There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Squeezing transit dry

And while Londoners party, Sacramento is being squeezed dry. Can't we get a break here?

According to Brian RT is letting people know that state cutbacks could force RT into additional service reductions. (Send those letters in now!)

But things could get worse. Sunday's Bee has an editorial about a Sacramento County Board of Supervisors suggestion that a quarter-cent sales tax be added to fund juvenile gang programs. And if that goes on the ballot, what do you suppose will happen to plans for an additional sales tax increment to pay for expanding transit?

Of course, the hope of funding RT's expansion plans with a sales tax increment isn't a sure thing in any event. On May 23, the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at California State University, Sacramento, released the The 2008 Sacramento State Annual Survey of the Region. Among the findings: "55 percent of residents in the region stated they would not vote to raise gas taxes by one cent on the dollar to fund public transportation."

As Dan Walters explains, the survey question was ambiguous: "The question could have been confusing since gasoline taxes are collected on gallonage of fuel, while sales taxes are applied to the value of the fuel. A one-cent per gallon increase in the former would raise about $150 million a year statewide while a one-cent increase in the sales tax on all taxable commodities would raise about $6 billion a year."

Regardless of the question's ambiguity, the sentiment is clear: People don't see a need to pay extra to improve transit.

What can be done to awaken people to the benefits of leaving your car at home -- or at the very least at a park-and-ride lot -- and taking transit? Cutting back existing services because the Evil Transitator thinks stealing transit money will be easier than stealing from someone else's kitty isn't going to make transit more attractive or win support for increasing taxes.


fpteditors said...

Carbon-auto agents in government are trying to do as much damage as they can in advance of anticipated voter push-back in November.

John said...

I'm not big on conspiracy theories, especially such grand schemes as nefarious carbon-auto agents. However, I do believe regime change in the United States in 2009 will go a long way toward moving the country in a direction that views transit as a complement to the greater transportation picture. With such a change of view, funding for transit will again be seen as an investment in the future of the whole community. I hope this change will put an end to the view that transit is only for losers.