Gas Tax Funding Announced for Transit, Highway, and Local Priority Projects

The TIRCP allocated funding to extend BART into downtown San Jose, among 27 other projects. Image: VTA
The TIRCP allocated funding to extend BART into downtown San Jose, among 27 other projects. Image: VTA

The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) today announced the recipients of grants from its Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), which is funded by S.B.1—the gas tax—as well as California’s cap-and-trade system.

Meanwhile, staff at the California Transportation Commission (CTC) released their recommendations for funding projects under three programs created by S.B. 1: Solutions for Congested Corridors, Trade Corridors Enhancement Program, and the Local Partnership Program.

The announcements were made just before gas tax opponents plan to deliver the signatures required to put their proposition to repeal S.B. 1 on the November ballot.

When asked what would happen to these projects and the funding if the repeal were to be successful, Senator Jim Beall, speaking at a press conference announcing the funding, said, “I have an answer to that. Poof! It all goes away.”

“It would be a very unwise decision to turn your back on this major transformative transit project for the Bay Area,” he said, referring to the extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit into downtown San Jose, which was awarded a TIRCP grant. “I have no doubt the voters of Silicon Valley will reject this foolish notion, which would seriously affect the Bay Area economy and Silicon Valley’s economy.”

The BART extension is one of 28 grants from the TIRCP for transit projects throughout the state, for a total of $2.6 billion. Those grants are meant to support “transformative transportation” projects

They include, for example:

  • The purchase of electric buses and charging infrastructure for multiple transit agencies in the state
  • New train cars and a new communication system so BART can increase transbay service
  • Improvements to existing train service between San Jose and Sacramento, between Santa Barbara and San Diego, in the Salinas Valley, and in the Central Valley
  • Service improvements/expansions on multiple L.A. Metro lines
  • Expansion of light rail services between Folsom and Sacramento
  • Increased service and frequencies on San Diego trolley and light rail lines
  • The BART extension into San Jose
  • Increased transit services between Redding and Sacramento

And one of the grants—for $20 million—will go to the “Dublin/Pleasanton Capacity Improvement and Congestion Reduction Program,” which is basically a parking structure at the Dublin Pleasanton BART station—in the name of convincing drivers in far-flung places to get off the freeway and hop on BART.

CalSTA is also providing additional funding for some of these projects, bringing the total awarded to over $4.3 billion.

Meanwhile, the CTC staff recommends allocating $5.4 billion from S.B. 1 annually for a range of transportation projects including highway expansions, rail improvements, and some complete streets projects.

Those grants fall under three programs: Solutions for Congested Corridors, Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, and the Local Partnership Competitive Program.

The staff recommendations will be considered for adoption by the full commission at their meeting on May 16 and 17 in San Diego.

Projects that did not receive funding in this round may still be eligible for future funding rounds.

These three programs were the subject of multiple workshops to discuss and create goals and guidelines for allocating grants over the past year.

The Local Partnership program is specifically aimed at rewarding localities that have agreed to tax themselves for transportation, with each eligible jurisdiction providing a list of its priority projects to the CTC for approval. CTC staff recommended allocating over $308 million for 27 projects.

Projects in the Local Partnership program—the complete list is here—include the purchase of new hybrid buses, highway interchanges and soundwalls, a Complete Streets project in San Pablo, funding for Orange Line improvements, a bicycle/pedestrian mobility project in Woodland, and managed lanes on Highway 101 in San Mateo and Santa Clara. They also include at least two new highways, the Oakhurst Midtown Connector and the South East Connector, a new highway that the Sacramento region named its top priority project.

The Solutions for Congested Corridor program is supposed to support transportation solutions for busy corridors. Staff recommended nine projects to receive a little over $1 billion. The projects include a mix of rail projects—money for the Redlands Passenger Rail, for example—and additional highway lanes in the guise of HOV or “managed” lanes.

A number of transit projects did not make the list, although they may be eligible for future funding rounds. However, at least one piece of a project was deemed ineligible—a project that would add complete streets elements on Broadway in Sacramento was meant to enhance other congestion relief efforts on that section of Highway 50.

