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Original post made
on Mar 28, 2011
Here's a crazy idea for funding: charge market rate fares! Maybe the incentive to drive down costs and increase efficiencies will emerge.
No way your going to get more tax money to fund the lumbering dinosaurs rumbling up and down the valley floor.
The Silicon Valley has this for its transportation? Geez!
Charge market rate tolls for Highway 101, too. Why do tax payers have to subsidize that monstrosity? Most of the money to pay for highway construction and highway maintenance comes out of the general fund, not automobile taxes or gasoline taxes.
That's because the state legislature steals the money from the gas taxes on an annual basis.
Gas taxes were never intended to be used solely for highways. Dedicating funding streams to specific uses is one of the reasons our state budget is in such trouble now. 80% - 85% of the budget is allocated by formula and the legislators have no freedom to change that. They are left trying to balance the budget by making drastic cuts to the small part of the pie that is within their control.
Caltrain gets 40% of its revenue from it users, which is more than any local highway does. The funding problems are a domino effect of troubles at SamTrans, which has screwed Caltrain to save its own neck. The article above, although not very well-written, does state obliquely that the real solution for Caltrain under the current funding scenario is to help SamTrans.
> Why do tax payers have to subsidize that monstrosity?
Are you for real? Highway 101 and Highway 280 carry the bulk of the traffic N/S on the peninsula. Everything that we eat, the clothes that we wear, and access to most of the jobs that keep people living the good life are transported on these two highways.
Caltrain barely cares 18,000 individuals a day (on the weekdays), and less than half that number of the weekend. If Caltrain were to disappear tomorrow, it would not be missed.
> which is more than any local highway does.
Are you for real? The financial model, and the use model, are entirely different. Without our highways, the who area would go "poof" overnight.
America's highways carry 20x the headcount of its rail system. What part of that don't you understand?
If everyone uses 101/280, then charging market rates shouldn't hit them so hard should it? sounds like we could remove all taxpayer road subsidies and divide the costs of the roads among those who use them - and that includes vehicles which deliver goods.
Don't tell me we need to cut funding for rails but keep funding for roads, because then you're just using free-market arguments to get yourself a government hand-out. If you really believe in this free market stuff, then you should be willing to take your own medicine.
Or we can recognize that a robust transportation system - including commuter trains - is an essential public service and worth financing.
Want to do something fun? Change the date to 2020 and do a search and replace on Caltrain for High Speed Rail. What an "environmental way to blow $40B and stick the taxpayers for the over-runs.
If Caltrain shut down - it would be missed - both on the highways where the bulk of Caltrain rides would now be driving at rush hour but also on Palo Alto city streets as thousands of commuters who get on or off at Palo Alto would drive.
If you think it should close - take a morning or afternoon - during rush hour and go to the Palo Alto station (there's a nice Cafe there now) enjoy a Latte and watch the crowds getting on and off the trains. If there is no train these folks are going to drive - on our local streets - all at the same time.
Bart has a sales tax dedicated to it, highways get gas tax $$ but also bonds and general funds (gas taxes being only about 40% of the need).
Yes, highways carry more people than the train, and they also cost a lot more. And our highway funding system is broken even worse than the Caltrain funding system, but the effects are being hidden for the moment. At the state, county and city level preventive maintenance is being deferred, causing roads to deteriorate to the point where they will need to be completely repaved later at a much higher cost. When that bill comes due you will really her some squealing.
Same old tired arguments. Taxpayers have to pay for the train riders because they'll crowd 101/280.
Okay I'll pay market rates, train riders pay market rates and maybe it will put some sanity back into the system.
One regional public transit system. Get rid of the high speed rail boondoggle. Change the "train" into a people mover system.
Of course that won't happen because the voters are arguing about 101/280 vs caltrain subsidies or the tired argument of how many people will be on the road. The overpaid transit officials then can laugh all the way to the bank.
Hypothetically, if 101 and 280 were changed into toll roads to cover the costs, guess what, the traffic on Middlefield and El Camino as well as most other neighborhood streets, would be horrendous.
One of the design features of highways is to take traffic from local roads to enable local traffic to move efficiently.
One of the beauties of Caltrain is that it takes traffic from all local roads and also highways to enable local traffic and highway traffic to move efficiently.
We all pay for our highways and we should all be paying for our Caltrain system because we are all benefitting from both. Without Caltrain, like doing without a highway, every local street would feel the extra traffic. I would rather pay for regional transit in my gas tax than in extra traffic through my town.
If Caltrain goes away, there could be four more lanes of local roads, or bike lanes. Local traffic will be greatly improved. So, saying Caltrain benefits local traffic is just not ture.
For those not willing to pay for the high ways, try not to use them for a month, they tell us what do you think. Most people never used Caltrain, living without it won't be any problem at all.
My family doesn't typically use either 101 or 280 for more than a month at a time. We usually bike or take the train, although we occasionally use the car to pick up groceries around town. I can honestly say that if the commute service on Caltrain were to be cut my wife would probably quit her job in the city.
As for tolling 101 or 280 ... I thought they were thinking of tolling one or two lanes? That would probably ease some of the congestion problems and might even get more people to ride the train.
Caltrain= a bottomless pit of taxpayers money that benefits only a handful of freeloaders.
Eliminate Caltrain and its prehistoric technology, invest that money for building more highways, High Speed Train and an efficient interconnected Bay Area transportation System.
Never in my long life have ridden CALTRAIN. The true spirit of California is the freedom that the car provides you.
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