Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is BART the only thing that voters could ever pass?

In an unprecedented turnout, the yes vote for B barely crept pass 2/3 threshold with the provisional votes. It is unusual because Santa Clara County had a voter turnout of about 70% in 2000 and 2004, but increased by over 15% in just 4 years.

It is a temporary win for the downtown delusionals. As expected, they will say that voters only want BART but not other forms of mass transit, and that somehow VTA can pay for the whole project.

Is that really the case?

  • In Los Angeles, voters approved a 1/2 cent sales tax increase for transit by 67.31%.
  • In the North Bay, voters approved a 1/4 cent sales tax increase for rail by 69.5%.
  • In the East Bay, voters approved a parcel tax for AC Transit operation by 71.9%.
Voters should have easily passed a tax for transit if they actually have confidence in VTA. VTA now only had to rely on voters who don't know about VTA or the tax 8 years ago.

Regardless what the vote margin is, VTA is bound to break its "promise." VTA has not been telling voters how it could build the BART line, or even how much it would cost. In any case, the financial situation will only get tighter with declining state funding and sales tax revenue.

Given the results, it is unlikely for voters to approve a third tax for the same project in the next 8 years, if not longer. VTA will have no choice but to build a shorter line (which was never put on the table before by VTA until right after the election) with the funding it already has. At the end, it may not be a win for the downtown delusionals who want nothing but a subway.

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