Gas Tax Repeal Would Be a Disaster, Say Cities

John Cox addressed the TV cameras on the Capitol steps. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
John Cox addressed the TV cameras on the Capitol steps. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

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The California legislature held a hearing Monday on an initiative to repeal S.B. 1, which raised gas taxes last year. The repeal initiative will be on the November ballot, and this hearing was required by law to be held before the end of June. So even though it was delayed for almost three hours—the Poor People’s Campaign successfully interrupted business for a while in the legislative chambers—members of the committee dutifully filed in to sit and look at their phones while the public weighed in.

At least, what public was left to weigh in. The delay meant that several people who hoped to speak had to leave before the hearing was called to order. They included representatives from the NAACP and TransForm, both of whom said they supported the new gas taxes. Of the people that did stick around, all but a few spoke in strong opposition to the repeal.

Representatives from city after city after county after transit agency opposed the repeal. Government reps listed the repaving and road maintenance projects that they would no longer be able to fund, the jobs that their communities would lose, the leverage for more funding they would no longer have, and the backwards leap in pavement and transit vehicle quality that would be inevitable if S.B. 1 funding were no longer available.

Carl DeMaio, the author of the repeal initiative, also stuck around. He tried, unsuccessfully, to be the very last speaker at the hearing, waiting outside the chambers until public comment was about to close and then swooping in, muttering soto voce: “All right, then, I will.”

DeMaio had been joined by gubernatorial candidate John Cox outside the Capitol earlier in the afternoon, both of them addressing speeches to an audience of TV cameras plus a few curious observers (many of whom showed up later to testify against the repeal). DeMaio accused the committees—it was a joint hearing between the Senate Housing and Transportation, Assembly Transportation, and Assembly Revenue and Taxation committees—of holding a hearing “without inviting the opposition” so as to form the impression of unity against the repeal.

On the other side of the Capitol, proponents of the gas tax held their own press conference. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
On the other side of the Capitol, proponents of the gas tax held their own press conference. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

He may have forgotten about the Republicans on the dais, none of whom voted for S.B. 1.

DeMaio also accused the legislators of absconding with transportation funds to pay for pensions, as well as for road diets and transit. He pronounced the words “road diets” and “transit” with heavy sarcasm. If that is going to be a talking point in the campaign to repeal S.B. 1—and it will be—it’s something proponents of S.B. 1’s transportation revenue need to address, and loudly. The rhetoric from DeMaio and company has been that building roads for cars is the only qualified use for gas taxes. Repeal proponents push the idea that transit and alternative modes bring no benefits, have nothing to do with mobility, and do nothing to relieve traffic congestion.

DeMaio also threatened the legislators’ jobs, using the recall of Assemblymember Josh Newman, who voted for S.B. 1, as an example of what could happen to them. Nevertheless, DeMaio remained vague about how road maintenance would be paid for if the repeal were to pass in November. “When this passes, we will rebuild our roads with the money we’ve already provided,” he said—inferring that transportation would be paid for out of the state’s general fund.

A reminder: S.B. 1 raised the gas tax twelve cents per gallon, after two decades of declining–and increasingly uncertain–revenue due to more efficient vehicles and a refusal to adjust existing taxes. Meanwhile the price of gas has fluctuated by more than $1 just in the last year, and by a lot more than that if you go back a few years. S.B. 1 will raise $4.4 billion this year, and up to $5 billion a year in the future, to cover a maintenance backlog that stretches back for decades. S.B. 1 has oversight from a new Inspector General, and the just-passed constitutional amendment Proposition 69 prohibits using the revenue for anything but transportation.