The Trade Corridor Enhancement Program combines state and federal funding to fix issues along freight corridors, including highways and rail. Staff recommended an initial allocation of $1.39 billion to 28 projects that are valued at more than $4 billion. This first round includes five years of federal FAST Act funding and three years of state funding from S.B. 1.

These projects include grade separations, “chokepoint relief,” freeway connectors, road widenings, and interchange improvements.

  • Claude

    lA few minor corrections:
    1:Steel wheels on rails has the least energy loss and the highest return for work done per dollar of expenditure. It’s the cheapest and most efficient way to service a high traffic corridor.
    2: Rails can do double duty, serving personal transit along a corridor and carrying freight at the lowest cost per unit. Steel rail can be used for 50 to 100 years before requiring replacement. Asphalt breaks down quickly and requires constant maintenance or the vehicles will be damaged by the potholes.
    3: Rail is far safer per passenger mile than road. In America 30,00 people are killed on the roads. The Shinkansen has had zero passenger fatalities in 53 years of service.
    Roads also facilitate criminal activity. No bank robbers have successfully used a getaway trolley.
    4: The very act of subsidizing roads further only exacerbated the financial negligence. The result has
    been a huge perversion of spending priorities. A propensity towards
    capital spending over operations and maintenance. This, of course, has
    led to the declining condition of the road network, increasing cost of vehicle damage to vehicles and over-expansion of the roadways. Roads are now over-built, beyond the ability of government to fund needed maintenance and repairs, leading to strained municipal solvency. In addition, the diffusion of economic density in the cities caused by overbuilding roads has led to a collapse of th funding needed to pay the heavy subsidies required by suburban construction. Most cities now expend more than 50% of their surface area to automobiles rather than people.
    5: The bulk of administrative jobs are still concentrated downtown for optimum access to intellectual resources.. This is why the heaviest congestion in a region is going into downtown in the morning and out in the evening. Factories tend to be clustered near transportation nodes where materials can be easily brought in and goods easily sent out.m This generates other high density traffic corridors that could most economically be served by rail through the corridors with buses distributing passengers to their final destinations. this allows poor people to access these jobs and reduces the dependence on welfare. Since ownership of an automobile costs an average of $7000-10,000 a year, a transit free environment reduces the general level of poverty in the population, further straining municipal budgets.
    6: The real problem isn’t the dispersal of factory jobs, it’s the dispersal of all destinations caused by more government activity: Euclidean zoning.
    Each use is separated from all other uses; housing in one area, commerce in another, services somewhere else entirely. Rather than the successful model developed over 6,000 years of city building, where all functions are spread throughout the region and basic needs can be met by walking to destinations the current model separates distinations to the point that there’s literally nowhere worth walking too and instead of a car being enough for a family, a car is required for each driver. At $7-10 thousand each. This waste of resources further degrades the economic stability of the population leading to high debt loads and frequent economic panic.

  • LazyReader

    Rail transit is obsolete because a car can run on a few inch thick piece of asphalt for less money than steel wheels on steel track or even rubber wheels on steel track.

    Other than a few lines, rail loses money everywhere else. Other reasons rail is falling apart..
    – Roads go double duty carrying both individual passengers (cars/suvs), motorcycles; transit (buses, jitneys, cabs) and trucks/semis.
    – Roads can handle more abuse than rail, even if your road is cracked you can still drive on it.
    – Compared with the safety and security and Comfort of riding a car, Crime, sexual harassment, graffiti, unpleasant odors, poor hygiene, invasions of privacy and depraved acts like masturbation and defecation are common on metro systems throughout the world.
    – The very act of subsidizing transit further only exacerbated the financial negligence. The result
    has been a huge perversion of spending priorities. A propensity towards capital spending over operations and maintenance. This, of course, has led to the maintenance debacles in the New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other heavy-rail systems. Contributing bankruptcies of municipalities, increasing public debts and decreases in actual transportation services.
    2nd, I didn’t say a penny a gallon, I said a penny per passenger mile. And also bus companies are beginning to spring up to handle California corridors including the same route served by Surfliner, I like trains……..and I’d rather see Amtrak privatized rather than run by inept bureaucracy. Wanderu has bus services from LA to SF starting at 15 dollars. And San Luis to SF for 45 dollars. Half the price of Amtrak.
    One upstart is “RideCabin” and as time goes on more and more bus and luxurious services are coming soon. “Sleeper buses” are not a new concept and while 115 dollars is steep, the trip from

