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NO on Caltrain tax

Original post made by Bill, Los Altos, on Apr 12, 2020

While everyone was preoccupied with the virus scare, I was horrified to read that Caltrain, the agency with an overpaid CEO, is proposing ANOTHER sales tax increase. Vote NO. Over the last several elections, voters in Santa Clara County have passed multiple tax and fee increases including gas taxes, two bridge toll increases, three VTA sales taxes, Santa Clara County’s Measure A 1/8 cent sales tax, the state prop 30 ¼ cent sales tax and the 2010 Measure B Vehicle Registration Fee of $10. Additionally, we’re on the hook to pay back numerous state bond issues including high speed rail, the Proposition 1 water bond and the infrastructure bonds of 2006.

It is time to reconsider transportation finance. The last thing we need right now is another bump in the sales tax. When the virus scare began, the congestion problem went away when companies began encouraging staff to work from home at least part of the time. Let's encourage more working at home when the virus scare is over. This tax would not be necessary if there were not as much demand.

We need to make sure this awful idea gets nipped in the bud. If you feel Caltrain must have more money despite increased working from home, please consider either diverting existing sales tax from the overpriced BART extension to San Jose (eliminate the Santa Clara portion) or raising taxes on the rich tech companies that are responsible for the congestion problem.

Comments (18)

22 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2020 at 4:19 pm

In the aftermath of the Corona Virus pandemic we are going to have to harden our society to infectious diseases. As bad as Corona Virus has been, the next one could be even worse.

To harden or society to assault from another pandemic we need to become LESS dependent on transportation systems that derive their efficiency from packing people together in poorly ventilated spaces.

The real cost of Caltrain is much more than the tolls, taxes, and fees we pay to subsidize the system.


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2020 at 5:54 pm

@Ahem: Of course, along with not riding Caltrain, you will not be eating at restaurants, riding escalators, going to concerts, churches, or any other large gatherings, right?


15 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 13, 2020 at 1:57 pm

We voted for a BART tax, expecting a BART train in our area. Preverbally on the 280 side of the city to line up with San Mateo and Santa Clara Bart and the west side of SU and the Veteran's location. No Bart is there. Gov Brown has sidelined important budget items for his high speed rail. There is no high speed rail. The Bart link in the Warm Springs area is behind schedule. Any tax you come with is to fill a bucket of incompetence and there is no end result in site.
I am reading a book now on the banana plantations in central America and they were putting down rail at a rapid speed. Seems like there is no residual knowledge on how to do that. We built a rail road across America - we should know how to do this.
Every tax we vote on gets distributed to some other location that does not serve our community or directly link us to the main systems. We are just an ATM card for other locations. I will vote no.


10 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2020 at 11:20 am

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> We voted for a BART tax, expecting a BART train in our area.

I don't want a BART train in my area. I like Caltrain much better. But, regarding sales taxes-- I think sales taxes are *dumb*. *Stupid*. *Idiotic*. But, since we keep voting sales taxes to subsidize auto transportation, we should also vote sales taxes to support public transportation.

Now, if you want to talk about abolishing sales tax altogether -- sure, let's talk.


20 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 15, 2020 at 9:56 am

"Now, if you want to talk about abolishing sales tax altogether -- sure, let's talk."

It would be nice to have that discussion. Sales tax is double taxation. It comes out of income already taxed. And all of the transportation problems we keep getting hit up to fund are attempts to fix problems caused by rich tech companies, which SVLG never advocates taxing.


9 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2020 at 11:28 am

Japan and Korea have packed public transportation, which doesn't seem to have been a major disease vector for coronavirus. On the other hand, they're homogeneous cultures, tend to wear masks, and may have better hygiene than certain of people on BART and Caltrain.

Passenger trains are probably going away in the long run in any event. Why would anyone pack into those miserable, loud, dirty sardine cans when a self-driving electric car can pick them up at their home and drop them off at their office?


6 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm

FF,

It may be a little premature to hold Japan up as a model of a country that has preformed well in the fight against the corona virus. Japan may be entering a delayed corona virus crisis and some are blaming Japans reliance on overcrowded rail transportation which make social distancing impossible and a work ethic that pressures people to go to work sick for the surge.