The long line of people who waited to testify offered the following information about local impacts of the gas tax:

  • Bad roads are “a heavy economic burden on farmers,” according to a representative of Merced County. Rough pavement and potholes greatly decrease the efficiency of vehicles transporting crops, compared to being able to operate on smooth pavement, he said. Although the amount of money Merced is getting from S.B. 1 is not as much as other areas, it would allow the county, for the first time, to develop a long-term plan for road maintenance.
  • A representative of Marin County said that while proponents can list the benefits available from the gas tax revenue, it was also important to talk about costs. He calculated that the cost of maintaining roads came to an average of fourteen cents per day.
  • A representative from Brisbane pointed out that potholes and bad roads are more than just an inconvenience. “When we don’t maintain infrastructure, we knowingly place the public at risk,” he said. A speaker representing the city of Lodi had a similar message. Repealing the funding would, he said, “jeopardize public safety, and cost taxpayers much more money in the long run.”
  • From Turlock: “S.B. 1 enables cities and counties, for once, to have a funding mechanism to address maintenance. Our pavement condition is deteriorating rapidly, and the $850,000 we got this year is not chump change to us.”
  • Lakewood: “The repeal would derail projects large and small that improve the quality of life in this underinvested community.”
  • Nevada County: “S.B. 1 fills a funding gap we cannot fill, and we would have to leave our roads unmaintained. Also, how can we make any progress towards Vision Zero without funding?”

Throughout the state, agencies are getting to work on long lists of needed transportation infrastructure maintenance. These efforts may be short-lived if voters repeal S.B. 1.

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  • TexasOlTimer

    My son’s a long haul truck driver. He tells me that as much as possible, the trucks fill up before going into California and purchase as little as possible while there – enough to deliver their loads, get another and leave the state where they fill up again. The cost of diesel is just so high. These trucks have two fuel tanks that will hold 100 to 150 gallons each when full depending on the truck brand. They get an average of 4 to 8 mpg depending on the load and terrain. Do the math on what the state loses when a driver purchases just enough to get out of the state instead of filling up.

  • Guy Ross

    If you wish to plagiarize O’Tool from his perch within right wing think tank in the Washington Post, you should at least give him credit:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/22bc78acf201e41cb9ec044f5d0b0ba9a5fcbdfe09776b6b9ee1902cb9848622.gif
    Oh, and if you enter the plagiarized text into ‘word’ and ‘remove all formatting’ it will be less obvious that you copied and pasted it into comments sections. You’re welcome….

  • LA and Santa Cruz *proper* (city limits of), yes. Not all the communities around them (and from which many are commuting to and fro).

    And Santa Cruz? How many of those people are going over the hill to San Jose or further? Many. And there is no planned rail for connecting them. Not even reviving the agonizingly slow old “Suntan Special” rail line would achieve that, and rebuilding that now that Lexington Reservoir is present would be problematic to say the least.

  • Evan D

    Los Angeles as a whole is close to twice as dense as Bogotá, with some neighborhoods almost six times as dense. Even Santa Cruz is denser.

  • I read it, but I remembers another initiative several years ago that promised the same thing, which passed overwhemingly too. Sadly, an “end run” was made around that initiative, and I am betting an end run will be made around Proposition 69 too.

  • No disagreement there, LR. And European cities are at least built in such a way as to make passenger rail feasible in the modern world, denser with shorter distances in between, so air travel and road travel is not so relatively advantageous.

    But the EuroRail fetishists in the USA have no reality basis, and they even denigrate the one thing railroads in the USA do incredibly well–shipping freight over long distances.

  • LazyReader

    Even if this train get’s built it wont be completed til 2035, that’s optimistic, since they don’t know how they’ll finance it, right now it’s partially being paid for with Carbon tax money, at that rate it’ll be finished in….400 years. High speed rail is failing everywhere else besides Japan, The European Court of Auditors; A review of 30 hsr lines in Europe come in 78% over budget and a decade behind schedule and has done nothing to slow the use of cars. According to the European Union, nearly 85% of passenger
    ground-level travel in the 28 countries that form the EU is by
    automobile, and high-speed rail has done nothing to reduce this. For
    example, in 1990, cars provided 84.8 percent of ground travel
    in France. Since then, despite France’s aggressive high-speed rail
    construction program, the percentage of ground travel by car was still
    84.8 percent in 2015. While rail’s share grew from 9.3 to 9.9%,
    it did so at the expense of cheap buses, not cars. Which if filled to capacity could reduce emissions.