    A century ago, America was nearing the end of the Golden Age of urban transit. Electric streetcars had been perfected in the late 1880s, and by 1902 every American city of 15,000 people or more had streetcar service. These and other major cities were also connected to their suburbs by frequent steam-powered commuter trains. Hub-and-spoke transit systems worked at the turn of the 20th century because, as late as the 1910s, most American cities were monocentric, with most jobs, retail and other services located in the city centers and
    most residents living around those centers. Yet even at its peak, when the average urban resident rode transit nearly 300 times per year, transit mainly served the well-to-do, as fares were too expensive for most working-class employees and their families. In 1913,Henry Ford developed the disruptive technology that would end the Golden Age of urban transit: the moving assembly line. The moving assembly line allowed Ford to reduce the price of his cars even as he doubled worker pay, thus making it possible for even unskilled workers to buy automobiles. The share of American families that owned an automobile rapidly grew from less than 5 percent in 1913 to more than 50 percent in 1926. Perhaps even more important for public transit, the moving assembly line changed the nature of factories and jobs. Where once a single city block could hold a factory employing several thousand workers, moving assembly lines equired far more land. Ford’s Highland Park Plant, which built the Model T, covered 130 acres. His River Rouge Complex, which built the Model A, was 900 acres. Such large factories couldn’t locate within city centers, where land was expensive, so they moved to suburbs, thus other industires followed; thus turning monocentric cities into polycentric urban areas. Transit didn’t work as well for polycentric areas, and the transit that worked best was buses, not streetcars. As of 1922, buses cost more to operate than streetcars, but it cost transit companies far less to expand services using buses than streetcars because they didn’t have to build new rail. streetcar ridership peaked in 1920 and decline soon after. Buses soon outmoded streetcars. New engine technology and fitting smaller engines made buses less expensive to operate and maintain. Between 1910-1973 streetcars across the nation were scrapped except for a few. Thus, increasing automobile ownership was only part of the reason for transit’s decline, the other part being the increasing diffusion of jobs, most of which are not easily accessible by any form of transit.

  • Claude

    A quick history lesson for those who didn’t learn this: Rail is obsolete because starting in 1915 the Federal government began an aggressive program of building tax exempt, government mandated, government constructed and government operated highways. This was paid for directly from the general fund. Regulation was and remains extremely light.
    Rail transit was heavily taxed and part of that money went to building highways and later airports. Railroads were strictly regulated by the ICC, including what routes they had to run, what they were allowed to charge and how they were permitted to compete.Most local transit companies not only got no subsidies, they also had to pay for their own equipment and infrastructure, including, i many cities, paving and maintaining the roads along which they ran track. Jitneys at the time were completely unregulated and could use the roads provided by the streetcar companies at no charge to compete with the trolleys. Streetcars could only raise rates with the cities permission.
    No quick, tell me about how that’s a free market condition when one industry is heavily subsidize, mandated and built by the government while the other is heavily regulated and used to help pay for the axe used to attack them. Try to do it with a straight face for extra points.
    As for the subsidy per passenger mile, please go back and refer to my above post about economy of scale and market penetration. It’s not a difficult point.
    I agree that few people among the total US population ride rail transit. I also think that the percentage of the total US population that drives on the I-40 between New Mexico and Oklahoma is also quite small, and for the same reason. You can’t use what you can’t reach. Few places have rail transit, and those that do only have it in a few corridors, so even in the specific areas that have rail most people aren’t along the corridor. Along the actual corridors served by the rails, the ridership is usually fairly high, taking a large number of drivers off the road and opening room for other people to drive.
    When you talk about replacing trains with buses to reduce subsidies, I might point out that there’s usually a 40% bus penalty in ridership. Almost half of your customers will shift to private cars if trains are replaced by buses. Rail transit is a mode of choice for those wishing to avoid highway congestion. Buses are in the congestion, and make frequent stops that make them even slower. They’re a mode of necessity for those who can’t dive a car and have no choice.
    I might also point out that a bus is 20% more expensive to operate per passenger mile, While you talk about fare box recovery of transit, it’s interesting to separate that by mode. Buses only return on the average 20-30% of their costs from the fare box, while rail transit averages 30-60%. Many individual lines, such as the San Diego Blue Line exceed 80% return, and the Blue Line has had profitable years, something San Diego never sees with their bus routes.
    The Surfliner between San Diego and Santa Barbara was profitable in 1993 and currently has a recovery rate about 90%. Highways, as you say, are only at 50.7%. I’ll take your word on that.
    So if we eliminated all subsidies, the Surfliner or Blue Line would have to increase fares by about 10% while the gas tax and fees would have to double; far more than the “penny a gallon” you mentioned.
    By the way, you never mentioned where you were going to get the land for all the new urban freeways. Already so much of the tax base has been converted to tax consuming highways that the economic density of most cities has fallen below the break-even point. As the subsidies to operate the highways and roads continue to fall short, more cities are at the edge of bankruptcy. Do we start shooting every third taxpayer to make room?

