Looking to Local, Regional, and National Transportation Goals

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There was an interesting note in the Davis Enterprise yesterday about the rising Capitol Corridor ridership. Ridership jumped by nearly 20% over this time last year. Truth is, iti’s the 10th consecutive year that ridership has increased.

Gas prices are only one factor in this equation, congested roadways and stressful commutes have played a role as well according to the article.

One of the huge keys to our future will be solving our transportation puzzle. There are some who believe that Americans will never give up their cards. They might be right. The real question is whether you can get them to drive less in cars that are more energy efficient. I voted for Proposition 1A this year in part because I believe if we had a reliable high speed rail system that could conveniently get us from point A to point B, we would ride the train.

One of the best public transit systems is in Washington DC where the Metro is a cheap, convenient, and safe way to travel within the city and into the suburbs. When I worked in DC over a decade ago, I did not own a car. I did not need a car. The few places the Metro did not take me, I could either take a bus or a cab–and this was rare.

I also lived in Pittsburg, California right next to Antioch one year and took classes in Berkeley twice a year. I would drive five miles in my car, park at the BART station, and take the train to Berkeley. It was quick, convenient, and I could always finish my reading on the train before I arrived for class.

When I took a summer seminar in Stanford one summer, I would come home on the weekends, and I used to take the Capitol Corridor to Emeryville, the Train Bus to San Francisco, and then the Cal-Train to Palo Alto.

Why do I share all of this? Because I believe that we can live in a world where we can take mass transit, and have it be cheap, fast, and convenient. I would love to see a system that efficiency and conveniently connects the Sacramento Light Rail service with BART and Cal-Train. I’d love to see a service of this sort that connects cities across the country, so that you can ride the rails to where you need to go in a quick, cheap, and convenient way.

Europe is way ahead of us in that respect. People will get off the highways and out of their cars if they have an alternative. Unfortunately we need to create that alternative. Our highways are old, antiquated and badly need of being redone. Obama is talking about a public works investment, but if we are going to invest more money and create jobs in upgrading our infrastructure–something we definitely need–we need a 21st century infrastructure plan.

Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of the modern interstate system which linked up the country via road. Obama needs to do the same but with alternative transportation.

As we look to the future, let us not merely rebuild the 1950s interstate system that has served us well. Let us make 2010s system of high-speed rails and alternative fuel vehicles that can get us into the next half-century, help us to reduce our reliance on oil, reduce greenhouse gases, reduce driving times, reduce congestion on the highway that leads to pollution and frustration. That is what we really need now.

As gas prices plummet, I have real mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s nice to fill up the car again for $20 or less. On the other hand, I hope it doesn’t take people’s eyes off the ball. Gas prices at $4 a gallon made alternative fueled and fuel efficient cars economically feasible. It put a priority on developing alternative transportation.

The collapse of the oil market runs parallel with the collapse of the economy, it is also temporary based largely on fallen demand worldwide rather than increased supply. As soon as the economy improves, the prices are headed right back where they were, if not higher. The fallen gas prices are a nice respite to ease the burden on our wallets, but they do not change the bigger picture.

It is interesting that on Saturday, I wrote an article on Obama, talking about the hopeful change in the partisan tone as the result of the new presidency. So far so good. But we still have tremendous challenges that we are facing. That is reality, not a lowered bar. The economic situation worldwide is far worse than many of us realized in September and October. The bailout that used $700 billion was not well-planned or administered. There is no functioning executive office right now in this country.

Unfortunately for the Obama administration, there are just some really severe problems that must be dealt with and they cannot wait. The economy is only one, we must restore our standing in the world after Bush drove it into the ground, we must focus on health care, we must focus on global warming, we must focus on transportation which is linked to both foreign policy and the environment, we must restore our moral standing by removing torture from our policies and closing down Guantanamo, we must restore our rights to privacy, we must restore our environmental laws and enforcement mechanisms. It is unbelievable how much damage one man in a one eight-year period has wrought. And people dare to challenge why I urge that we might not be able to do this in a short period of time–have you looked at the world lately and see how bad things are?

Fortunately, we do not have to wait for the federal government to act. I am hopeful that Prop 1A funding is put to good use, that our region, our state, and our local governments can look toward the issue of transportation, even in these economic times as a priority. We fight over trivial issues and then fail to deal with the real problems as they stare us in the face.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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68 thoughts on “Looking to Local, Regional, and National Transportation Goals”

  1. Don Shor

    “One of the best public transit systems is in Washington DC where the Metro is a cheap, convenient, and safe way to travel within the city and into the suburbs.”

    Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.

  2. Don Shor

    “One of the best public transit systems is in Washington DC where the Metro is a cheap, convenient, and safe way to travel within the city and into the suburbs.”

    Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.

  3. Don Shor

    “One of the best public transit systems is in Washington DC where the Metro is a cheap, convenient, and safe way to travel within the city and into the suburbs.”

    Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.

  4. Don Shor

    “One of the best public transit systems is in Washington DC where the Metro is a cheap, convenient, and safe way to travel within the city and into the suburbs.”

    Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.

  5. Bushs Fist

    “As gas prices plummet, I have real mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s nice to fill up the car again for $20 or less. On the other hand, I hope it doesn’t take people’s eyes off the ball. Gas prices at $4 a gallon made alternative fueled and fuel efficient cars economically feasible. It put a priority on developing alternative transportation.”

    Now there is where I agree with you. I hope that having an energy plan doesn’t get put in the attic because gas is coming down. I’m glad it is, but I know we need an energy plan of some kind or we’ll regret it in the long run.