  • Bogota has finally reached the density where a rail system makes sense. Most parts of California have not.

  • Or a “high speed” choo-choo that won’t be, given that it goes to LA via Tehachapi, Lancaster, Palmdale, and Santa Clarita. If the fuel tax really went to road improvements as promised and the voters were not “Baited and Switched”, there would be much less support for its repeal.

  • crazyvag

    Your suggestion lost credibly when you suggested that people are avoiding buses because of the current color scheme. Really? And what’s different about light rail schedule vs bus schedule? Your suggestions show a lack of understanding how world works. Buses get delayed each time a handicapped ramp is deployed. each time cars block the street. When bus hits so many red lights in a row. You could mitigate that with red bus lanes and traffic priority, but perhaps you didn’t see any articles about protests about red bus lanes in Mission and on Geary. There’s your idea about painted buses, and there’s reality that everyone else needs to deal with.

    And yes, BART IS replacing cars, so what’s your issue there?

    BART IS maintaining cars and yes, it’ll cost a billion and they’ll probably last us 40-50 years..

    I would challenge you to ask people of San Jose if they feel that extending BART to SJ is needed or not. But to you, it all seems unnecessary and because painted buses have been right under our noses all this time, and people have been avoiding them because of the paint scheme.

  • LazyReader

    BARTs deterioration is too profound for the city to put an emphasis on fixing it. They’re more interested in extending service out to neighborhing regions than fixing its pre-existing rail stock.
    Their rail cars are old an need to be replaced and thats going to cost a Billion or more. BART issues apologies in Tweet form for a lengthy list of excuses for its failures. 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. When bus-rapid transit proponents presented their ideas to BART (with the support of some BART board members), BART staff forwarded them to the consultants that hope to earn millions building the rail line asking them to “discredit” and “put holes” in the bus alternative. SF Muni has 510,000 daily riders, its the fifth busiest in the nation. All they have to do is run buses on light rail schedules, paint em a cool new color scheme and you can get a 30% bump in ridership….

  • crazyvag

    I think laws of physics dictate that you need more capacity than buses that are not new york. Market Street in SF has 3-4 bus lanes, and yet the subway below is packed.

    You’re also confused by forgetting that your 600 buses per hour need to stop for 30-60secs somewhere, and you simply can’t do that if they are all going to the same stop. If they go to different stops, then they’re suddenly not using the same lane you just described.

    Can you clarify how the number of people commuting between SF and Oakland would fit in all those buses? Where would the cars go? Where are all these bus stops.

    I’m sorry, but your idea sounds like rant without any data or basic science to back it up.

    For the record, a 10-car bart train has a capacity of about 2000 passengers, so with 22 trains per hour we currently have, we can move 44K people. How many buses and bus stops would you need to ADD to existing terminals to support that?

  • LazyReader

    What I understand is. Seattle want billions and billions of dollars to build something that benefits very few people that very few people utilize. Transit ridership has been sliding for decades as jobs have become less
    highly concentrated in city centers. Since 1970, the number of transit
    trips taken per urban resident has fallen more than 20%. Outside the
    areas of New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and
    Washington, transit carries less than 1% of passenger travel. This
    belies the claim that mass transit is vital to urban economies. Seattle ridership did increase in 2017, namely due to 300,000 jobs in the downtown area. But it’s starting to decline; the taxation debate in the city may drive out various businesses especially Amazon.

