225 California transportation projects in trouble

By Gary Richards : contracostatimes – excerpt

Californians are paying less in gas taxes, and much less at the pump, as oil prices have plummeted. While that may pad drivers’ wallets, the result could be what officials are calling a “catastrophic” impact on the Golden State’s highways and city streets.

The combined loss in state transportation revenue — more than $1.1 billion — has put high-profile improvement projects at risk of being canceled or facing delays that could stretch for years.

About 225 shovel-ready transportation projects across the state are threatened this year, including the Interstate 680-Highway 4 widening near Antioch, the Willow Road-Highway 101 upgrade in Menlo Park and the planned Highway 1 widening in Santa Cruz…

Caltrain electrification hits funding snag: Sale of high-speed rail bonds delayed, could affect local improvements

…Caltrain CEO Jim Hartnett said the state and High-Speed Rail Authority are not on track on selling part of the nearly $10 billion in bonds this spring, which could have put $600 million in the hands of locals as early as July…

Big projects will be pushed back, but everybody is going to feel this, especially when the big potholes in front your house don’t get filled.”

Why is the state in this predicament?

Unlike past funding cuts, local agencies are being warned that some work will be canceled and not just delayed.

Soon there will be a pilot program to charge volunteer drivers by the number of miles they travel instead of taxing their gas purchases. But it could be years before it begins to raise significant dollars... (more)

How are they going to do this?

 

 

Measure seeks to raise revenue for Alameda County transportation improvements

By Sierra Stalcup : dailycal – excerpt

In November, voters will decide the outcome of Measure BB, which would increase the county sales tax by 0.5 percent in order to raise revenue for Alameda County transportation improvements.

If approved, Measure BB would secure the sales tax for 30 years with revenue allocated to transportation groups such as BART and AC Transit in order to modernize and improve transportation options within the county…

Jerry Cauthen, a transportation engineering consultant and volunteer for the Bay Area Transportation Working Group, said he does not support the measure because the plan fails to set concrete, reliable goals.

Community groups supporting the measure, however, emphasize the importance of improving and expanding access to public transportation in Alameda County…

“Berkeley used Measure B money for bicycle boulevards which provide a safe crossing to a busy street,” said Dave Campbell, program director of Bike East Bay. “Even a parent with a kid feels comfortable. If cyclists think it is safer, they are more likely to ride.”… (more)

This has a familiar ring to it. Could be because it is part of the Plan Bay Area.

Tax Credits for mass transit set to expire

By : huffingtonpost – excpert

With a little help from Congress, commuters relying on mass transit to get to work could lose a significant chunk of change next year.
Starting on Jan. 1, the federal commuter tax benefit will drop from $245 to $130 per month. According to a Friday Washington Post report, that could cost some regular users almost $1,000 in 2014.
While mass transit riders are facing reduced benefits, the same can’t be said for drivers. The Post noted that commuter parking tax benefits will rise from $245 to $250 per month.
“This is the biggest disparity between the two components of the commuter benefit that we have ever seen,” Natasha Rankin, executive director of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, told the paper. “For those who rely on mass transit, where you also have increasing costs, this is a double hit.”… (more)

Transit credits expire while local fares increase, and Muni plans to request an additional $3 billion in November. Voters may vote for a shift in priorities instead.

RELATED:
New Year Brings Bay Area Transit Fare Increases   
Bay Area Commuter Check Benefits To Be Slashed In 2014

Supe Proposes $1-3 Event Surcharge To Aid “overwhelmed and effectively defunct” Muni

by eve: sfappeal – excerpt

As a longtime N Judah rider, I know all too well that that transit line is next to impossible to ride in the period near the conclusion of a home Giants game.  And don’t get me started on trying to ride during Outside Lands.
So I have been very curious about how the transit agency might improve service to accommodate riders attending games at the new Warriors arena!
In an effort to get ahead of these problems, one SF Supervisor is proposing a $1-$3 surcharge for tickets at larger sports and entertainment events, with the money from that surcharge going to the SFMTA.
What do you think, is that a positive step towards managing Muni’s event issues?  Or is it spitting into the ocean (or the wind)?  Tell us what you think…  (more)

–Eve

This sounds like the congestion parking theory run amok. They got away with charging more for parking during “events”. Next will want to charge more for Muni riders during events. The just raised the fast pass fairs. Here is a better idea. Throw the MTA Board out and reset the policies.

AC Transit Director Faces Tough Fight

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor : Eastbayexpress.com – excerpt

Saying that the AC Transit board needs “progressive leadership,” Bartlett lists her three top issues as reducing emissions, improving labor protections, and increasing ridership. In her official ballot statement, she stated that “AC Transit is in crisis. Fares are up while service has declined. Aging buses contribute to poor air quality and some of the highest child asthma rates in the state.” She promises to “champion clean, renewable energy facilities and equipment that reduce pollution and global warming” and to “focus on data-driven budget solutions and improve effectiveness of transit service while respecting the rights of AC Transit workers.”
When asked in a phone interview how she could accomplish those goals in an era of budget problems for the transit district, Bartlett said she would focus on removing inefficiencies and soliciting additional funds from the Bay Area’s regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the federal Department of Transportation, and by “renegotiating the district’s debt terms with banks so that we can decrease the yearly debt-service payment.” Bartlett said that she was “not in favor of cutting bus service” as AC Transit has been doing for the past several years as a cost-savings measure, and only saw such actions as a “last resort.”… (more)

Contrast that method with the following idea

Daily Journal staff report – excerpt
Transit district explores tax Budget and service cuts, fare increases and even increasing ridership will not be enough to bridge the San Mateo County Transit District’s ongoing structural deficit so officials with the agency are exploring whether it should go straight to the voters to ask for additional support.
If a ballot measure is judged necessary, district staff is recommending a potential vote in 2014, the next general election, according to a staff report.
What form the tax or fee will take or whether it will be a three-county vote to support Caltrain has yet to be determined, since it has no dedicated funding source… (more)