That’s the upshot of “negotiations” between the Black Political Caucus and city officials, the latest Rhino Times reports. The paper quotes caucus chairman Dwayne Collins as saying efforts are underway to speed up the planned 2018 Beatties Ford streetcar, with a quid pro quo strongly implied.

According to Collins, a deal is already in the works that would have the West side streetcar rolling well before 2018. Collins didn’t say it hinged specifically on an endorsement against repeal from the Black Political Caucus, but he came close.

“We’re trying to work out some negotiations so hopefully repealing it wouldn’t have to be an option,” Collins said, “because there have been some agreements made that would be implemented that all could live with, so to speak.”

Hmmm. Bet the East side would love to get in on that action. Anyone who attended the debate at West Charlotte had to note how the pro-tax team clearly implied the streetcar start-date was on the table. Very shrewd.

Elsewhere in the Rhino, editor Mark Pellin notes that lawsuits have sometimes succeeded where negotiations fail on such matters.

In several cases, plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against transit agencies have claimed that funding pricey rail corridors has come at the expense of funding bus routes that are used primarily by minorities.

One recent, high profile example can be found in a 2005 federal court lawsuit that minority bus riders and various community groups filed against the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The lawsuit accused the MTC of maintaining a “separate and unequal transit system” that favored white suburban commuters.

The Bay Area lawsuit, which is still being litigated, alleges that “the commission has disproportionately funded Caltrain and BART – rail services used predominately by white suburbanites with relatively high incomes – while under-funding the East Bay’s AC Transit bus system, used mainly by low-income minority city dwellers,” according to an April 2005 article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Last year a U.S. District Court judge rejected arguments presented by the MTC to have the case dismissed, Margaret Hasselman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in an interview this week. Hasselman said the case was on track to be heard early next year.

Very interesting times we live in.