    Amazon wouldn’t be the first major employer that Seattle chased out
    of town. Boeing was once the dominant employer in the Puget Sound
    region, but a combination of land-use politics, unions, and traffic
    congestion persuaded the company to move its factories and other
    facilities to South Carolina and other places) and its headquarters to Chicago. Microsoft and other high-tech companies were growing as Boeing was leaving so the impacts were minor. But if Amazon goes, along with its retinue of suppliers, there might not be anyone else to fill the gap. Nearly all of these problems are self-inflicted. Many can be traced to the region’s 1984 urban-growth boundary,which has led to serious housing affordability issues.

    Another self-inflicted policy is Seattle’s lax approach to the
    homeless, which has led to many parks and nearby areas areas being
    littered with “contaminated dirty syringes, urine, feces,
    and hazardous materials.” Some people would be homeless no matter what housing cost, some homelessness is a result of the high housing prices, but Seattle’s only solution to the homeless is to spend lots of money on subsidies to affordable housing.

    Which brings us to a third self-inflicted problem: the massive 2016
    tax increase that the Puget Sound Transit Authority persuaded voters to approve for more light rail. When taxpayers got their bills for the new taxes, they revolted and have voted down numerous school levies and other local taxes that they previously would have passed.

    This means Seattle has little ability to raise ordinary taxes to pay
    for the homeless shelters that social justice warriors demand be built.
    So the council has effectively decided to impose a millionaire’s tax on
    the companies that employ the most people in the city. Eventually transit ridership will crash when businesses decide to leave.

  • Evan D

    None of this is convincing when you can’t demonstrate the most basic understanding of the cities and systems you are talking about. In your previous post, you proposed the existing I-405 HOT lanes as a novel, of which I already described the political issues and insufficiency for the I-5 corridor in our previous conversation. Why should I take you seriously when you keep explaining my own city to me so poorly, and neither acknowledge nor defend these errors when I correct them?

    These are not differences in prediction; Seattle has had BRT-lite for 8 years, HOT lanes for 3, and a combination bus/rail tunnel for 9, the bus portion of which has been open for 31 years. These are all on-the-ground facts which you seem completely unaware of. I think you should spend less time making predictions about the imminent collapse of our full-to-capacity light rail system and more time learning about the actual circumstances of our city. And for my part, I can’t see the point in commenting further if I’m only going to have to repeat myself in a few months time.

  • LazyReader

    No I’ve read. I just disagree. The Legacy rail systems will inevitably collapse and require some sort of massive federal Bailout (New York, Boston, Philadelphia) Short-distance trains (1-10 miles) were made obsolete by buses in the 1920s. Long-distance trains (500+) were made obsolete by planes in the 1960s. Intermediate distance trains (50-300 miles) will be made obsolete by passenger buses like Mega,Bolt, Peter Pan, Grey Hound that starting prices cost a dollar. Nationwide transit ridership has declined another 4.6% in 2017 alone. And some cities double digit percentages in decline. Transit is in decline because the alternatives are either faster, cheaper in some respect or more convenient. And attempts to revitalize it are destined to fail for 3 reasons. Just like Moores law for computing, Murphys law for systemic failure, Transportation has three basic laws.
    1: UC professor Charles Lave insisted on observing the “Law of Large Proportions.” Investing “X” amount of money, say $1 billion on the option A used by 95+% of the people (roads shared by those that drive alone, carpool, vanpool, shuttle, buses, etc.) will produce far more benefits than investing the same $1 Billion on the option B used by less than 2.0% of the people (Rail). Especially when Option A costs less per mile to build and maintain, serves a far wider geographic area
    2: In an area that already has transportation infrastructure, any transportation technology that requires new infrastructure to be built is doomed to fail because it will be unable to compete against technologies using existing infrastructure.
    3: Transportation efficiency isn’t always a matter of speed, convenience is also important…. Station to station transportation technology is no match for a technology that offers door to door convenience.

