Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
- There are some people that we should not start a conversation with, even though it would appear impolite if we ignore them.
- There is no point in escalating the argument. Since no one will win or lose anything by winning or losing any argument, why don't we just shut up and get to where we need to go as quick as possible.
- We should never encourage others to fight. (some riders on this video tried to calm the riders down, whereas the riders on the Muni video encouraged the Chinese woman to fight).
Update: This is the video after both got off the bus.
It appears that both men involved in this fight have issues. If you look carefully, the writing on the back of the blue T-shirt the white man was wearing says "I am a motherfucker." What a conversation starter!
Friday, February 12, 2010
The main differences between the proposals are that the Democrats would hold on to the diesel tax. They also propose giving regional agencies like MTC the ability to put a regional gas tax on the ballot to help get money for transit. MTC has been asking for this authority for years and the legislature has always said no.
Giving MTC this authority might be a help. But it’s a risky funding strategy for transit because there is no guarantee that voters would approve a regional gas tax. It has rarely polled over 50% in the past, polling well only once when voters were told the money would fund initiatives to stop climate change. That was soon after Gore’s movie came out, and climate change is no longer a top concern of voters due to the recession and successful disinformation campaign by climate change deniers. Also, anti-tax groups are likely to sue.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Last year, VTA predicted it could keep the same level of transit service for the next 10 years. However, a month after approving that SRTP, VTA publicly admitted that it needs to raise fares and cut services. This time, the SRTP assumes new financial realities. Today, VTA uses more conservative scenarios in projecting future sales tax revenue growth (negative growth in sales taxes after adjusted for inflation). Nonetheless, VTA also assumes that somehow State Transit Assistance (which was removed for 5 years by the state legislature to balance the state budget) would come back next year, and that all federal eligible federal capital funds would be diverted fo operations (under the preventive maintenance category).
The current draft SRTP assumes that the reduced transit service will continue for the next 8 years. To handle the projected ridership on some bus routes, VTA would use more articulated buses. In 2013, VTA expects to operated enhanced 522 BRT service. the 523 BRT service on Stevens Creek would start in 2017.
Also included in the SRTP is the first year of BART operation to Berryessa. In 2008, VTA cheated the VTA Board and voters by presenting a financial scenario showing that the Measure B tax would fully fund the operating cost for BART extension. This SRTP however, shows the exact opposite. Starting in 2019, the first full year of operation, VTA is expected to pay $46.32 million to BART for operating subsidy and $10.09 million for capital reserve. On the other hand, VTA is expected to receive $37.34 million from the 1/8% sales tax. Although not shown in the SRTP spreadsheet, the capital reserve is expected to raise every year for the next 15 years.
Even though VTA plans to collect the 1/8 cent tax years before BART opening (thus not having to spend it), VTA would likely exhaust that surplus in less than 10 years after. If this scenario holds, VTA would eventually have to cut bus service or raise taxes to further subsidize the useless BART line. So much for "Measure A pays operating costs for BART, rail, and buses for decades without additional taxes." (Carl Guardino in the 2000 Measure A rebuttal)
In future years, financial projection will change depending on the economy, political leadership, and tax structure. Despite optimistic scenarios used in some years, transit riders were more affected during economic downturns than during economic booms. During good economic times, transit unions generally demand much of the new revenue to go toward their salaries and benefits instead of new services. When good times come to an end, agencies cut costs mostly by cutting service. While agencies including VTA try to cut labor costs, factors like pensions and healthcare seriously limit their options.