  • LazyReader

    Subsidies to driving are vastly lower than transit per capita. After
    adjusting for inflation, transit agencies have spent more than $1.6
    trillion on operations and improvements since 1970, while collecting
    less than $500 billion in fares. Per passenger mile, transit is the
    nation’s most expensive and most heavily subsidized form of travel. So much for your argument government deliberately favoring…..short distance passenger trains were made obsolete by buses in the 1920’s, Long distance passenger trains were made obsolete by planes in the 1960’s. Now the last bastion of service they want is the intermediate travel market (50-300 miles) and inter-city buses are already growing faster to accommodate that market.

    Transit’s also one of the most perversely politically manipulated industries in America. In 2015, transit agencies spent average $1.14 per passenger mile, while Amtrak costs averaged nearly 60 cents, driving averaged 26 cents, and flying averaged about 16 cents per passenger mile. Of those costs, transit subsidies averaged 87 cents per passenger mile (76% of costs), compared with 30 cents for Amtrak (50%) and less than 2 cents for flying and driving (12.5 and 7.6%). More than a trillion dollars in subsidies since 1970 has produced minimal transportation benefits. Transit ridership grew from about 7.5 billion rides in 1970 to 10.5 billion in 2015. However, urban populations have nearly quadrupled so the number of annual transit trips per average urban resident declined from 50 in 1970 to 39 in 2016. Urban congestion has grown, partly because many urban areas allocate most of their transportation funds on transit systems that carry less than 1-3% of passenger travel and virtually no freight, rather than the roads and streets that carry around 95% of passengers and around 99% of local freight. So level the playing field, eliminate subsidies to both. If you eliminated subsidies to driving overnight, motorists would have to fork over an additional penny for every mile they drive; if transit subsidies disappeared (fares would have to double or triple to cover operating expenses alone, forgetting maintenance obligations) the industry would COLLAPSE.

    But the industry is already collapsing despite the subsidies. The passage of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, cities quickly municipalized transit and private and still profitable transit companies became boondoggle building, federal tax exploiting waste machines with a political machine embedded to keep the finances rolling regardless of ridership rates. What subsidies did was incentivize agencies to abandon cost efficiency and start building rail lines out in the boondocks and suburbs for people that barely use it all the while ignoring the core market. Transit amounts to less than 1% in all but a handful of approximately 360 census defined urbanized places…. In other words, if transit disappeared tomorrow in most places most people would hardly notice…or care. Outside a couple of cities like New York it’s not vital to urban economies. Ride sharing services have obliterated it’s customer base.

    Transit agencies should prepare for the inevitable phase out of their
    rail systems in places where it’s largely unnecessary; Stop building new
    rails and saddling future taxpayers with debts. Replace their existing
    lines with buses. Subsidize people who really need transit (lower
    income, elderly, handicapped) with transit vouchers redeemable for ride services. Start paying down their debts and unfunded pension and health care obligations instead of pursuing some holy crusade of getting higher income people out of their cars.