    Other reasons transit is collapsing…
    – It only carries people, unlike our road and highway system which doubles down being capable of carrying both people as well as freight, cargo, postage and parcels.
    – Roads can handle more abuse than rail. If your road is crumbling or cracking……it’ll be a bumpy ride but 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 and defecation, are common on metro systems throughout the world.
    – Few use it because few need it. In 1960, when most of the nation’s
    transit was private (and profitable), 7.81 million people took transit
    to work. By 2015, the nation’s working population had grown by nearly
    130 percent, and taxpayers had spent well over 1.6 trillion dollars
    improving and operating urban transit systems. Yet the number of people taking transit to work had declined to 7.76 million.
    – The core demographic of people that require transit services; The elderly, the handicapped, children and the poor. Transit agencies seem hellbent to expand rail service to the outermost suburbs in some vain attempt to get people out of their cars while ignoring what used to be their core market. Paratransit has usurped the role for elderly and handicapped by being able to take them to their exact destination, from home. Passenger vans can take children to whatever event they need to be. Programs aimed to help poor people get cars have demonstrated they’re effective at alleviating poverty by granting poor people FAR GREATER geographic access to jobs and housing opportunity.

  • Evan D

    I don’t think you’re actually reading anything I write. I’ve already covered everything you just wrote.

  • LazyReader

    The fact is, Outside New York rail transit makes very little sense. No city with less than a million people needs rail transit or a population density of over 15,000 per sq. mile. Seattle, is 4,300 per sq mile. Seattle’s first light-rail line cost $3.1 billion in 1995 dollars, or $5.2 billion in today’s money. Seattle’s second light-rail line cost a cool $2 billion for 3.1 miles, making it one of the most expensive lines ever built.

    Seattle’s light-rail lines are so expensive because they are mostly grade separated from traffic. That’s good for safety, but it means that Seattle has a very high-cost, low-capacity system. In short, the region has spent a lot of money on light rail and not gotten much for it. The cost of the Northgate-Lynnwood line has doubled as these projects often do. 34 light-rail vehicles that by themselves will cost well over $100 million. These could be replaced by about 100 standard buses that would cost less than $50 million.

    Since the proposed light-rail line uses the Interstate 5 alignment, the state could instead construct high-occupancy/toll lanes on I-5 that the buses could use, thus avoiding congestion and moving faster than light rail. The cost of those lanes would be partly or entirely covered by the tolls charged to low-occupancy vehicles, but even if no tolls were collected, they would cost far less to build than the $400 million per mile planned for the light rail. ST3, which was approved by voters in 2016, calls for spending more than $50 billion on transit capital improvements, mostly for 62 miles of light-rail lines.

    The agency is counting on just 11 percent of that federal grants — but that’s still more than $5.5 billion. This is on top of several billion in federal funding already committed or spent for ST1 and ST2. No other urban area has received anything close to $5 billion in federal funding for light-rail construction. Only one urban area, Washington DC, has received more than $5 billion for heavy-rail construction. So why should Seattle expect to get so much more than any other urban area? The answer is that it shouldn’t, and Sound Transit’s expectation of doing so is just one more overly optimistic assumption.

  • Evan D

    Perhaps that particular line is a bad idea, perhaps not—I don’t know Portland well enough to say. But saying that light rail is a waste of money across-the-board, that it would make any sort of sense to convert the NY subway to unguided buses, or that light rail doesn’t belong in Seattle, is astoundingly misinformed.

  • LazyReader

    372 people, They can only run 20 trains per hour. that’s 7,440 people which is paltry at best. Busway capacity can be increased by running more buses or running buses capable of carrying more people. Yet, year after year, plan after plan, Metro planners devote more a
    disproportionate share of the region’s transportation funding to
    transit, and mostly for rail transit. Metro’s 2035 Regional Transportation Plan,
    for example, calls for spending 30% of capital funds on transit. When operating costs are added, most of the region’s
    transportation dollars go for a mode that carries just 2.6 percent of
    motorized travel (and less than 2.6 percent of all travel). A Portland City Commissioner said it would cost a
    billion dollars over ten years to bring Portland’s streets up to par.
    Well, TriMet’s proposed S.W. light rail would cost two billion to build. The Feds would match half the cost, so the local
    billion is just what they need to bring their real transportation system
    (their roads) up to par and that’s what they need. Certainly not a 2
    billion dollar boondoggle to S.W. that less than 1% of the folks would
    use. Transit carries just 2.6 percent of motorized travel in the Portland
    urban areas, and since light rail is less than 40 percent of transit,
    that means light rail is less than 1 percent of all motorized travel in the area but it eats up most of their transportation budget….waste of money.

