[Audio of Administrator Rogoff remarks (Windows Media)]
I am thrilled on behalf of President Obama and Secretary LaHood to be delivering $900 million of California taxpayer money back to finally extend BART to Silicon Valley.
This project has been talked about for decades. In fact, it was pointed out this morning that Santa Clara was part of BART’s original plans in the late 1950s. Finally today, were going to break ground on this plan and make it reality.
The $900 million that President Obama is dedicating to this project is gladly given. Why? Well there are a lot of reasons. First, the people of this region have voted not once but twice to partner with us and tax themselves. We are thrilled to provide this $900 million because we know is going to improve the quality of life for people in this community. We also know it’s going to serve important goals in cleaning up our air and giving people a meaningful choice in how to get to work and how to get around the area.
We going to create thousands of jobs right now, precisely when we need them—tens of thousands, if you add up the direct construction jobs, the operational jobs, the vendor jobs. Like I said, jobs right now when we need them.
So perhaps the best reason we are thrilled to support projects like this all over the country is this: this $20 bill in this region of the country won’t even buy five gallons of gasoline. President Obama has articulated a strategy for dealing with the gas prices that’s an “all-of-the-above” strategy. It’s more oil and gas exploration, it’s investments in wind and solar, but importantly, it’s also about letting people avoid the pain at the gas pump by using transit as a meaningful alternative. Giving people a real choice. That’s what this projects going to do. It’s going to give people a real choice.
So is today a day to celebrate? You bet! But let me put out a very brief warning. BART is currently running the oldest railcars in America. Not only for BART, but for MUNI, SamTrans, for Caltrain—there’s billions of dollars of reinvestment that needs to be made in our transit systems to keep those systems a meaningful and valuable choice so people can save the time and save the money at the gas pump.
So while were celebrating the expansion of this system—and it is something to celebrate—let’s also keep our mind focused on the fact that we need to reinvest in the system we’ve got. That’s the way we can ensure that people are going to save the time on their commute, save money at the gas pump, and do the right thing so that the transit services that we’re extending for ourselves today will be available and be meaningful alternatives for our kids tomorrow.
Thanks very much. On behalf of the President and Secretary, congratulations to everybody.