  • Claude

    Where do you plan to put all these highways?
    We don’t need these highways in the back country. There’s no significant congestion there. We need the lanes in the city where the highways are already built past the limit. Any more lanes require tearing down large numbers of homes and businesses. We’ve already gutted the cities to the point that they can no longer pay their bills. Removing more of the tax base makes the problem worse.
    In addition, a double track light rail has the equivalent capacity of a 6 lane freeway and requires less than 50 feet of right-of-way.
    The freeway requires 300 feet pus the space for the interchanges. One interchange covers as much land as medieval Florence.
    I will agree that few people use light rail and that it’s expensive per rider. This is called “economy of scale.” Few people even have access to light rail so they can’t ride it if they want to. The fixed costs are spread across a very small population. Rail, catenary and railcars are made in very small semi-custom batches so the price is very high per unit.
    Highways, on the other hand, are omnipresent. you can’t get away from them, and you can’t even travel within your region without using them, so the usage is inflated by both high prevalence and practical requirement. You can’t opt out unless you only want to sit home and wait to die. In most places there are no alternatives.
    So materials and equipment are made in huge numbers, making the cost per unit very low.
    This is not a result of the free market. This is the natural result of the government deliberately favoring one form of transportation with high subsidies and promotion while stifling the competition with high taxes and regulation.

  • 50.7%? What happened to gas taxes pay for the the lion’s share of the roadway system.

    BTW one of the upcoming interesting things to watch is what to do about the federal trust funds for transportation when FAST expires in two years. I still remember how shocked I was when the Congress dipped into the general fund to prop it up. Never thought that would happen.

  • Yet, the conservatives managed to only notice the transit portion and whipped themselves into a frenzy about repeal because of it.

  • Vooch

    methinks the lady doth protest too much

  • LazyReader

    That’s absurd. Because ironically Streetsblog posted another piece. The Tax Foundation
    shows 50.7 percent of America’s road spending comes from gas taxes,
    tolls, and other fees levied on drivers; in other words general expected user fees. The other 49.3 percent? Well,
    that comes from general tax dollars (like property taxes for streets in neighborhoods which is fair; shit if you have four wheel drive you can drive on gravel), just like education and health
    care. Transit fares cover 21 percent of costs nationwide, that total average is bucked across the nation; namely because New York covers 49% of it’s operating costs via fares, leaving virtually nothing left for it’s massive 37 Billion dollar maintenance backlog. Other cities it’s less.
    Soooooo if it’s 50.7% coming from gas taxes, tolls and fees, than simply raising those fees, not the entire price of gas; the average American pays 72 cents in taxes per gallon of gas; the irony is the Reagan era gas tax diverts some gas taxes to pay for transit but transit isn’t forced to contribute to highway maintenance UNLESS the transit mode in question is road dependent like Buses/vans/paratransit vehicles.
    Companies in India and Japan are experimenting with recycled waste plastic to use as road surface to supplement or opposed to use to asphalt. With plastic per pound way cheaper, it costs 102,000 dollars per mile to pave a two lane highway with asphalt. With this plastic/asphalt mix, the life expectancy can be doubled cutting service costs in half. Second you can still drive on a road if it’s cracked or crumbles, granted it’s not a pleasant ride but still driveable.

    A minor increase in highway user fees can easily finance the maintenance backlog; there’s no way in hades a user fee increase would do anything to increase rail transit rider ship. If anything a fee increase would deter more people. San Juan, Puerto Rico had an entirely private transit system, it consisted of shared taxis owned by individual operators “publicos” or “collectivos” and basically offered door to door service; the left wing government outlawed the collectivos and spent billions on public bus and rail; lost passengers, pissed off the populace and ultimately that left wing govt was voted out of office. Hawaii is spending 10 Billion dollars on a elevated low capacity rapid transit project that’ll only serve about 30% of the geographic region of Oahu.
    The city and state officials who promoted the line now admit that they don’t know how they are going to
    pay for the cost of operating that line; probably by cannibalizing The Bus system

  • Facts? How dare you pollute this discussion with real information! 😉

  • Actually at the California Passenger Rail Summit it was pointed out ride sharing services are being subsidized, just by Wall Street instead of the taxpayers. That is why they are able to undercut the taxi industry for pricing which is mostly driving their popularity. The likely scenarios are:

    1) Wall Street decides that it isn’t going to be profitable soon enough to suit it and they pull their support — poof, it vanishes

    2) It grabs enough marketshare to mostly drive taxis out of business and then are able to raise prices dramatically.