  • Evan D

    1. Could you please break up your posts into paragraphs?
    2. “And you could replace the trains…..with long articulated buses and turn the track into a flat road.”

    There’s absolutely no advantage to doing so. The expense of a subway comes from the tunnel, not the tracks themselves. If you rip them up and replace with buses, you now have smaller vehicles that require steering, increasing driver training requirements and the risk of accidents while decreasing top speed. You’re also increasing maintenance costs; rubber on asphalt has *higher* costs than steel on steel, not lower: https://www.wavestone.com/app/uploads/2017/04/world-best-driverless-metro-lines-2017.pdf

    3. “New York is the one US city whose geographic layout where rail transit makes any sense…But for cities like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco is nonsense and expensive.”

    You couldn’t be more wrong about Seattle; we’re one of the *best* cases for light rail. Our city is one big bottleneck, with water on 3 sides of downtown. All north-south traffic has to funnel through 5 bridges, and adding new crossings is extremely expensive. That makes it crucial to get maximum capacity out of each crossing, and light rail is far superior to buses in that regard, as I’ve previously pointed out. San Francisco is in a similar situation.

    Last time we talked, you “invented” the RapidRide service that we’ve had for 8 years. I really think that you should do some more research on our city before you decide how our transportation system should be set up.

    Meanwhile, your assertions about TriMet and its funding are 5 years out-of-date. A MAX train that is “only” 200 feet long can still carries 372 people, or more than 3× what a bus can do. And light rail consistently has higher farebox recovery than buses, and costs less than BRT in both capital and maintenance when comparing apples-to-apples: https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/10/12/brt-is-not-cheaper-than-light-rail/ To call it “expensive” is simply not accurate.

  • LazyReader

    Rail infrastructure has an expected life of about 30 years and must be thoroughly rebuilt or rehabilitated at the end of that time or risk suffering numerous delays, accidents, and other problems. New York’s subway system went through such a crisis in the 80s, but it fixed the problems by spending billions of dollars and going heavily into debt. Now, roughly 30 years later, the debt remains, and the delays and breakdowns have returned. The city now blames it’s deterioration on overcrowding, when it’s due to maintenance neglect and obsolete equipment. By 2016 NY MTA was saddled with 37 billion in long term debt and double that in liabilities. Instead of fixing the subway and shutting down it’s least used stations to save money the city went on a spending binge. 10 Billion on the East Side Access. 4.5 Billion on the first leg of the planned 17 billion dollar 2nd Ave subway, 2.5 billion extending 7 subway line a mere mile in length.New York is the one US city whose geographic layout where rail transit makes any sense. And you could replace the trains…..with long articulated buses and turn the track into a flat road. Once you’re outside new york and Bogota the population density changes so low that rail makes no sense. Light rail capacity is dependent on length and city block size, Portland only 200 feet so it’s trains are only 200 feet, average they move 8000 per hour, buses given systemic priority can move just as many and do so over a far vaster geographic range. Portlands, TriMet is so financially distressed it will have to cut it’s service 70% by 2025. Rail is fine for cities like New York, Bogota and London. But for cities like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco is nonsense and expensive. Rail would make sense in SF if they had built conventional subway.