Japan's health ministry task force warned on Wednesday that Japan's death toll from the novel coronavirus could reach 420,000 if people do not reduce contact with each other and no preventive measures are taken to stem the contagion. Web Link

A New Zealander's perspective on what's happening in Japan right now (4/4/20)...
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 15, 2020 at 3:35 pm

Bart and Caltrain are not a either/or proposition. Once you get to San Mateo you have both Caltrain and Bart with their own tracks and rail lines. And destination points. If we have a Caltrain on the current rail line then we need a Bart line on the west side - Foothill Expressway. That would line us up with San Mateo and down the line south - Cupertino/Apple. The fact that it was originally presented as a replacement for Bart was a bad decision, bad idea and bad marketing for future funding. They are two separate rail lines, separate management groups, separate funding. They are not competing transportation lines. They are complimentary transportation lines. But I suspect that all of the people that live on the Foothill side of the city do not want any rail line in their neighborhood. That is where your problem is.


4 people like this
Posted by After they say work from home
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 15, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Right now there is no signal from companies that they will expand wfh or make it part of their standard. After they do that I would consider cutting taxes for transit, esp VTA but only once the ridership numbers have dropped, and certainly not before the large companies commit to that. Cutting transit then having the companies go back to the same as before would be irresponsible and ill-fated.

As a frequent ride I feel I've been getting my tax money's worth from CalTrain over the years, esp with expanded bike access.
I'll most likely vote for this tax, though not for most others.


14 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 15, 2020 at 4:37 pm

I think Resident 1-Adobe Meadows got the history garbled. Caltrain was never proposed as a replacement for BART, it was the other way around. One of the reasons for San Mateo county dropping out of BART in the early 1960s was the existece of the Southern Pacific commute service, today's Caltrain. I am not sure I understand the references to Foothill Exprssway, but it was once part of a rail line that went to Los Gatoss before the right of way was sold to the County for the expressway.

As for After they say work from home's comments, if the rich tech companies don't encourage work-from-home when this is over, then they need to pay more taxes to pay for the congestion they cause. Regular people are hurting from this virus scare and they don't need to pay more sales tax.


5 people like this
Posted by Mawris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Caltrain runs just fine with diesel motive power and has for several decades, but no, that's not good enough. How many millions is this Caltrain electrification costing, along with the new electric rolling stock? How to pay for it all? Why, a sales tax, of course!

BART technology was just so-so in the late 1960's but today it's a technological nightmare. You DON'T want BART up the peninsula, especially when you're pouring money into Caltrain.

Wait 'til they start hitting up Palo Altans for multimillions for grade separation. How to pay for that? A sales tax!


9 people like this
Posted by Mawris
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 15, 2020 at 5:46 pm

"if the rich tech companies don't encourage work-from-home when this is over, then they need to pay more taxes to pay for the congestion they cause."

True that. I've long felt that Google, et al. should build employee housing on their vast land holdings, much like a university provides dormitories for its students. Heck, if they can afford to lease Moffett Field as a parking place for their fleet of private jets, they can afford to build employee housing and get the dilapidated RV's off nearby streets. Employees could work from home, or they would be steps away from the office.


13 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 17, 2020 at 10:51 am

"Employees could work from home, or they would be steps away from the office."

It is quite amazing that that the grossly-misnamed Silicon Valley "Leadershipp" Group never suggests rich tech companies pay higher taxes to mitigate the congestion that they cause.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:11 pm

This is one good thread to recommend that others read. Thank you!!


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2020 at 11:05 am

If you look at BART going up to the city it can run on an elevated track. You could have an elevated track over Foothill Exp and it would provide a connection in addition to Caltrain. We should have both.


8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 19, 2020 at 11:52 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadowsj, where is the money to build BART up the Peninsula to compete with Caltrain? It would take billions of dollars that we do not have and decades of time. And the BART to SJ project tells us to expect cost overruns and project delays.

Caltrain's proposed 1/8th cent sales tax proposal is bad enough, let's not make it worse.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2020 at 12:05 pm

The last thing I want is for BART to take over peninsula commuter rail. BART made a serious error when it initially chose to develop its own technology back in the 1960's. Briefly, BART looked "advanced", but, because BART is incompatible with the rest of the industry, BART capital costs have remained very high, while the rest of the commuter rail world has continued to advance. BART is very dated at this point, and, its capital and operational costs are very high. Let's replace BART with modern commuter rail.


8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 19, 2020 at 1:04 pm

Anon: "Let's replace BART with modern commuter rail."

That's almost as bad as building BART extensions that duplicate Caltrain service (see San Jose-Santa Clara). We already have a BART system that basicakly works. There is no reason to replace it. How many billions do you think it would cost? It is important to spend existing transportatiuon dollars wisely, without more tax increases.


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