    If we do what you want transit as an alternative or providing competition to keep them from gouging hipsters etc. will not happen with bad consequences (except for their profits). Is it smart to put everything in one basket?

    I was on a Jury once and the obvious bias one witness had for his employer made me doubt everything he said, including descriptions of office practices. In fiction writing this is known as being an unreliable narrator. Your obvious dogmatic myopic ideologue makes it impossible to trust your analysis and the statistics you cite.

    Doing really, really long posts (a form of net discourse I call bricks) just come across as trying to “win” by drowning the discussion via an excess of verbiage. Whatever your goal all it does is make people scroll pass to find something informative. If you think you’ll somehow squelch other viewpoints etc. your keyboard pounding is pointless.

    Transit carries people. Statistics etc. are not the whole story. And when your predictions of doom don’t happen life will go on and likely you will have found someplace else to vent as people eventually will simply ignore you on the Streetsblog network.

    Enjoy your future of diminishment. Had great fun creating an Internet troll today for the novel I am crafting that you inspired. Ha!

  • Vooch

    sorry

    in order to eliminate subsidies for driving gasoline would need to be between $8 – 12 / gallon

  • LazyReader

    Subsidies to driving are vastly lower than transit per capita. After adjusting for inflation, transit agencies have spent more than $1.6 trillion on operations and improvements since 1970, while collecting less than $500 billion in fares. Per passenger mile, transit is the nation’s most expensive and most heavily subsidized form of travel. It’s also one of the most perversely politically manipulated industries in America. In 2015, transit agencies spent average $1.14 per passenger mile, while Amtrak costs averaged nearly 60 cents, driving averaged 26 cents, and flying averaged about 16 cents per passenger mile. Of those costs, transit subsidies averaged 87 cents per passenger mile (76% of costs), compared with 30 cents for Amtrak (50%) and less than 2 cents for flying and driving (12.5 and 7.6%). More than a trillion dollars in subsidies since 1970 has produced minimal transportation benefits. Transit ridership grew from about 7.5 billion rides in 1970 to 10.5 billion in 2015. However, urban populations have nearly quadrupled so the number of annual transit trips per average urban resident declined from 50 in 1970 to 39 in 2016. Urban congestion has grown, partly because many urban areas allocate most of their transportation funds on transit systems that carry less than 1-3% of passenger travel and virtually no freight, rather than the roads and streets that carry around 95% of passengers and around 99% of local freight. So level the playing field, eliminate subsidies to both. If you eliminated subsidies to driving overnight, motorists would have to fork over an additional penny for every mile they drive; if transit subsidies disappeared (fares would have to double or triple to cover operating expenses alone, forgetting maintenance obligations) the industry would COLLAPSE. But the industry is already collapsing despite the subsidies. Transit carries about 20% of work commuters in just 6 major cities and just ONE of the nations 60 largest urban areas. It amounts to 1% of total passenger travel in a vast majority of urbanized areas. Transit amounts to less than 1% in all but a handful of approximately 360 census defined urbanized places…. In other words, if transit disappeared tomorrow in most places most people would hardly notice…or care. Outside New York it’s not vital to urban economies and in most urban areas barely perceptible except as either dilapidated, antiquated or a tax burden. Ride sharing services have virtually obliterated it’s customer base. In places where transit is needed agencies should make a priority of utilizing the most financially efficient means of providing transit; Buses and vanpools. In places where it’s unnecessary; local governments and Grassroots groups should incentivize carpooling to reduce vehicular traffic and reduce air pollution. Outside New York and maybe Chicago transit agencies should prepare for the inevitable phase out of their rail systems in places where it’s largely unnecessary; Stop building new rails and saddling future taxpayers with debts. Replace their existing lines with buses. Subsidize people who really need transit (lower income, elderly, handicapped, children) with transit vouchers redeemable for ride services. Start paying down their debts and unfunded pension and health care obligations instead of pursuing some holy crusade of getting higher income people out of their cars.

