17, after interviewing hundreds of renowned thinkers, Nikhil Goyal wrote a book called, One Size Does Not Fit All.  It offers a prescription to transform the American educational system.

I don’t claim to be as smart as that young man. But I’d like to borrow the title to his book and apply it to BART parking.  Here’s why.

As a BART Director in Contra Costa County, most of my constituents depend on their cars.  They have a very different commute experience than my colleagues whose constituents live in more transit and pedestrian friendly areas.  Consequently, the solutions to help my constituents connect with BART may be different than those of some of my colleagues.

In January, BART staff made a presentation to the Board entitled “BART’s Parking Program: Update and Discussion.”

We board members learned that BART’s revenue from parking has increased from under $5 million in 2003 to $35 million in 2017. BART has a total of 48,000 parking spaces at 34 parking facilities. We have a systemwide waitlist total of 38,000 customers.   Staff presented some possible solutions to dealing with easing the overcrowding in our existing lots.  Those ideas included demand based pricing and variable pricing.  These are fine ideas for consideration, but what about parking expansion?

So, I decided to do what young Nikhil did and speak with some pretty smart thinkers in my district.  I contacted several local business owners about parking at BART.  They asked, “Why is BART just trying to manage the overcrowding, and not capturing the revenue that could be generated by creatively accommodating the people whose names are on the waitlist?”

As a director who represents auto dependent riders, I think they are right. Let’s assume that the 38,000 names on the waitlist contains duplications, and that there are, say, 16,000 potential riders who are willing to pay parking fees to get a spot. That could increase our parking revenue to as high as $54 million, or a $19 million/year increase.

So why aren’t we looking at solutions to find more places to park and charging for those additional spots along with better managing the existing spots that we have now?  Why not create satellite parking lots served by free shuttle buses?  Why not partner with area businesses, local governmental agencies and others to use adjacent and existing parking more efficiently?

I believe each of these ideas merits further discussion and I look forward to a robust exchange of ideas when this item returns to the Board. I am sure that there are other ideas that we should explore, but as I said at the Board meeting, the solution to overcrowded parking cannot be a “one size fits all.”

The needs of auto dependent stations are different than the needs of stations in more urbanized parts of the District. While the solutions may be different, the differences should be respected.

(510) 464-6095
(510) 464-6011

Editors Note:

In case you missed it, last week, I sat down with Director Keller and we spoke about many issues around BART. Here is the 40-minute interview:


  1. Because transportation should be seen as a part of infrastructure rather than a business with a profit motive. But this is America, where we sold our health care system to insurance companies, charities to mass marketers, churches to the doctrine of prosperity; so the status quo is profit over people and everything is a commodity.

    • Yeah…catalytic converters aren’t cheap. I wouldn’t part at BART even if they paid me to park.

  2. Are you kidding ? … Anything Keller says is pure, unadulterated BS. Remember, he sold out Antioch when he was on the council and Mayor — overdevelopment with no infrastructure support, and as our BART Director, he sold out by cramming Diesel trains down our throat …. We paid for REAL BART since 1962, and this is what we get ??? He actually went to the Antioch City Council a few years ago and tried to convince them that an elevator and bathrooms would not be necessary for Antioch’s FAUX BART station, bringing with him some “half-wit” police commander warning of the evils of having bathrooms at “end of the line” stations …. Gimme a break !

    • Yes, Joel Keller sure did sell out east county. I would love to know why e-BART was never put in front of the voters for the decision?

      • And what have we’ve paid for since 1962 since we didn’t get regular e-BART. Those stations are a joke. I can’t wait for people with luggage and disabled to try and use them. They are in a poor location for where I live in Antioch.