  • Evan D

    1. 600 buses per hour is an imaginary number, concocted from oversimplified assumptions. The best-performing bus corridors in the world do just over a third of that.
    2. Even if it had any basis in reality, you can’t compare a maximum to an average. At least use the highest real-world number of trains per hour to compare to your made-up figure.
    3. The highest-capacity articulated bus I could find can carry 120 people. Seattle’s light rail maxes out at around 750 per vehicle. A London Underground train carries just over 1,000 per vehicle

    So no, buses will not move more people per hour than rail. Any technology, like driverless vehicles, that could improve the figures for buses will also improve the figures for trains. And it’s quite doubtful that an open system that allows private vehicles to mix with buses will ever equal a closed system.

    Bogota has the largest BRT system in the world, and they’ve hit the cap on what it can do. They’re now looking to build a rail system to move more people: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-10-21/can-modern-megacity-bogot-get-without-subway

    It should be readily obvious why buses can’t replace the NY subway, but if not, here’s a simple illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv916r2UcaU

  • Yeah, well, good luck with that. I have been fighting for pension reform for 7 years and it has led to nothing – in spite of huge efforts.

  • xplosneer

    The gas tax should NOT be repealed and fiscal restraints should still be forced on the legislature (in terms of bloated pensions).

    FTFY

  • LazyReader

    Public transit is dying all across the nation. Despite the name “Rapid transit” there’s nothing rapid about it. Because station to station transportation technology is no match for automotive technology that provides door to door service. Almost every transit agency in the country is either bankrupt or in financial distress. Ride sharing services have decimated public transit. Interesting how every example from New York to Salt Lake City, is of a transit agency that is struggling to build or maintain an expensive rail system. If they didn’t have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on trains, they would have plenty of money to operate their buses and wouldn’t have to raise fares and cut service. They don’t call it light rail for it’s weight, they call it light rail because it’s capacity is low. Buses serve more destinations that rail can ever do. A highway mile can move 600 buses per hour, light rail can on average move about 20 trains per hour, depending on city block size. So buses can move more people per hour; Double decker or articulated buses even more than that. And mini-buses are half the size, can offer the same transit capacity at half the price, since on average transit buses are only 1/6th filled to capacity in small cities with less than 500,000 people they’re perfect. And micro-buses and paratransit vehicles can offer people essentially door to door transit service.

  • Evan D

    Highways get more transferred in than transferred out. If you’re going to block gas tax money from being used on anything other than cars and trucks, it’s only fair to block general fund money from being used for cars and trucks.

  • I have read it. Do you actually believe it makes a difference? All it would do is allow the use revenues previously received for infrastructure to pay into the pension system, with a new source created for roads. It’s a freaking shell game.

  • edsully

    We can’t all drive single occupant automobiles unless you want to be stuck in traffic forever. The more public transportation options the public has it will be that many fewer cars on our roads and freeways so that those people who have to drive, can get where they want to go faster.

  • edsully

    You might want to read the text of Proposition 69 which the voters passed on June 5th. It addresses what you commented about.

  • The gas tax does nothing more than allow other revenues to be diverted to pay pension debt, continue the accrual of that pension debt through increased pay and benefits and to avoid any real pension reform efforts. You may not like the messengers, but the gas tax should be repealed and fiscal restraints forced on the legislature.

  • sebra leaves

    The Bay Area just raised bridge tolls so MTC has the money to pay for road repairs if that is what they want to pay for. Voters might prefer to use the bridge tolls for roads instead of more expensive rail projects. Of course the MTC will use the funds the way it wants. More recalls may be coming as voters lose patience with politicians.

  • LazyReader

    AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    Like the democratic party never used incentives to get people to vote.

  • LazyReader

    I don’t care if they raise the gas tax, what matters is keep it where it lies. In the highway trust fund, Not paying for some boondoggle lightrail, heavy rail, subway, monorail shtick.

  • The real audience needs to be the members of the CA GOP who are planning campaigns around using the gas tax repeal as a means of motivating people to vote.

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