  • Vooch

    If the cost of driving was no longer subsidized VMT would decrease by 1/2

  • Vooch

    local streets are typically paid via property & sales taxes

  • LazyReader

    Congestion is not gonna disappear, only curtailed. You wanna see tolls go up to curtail people from driving, I don’t I wanna see tolls utilized for their intended purpose, overhauling the roads and fixing our tunnels and bridges. UC professor Charles Lave insisted on observing the “Law of Large Proportions.” Investing $1 Billion on the option used by 87.9% of the people (Drive Alone and Carpool) will produce far more benefits than investing the same $1 Billion on the option used by 2.0% of the people (Rail). Since buses share the same roads, their fuel taxes go towards road upkeep. Anything you can do with trains in a modest sized metropolitan area you can do with buses for a fraction of the price. Nashville shouldn’t have to saddle taxpayers and future taxpayers with enormous debt.
    Rail transit is dying for a lot of reasons, 1: they’ve ignored decades of maintenance to spend billions expanding system lines out to neighboring counties to attract higher income people out of their cars a miserable waste of resources. Rather than fix what they have. 2: Transit doesn’t carry freight; even if it somehow did, it cant compete with a simple van that can deliver it’s cargo straight to a residence. 3: Roads can handle more abuse; if your road is cracked, crumbling so what you can still drive it. Cracked rails, is a disaster waiting 4: Compared with the safety/security of personal auto use, Crime, sexual harrassment, graffiti, poor hygiene, privacy invasions, lewd acts like masturbation/urination are common on metro systems 5: The transit industry has seen a massive 50% worker productivity decline since it’s been municipalized. They have more employees than ever before to accommodate the same exact task.
    No city with less than a million people needs rail transit anymore.
    Cities as small as Nashvile could alleviate it’s traffic much more cheaply simply by:

    charging single occupancy driver congestion fees in it’s most congested
    roads enacted during Rush Hour and use the money to repair their
    crumbling roads and bridges and tunnels; and have fixed legislation so
    this money won’t be pilfered by the Rail Transit agencies.
    – Improve traffic signal coordination to move more vehicles per hour.
    – Deregulate the transit industry and allow people to start their own transit services; use their cars to move people outside the scope of taxis
    – Convert County’s HOV lanes into HOV/HOT lanes, give buses free access
    – offer tax incentives for low income residents who use their cars to shuttle people.
    – Let private engineering firms build their own tunnels and toll lanes and charge people the right to use them.
    – Encourage urban cycling, 1,000 cyclers means 1,000 fewer cars
    – The average transit bus is no more than 1/6th full to capacity. Why carry around an empty 5/6ths. Transit agencies should replace their 40 foot buses with smaller mini-buses. They take up less road space, brake shorter distances, easier to navigate the one/two lane roads, the vehicles are cheaper to buy and operate.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    We can definitely agree on raising tolls. They should go up until congestion disappears.

  • LazyReader

    Than the state needs to raise tolls. state roads tend to be funded out of user fees while city streets tend to be funded out of property taxes and other general funds. Since many states dedicate most or all gas taxes and tolls to road construction and maintenance, these functions are well funded. City
    officials, however, may see little reason to spend general funds on streets when they could be spent on more exciting (but more useless) projects such as streetcars and other urban monuments. For example, as noted here before, Portland is spending less than 13 percent of what is needed to keep its
    streets in their current poor state of repair, much less enough to improve them. According to a year-old report from The Road Information Project, cities with the worst roads tend to be in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and other states with poor road conditions. Meanwhile California has 100 Billion? for a train no ones going to ride.
    Advocates of property taxes for funding city streets argue that
    property values are enhanced by the streets so property owners should fund them. However, this system provides poor links between road users and road providers, making it too easy for cities to ignore the streets in favor of other things that property owners may support. In the long run, American highways, roads, and streets will do best when they are
    funded exclusively out of user fees rather than general funds.

  • Jason

    Straight from Caltrans (which supports the argument that, no, user fees are certainly not paying all the costs of the roads): http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/eab/fundchrt_files/2017_Transportation_Funding.pdf

  • Jeffrey Baker

    No amount of timecube-grade keyboard spew can fix your math. Add up all of the gas taxes and fees collected in California on one hand. Then on the other hand, add up all the money spent on road building and maintenance, the DMV, and the CHP. You’ll find that one of these numbers is substantially larger than the other. For instance in 2015 the state collected only $5.7 billion while spending $17 billion.