    • Vince, I regret you were not able to meet with me about your concerns. I brought with me information that I wanted to share with you. First, the EIR for the Southeast Specific Plan was adopted by the Antioch City Council on January 26, 1982, and the Plan itself was adopted in March 1982 before I was elected to public office. I opposed the plan because it allowed for the development of 14,585 residential units, but failed failed to address the infrastructure needed to support the amount of proposed development. While I was Mayor, the City Council established assessment districts for public improvements, including roads, sewer lines and storm drain improvements. The Council put in place development fees that were used to expand the water treatment plant and the sewage treatment plant. The Mello-Roos provided funding for a high school, 2 middle schools, 5 elementary schools and the Prewett Family Park and Community Center. These public improvements which totaled nearly $500 million were necessary to mitigate the negative impacts of the 14,585 residential units.

      As to the BART to Antioch extension. BART established an eBART Policy Advisory Committee comprised of elected officials from Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Pittsburg, the County and BART which voted unanimously to support the eBART project. I had hoped to provide you with a copy of the Master Responses to comments that were received during the EIR public comment review period.

      The property and sales tax collected from East Contra Costa communities would not cover the cost of a BART extension to Antioch using any of the reviewed technologies evaluated in the Draft EIR. In 2000, BART completed an analysis of estimated property and sales tax revenue generated from the community between 1959 and 1999. The amount was $103 million. The Pittsburg/Bay Point extension cost $490 million and the BART to Antioch project will cost $524 million, resulting in over $1 billion of state and regional resources being used to extend BART to Antioch. There were risks associated with not approving a rail extension when the eBART Policy Advisory Committee made their recommendation. Pursuing any of the alternatives evaluated by the Draft EIR would require securing additional funding sources, thus delaying rail service in the corridor. If the proposed project was delayed, the motoring public and residential and commercial uses along SR 4 would be heavily impacted since construction for the widening would occur, followed by a second disruption shortly thereafter for the Proposed Project.

      My offer to meet with you still stands. I would be happy to provide you with the background information that was used for the information provided above.

      • Mr. Keller:

        Sorry, but you are incorrect in referencing the general plan approved by the Antioch Council in 1982. The plan only made reference to the possibility of developing over 14,000 residential homes within the city boundaries. No specific development EIR for future projects were on record at that time.

        • What was approved in 1982 before my election to public office was the Southeast Antioch Specific Plan (not the general plan) which set the framework for the development of 14,585 homes. The City did approve the EIR for the plan before adopting the plan, but did not address the infrastructure needs. As a result of the City’s approval, individual property owners were able to submit development plans that were consistent with the approved specific plan. In order to bring order to this process, the City first identified the infrastructure needs and then established assessment districts, set fees and negotiated funding for schools and the community park. As long as the individual plans were consistent with the Specific Plan, the City faced the very real possibility of litigation which could have been very expensive for the taxpayers.

      • Mr. Keller:

        You failed to include 40 years of interest on our property and sales taxes used to support a future BART for this rapidly growing area of Contra Costa County. I can easily estimate that the final revenue, if collected for future infrastructure, would be at least 1.8 billion ($103 million over 40 years). Enough to convince most of us we were fools to not protest the tax long ago.

        • In 1969, BART issued $790 million in bonds to build the original system. Those bonds were fully paid off in 1999 and the tax assessment was ended. Before BART was created, the legislature approved a small property tax assessment for planning on all property owners in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The sales tax all residents in the three counties pay is used for the maintenance and operations of the system. All of the extensions to the core system have been paid for with a combination of federal, regional and state funds.

  3. Re parking alternatives, BART should grab some federal and state funding for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, and put out an RFP for self-parking infrastructure at a test facility. In a few years, there will many more vehicles on the road with ADAS that will support self-parking in open lots and of course driverless cars moving at 5mph present much less of a technical problem than putting them on roadways. Next time anyone on the board happens to be in Stuttgart, they will be able see this concept in practice at the Mercedes Museum. Just avoid track based systems, since they are wholly inadequate and expensive for systemwide applications involving upwards of 64,000 parking spots. Since adequate parking facilities are scarce, I suggest a “roro” ship, already common in the auto shipping industry, be used for an alternative testbed (to up and running GoMentum Station in Concord).

  4. Joel Keller’s term expires December 2018; it is time to vote a new BART Board of Director for East County. Joel Keller does not represent taxpayer and his BART strategy is no good.

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