  • LazyReader

    Yes they do. The interstate highway system was built on a pay as you go basis. It took 50 years to build and completely interconnect and was payed for nearly entirely out of user fees, gas taxes and tolls. Unlike the maintenance backlog for highways and bridges, which could be easily eliminated with a small increase in fuel taxes or other user fees like tolls, the transit industry has no hope of fixing its backlog by raising transit fares; that would just make their systems EVEN LESS POPULAR. And we use roads more. A four lane highway costs about 8-11 million
    dollars per mile, and only about 1.25 million per mile to repair or
    refurbish. A mile of lightrail costs between 50-250 million per mile and nearly as much to repair. Their fares DON’T EVEN BEGIN to cover operating costs. Much less the inevitable costs of maintenance. Rail infrastructure has a life expectancy of 30 years. Once it’s reached that age you either have to replace it or painstakingly refurbish it or it starts to experience delays, problems or accidents. DC metrorail is over 30 years now they’re experiencing derailments and accidents that led to loss of lives. Based on data by the National Transit Database, Fare Revenue and Operating Expenses spreadsheets. Transit systems in the New York Urban area collect enough fares to cover 49% of their operating costs, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, SF and DC’ only covers about 40%. This means they would need to increase fares by 100-150% to cover operating costs……………MUCH LESS leave anything left for maintenance. Those are just best case scenarios. The Worse situations are the rail transit systems in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles. They only collect enough fares to cover about 10-20% of their operating costs. UC professor Charles Lave insisted on observing the “Law of Large Proportions.” Investing $1 Billion on the option used by 87.9% of the people (Drive Alone and Carpool) will produce far more benefits than investing the same $1 Billion on the option used by 2.0% of the people (Rail).
    Other reasons transit is falling apart is because it only carries People. Roads have the advantage of carrying both passengers and freight. Roads can handle more abuse than rail, If your road is crumbling or
    cracking……so what you can still drive on it if YOUR RAIL IS CRACKED
    OR Rusting you’re in a heap of trouble. Compared with the safety and security and Comfort of riding a car,
    Crime, sexual harassment, graffiti, unpleasant odors, poor hygiene,
    invasions of privacy and depraved acts like masturbation or defecation,
    are common on metro systems throughout the world (Over 90% of Japanese women admit that they’ve been sexually assaulted on The Tokyo Subway). Most transit is oriented to downtown, a destination few people go to
    anymore. If you don’t want to go downtown, transit is practically
    useless.

  • LazyReader

    BART has serious problems of it’s own. Its railcars are old and need to be replaced; A series of mysterious power surges disrupted trains; and the agency recently admitted that many of the security cameras on its trains are either fake or broken. BART sent out a series of less-than-apologetic tweets to its customers listing a variety of excuses for its failings.
    “Planners in 1996 had no way of predicting the tech boom, track
    redundancy, new tunnels & transbay tubes are decades-long projects,”
    says one. “BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of
    our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality,”
    adds another.

    The agency is apparently arguing that it needs more money, but i t’s really making the case against a rail transit technology that can’t quickly respond to changes in demand because it is too expensive and time-consuming to expand. For example, instead of doing basic maintenance or expanding capacity where it was needed, BART–like the Washington Metro–decided to build new lines that aren’t needed and that will only add to its long-term maintenance woes. One such unnecessary line is the $6.5-billion route to San Jose which won’t be completed before 2025 and is redundant anyway as San
    Jose already has commuter trains to San Francisco. Another is the Oakland Airport Connector, a 3.2-mile rail line that cost half a billion dollars and charges $6 fares while buses on the same route cost only $2.10. Silicon Valley moves it’s workforce using fleet buses, it’s SOoooo innovative.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Roads don’t come anywhere near self-funding from gas taxes though. A small amount of the gas tax is diverted to transit projects, and a monumental amount of general funds are diverted to roads.

  • LazyReader

    Why, gas taxes are paid for by auto drivers, who drive on roads. Why shouldn’t infrastructure be paid for out of user fees instead of taxes. Why should drivers have to pay for both roads they use and transit they don’t. Rail transit it obsolete.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    The vast majority of these recommended projects are freeway expansions. I don’t like it.

  • Minivet

    Wait, wasn’t RM3 also supposed to fund the BART extension to San Jose? If it passes and SB1 sticks, does that free up a bunch of toll money?

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