    We all know that the gas prices coming down won’t last indefinitely.

  6. Bushs Fist

    “As gas prices plummet, I have real mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s nice to fill up the car again for $20 or less. On the other hand, I hope it doesn’t take people’s eyes off the ball. Gas prices at $4 a gallon made alternative fueled and fuel efficient cars economically feasible. It put a priority on developing alternative transportation.”

    Now there is where I agree with you. I hope that having an energy plan doesn’t get put in the attic because gas is coming down. I’m glad it is, but I know we need an energy plan of some kind or we’ll regret it in the long run.

    We all know that the gas prices coming down won’t last indefinitely.

  7. Bushs Fist

    “As gas prices plummet, I have real mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s nice to fill up the car again for $20 or less. On the other hand, I hope it doesn’t take people’s eyes off the ball. Gas prices at $4 a gallon made alternative fueled and fuel efficient cars economically feasible. It put a priority on developing alternative transportation.”

    Now there is where I agree with you. I hope that having an energy plan doesn’t get put in the attic because gas is coming down. I’m glad it is, but I know we need an energy plan of some kind or we’ll regret it in the long run.

    We all know that the gas prices coming down won’t last indefinitely.

  8. Bushs Fist

    “As gas prices plummet, I have real mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s nice to fill up the car again for $20 or less. On the other hand, I hope it doesn’t take people’s eyes off the ball. Gas prices at $4 a gallon made alternative fueled and fuel efficient cars economically feasible. It put a priority on developing alternative transportation.”

    Now there is where I agree with you. I hope that having an energy plan doesn’t get put in the attic because gas is coming down. I’m glad it is, but I know we need an energy plan of some kind or we’ll regret it in the long run.

    We all know that the gas prices coming down won’t last indefinitely.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    “There are some who believe that Americans will never give up their cards.”

    Poker is unbelievably popular. Yes, I would have to agree Americans will never give up their cards.

    “The real question is whether you can get them to drive less in cars that are more energy efficient.”

    Easily. Give people an incentive. Higher fuel costs — whether the result of supply and demand or taxes — will move some; and subsidies for the purchase of high MPG vehicles will move others. To subsidize the purchase of high MPG cars, we could place a tax on the purchase of vehicles, by class, which don’t achieve high fuel standards. (The absolutely worst idea, loved by lefty environmentalists, is to impose CAFE standards on automakers. Consumer choice works much better.)

    “I voted for Proposition 1A this year in part because I believe if we had a reliable high speed rail system that could conveniently get us from point A to point B, we would ride the train.”

    The state is $30 billion in debt; funding for our schools, courts, parks, universities and so on is being reduced; it’s possible we will fail to make the interest payments on our outstanding debts; and Californians voted to put our state another $10 billion in the hole to pay for train service we cannot afford.

    “People will get off the highways and out of their cars if they have an alternative.”

    Instead of financing train service with bonds we absolutely cannot afford, there is a sensible alternative. Make all of our major highways and freeways toll roads. (We don’t have to have toll booths. In modern countries, the fees are imposed with scanner technology, just like when you buy food in a supermarket.)

    The tolls should be high when demand is high (at morning and afternoon rush hour) and low when demand is low. You pay based on the number of miles you drive at the rate charged per mile at the time you entered.

    By imposing tolls, we could eliminate all traffic jams, save those caused by accidents. The millions of dollars collected in tolls would then be used to pay for highway and freeway maintenance and upgrades and to subsidize bus and train service. If it cost a commuter a lot of money to drive to work at the rush hour, he could switch to the cheaper public transit, or alter his work hours when it was cheaper, or eventually move to live closer to where he works or take a job closer to where he lives. High income commuters would continue to drive at the high cost times, and they would subsidize the transit of everyone else.

  10. Rich Rifkin

    “There are some who believe that Americans will never give up their cards.”

    Poker is unbelievably popular. Yes, I would have to agree Americans will never give up their cards.

    “The real question is whether you can get them to drive less in cars that are more energy efficient.”

    Easily. Give people an incentive. Higher fuel costs — whether the result of supply and demand or taxes — will move some; and subsidies for the purchase of high MPG vehicles will move others. To subsidize the purchase of high MPG cars, we could place a tax on the purchase of vehicles, by class, which don’t achieve high fuel standards. (The absolutely worst idea, loved by lefty environmentalists, is to impose CAFE standards on automakers. Consumer choice works much better.)

    “I voted for Proposition 1A this year in part because I believe if we had a reliable high speed rail system that could conveniently get us from point A to point B, we would ride the train.”

    The state is $30 billion in debt; funding for our schools, courts, parks, universities and so on is being reduced; it’s possible we will fail to make the interest payments on our outstanding debts; and Californians voted to put our state another $10 billion in the hole to pay for train service we cannot afford.

    “People will get off the highways and out of their cars if they have an alternative.”

    Instead of financing train service with bonds we absolutely cannot afford, there is a sensible alternative. Make all of our major highways and freeways toll roads. (We don’t have to have toll booths. In modern countries, the fees are imposed with scanner technology, just like when you buy food in a supermarket.)

    The tolls should be high when demand is high (at morning and afternoon rush hour) and low when demand is low. You pay based on the number of miles you drive at the rate charged per mile at the time you entered.

    By imposing tolls, we could eliminate all traffic jams, save those caused by accidents. The millions of dollars collected in tolls would then be used to pay for highway and freeway maintenance and upgrades and to subsidize bus and train service. If it cost a commuter a lot of money to drive to work at the rush hour, he could switch to the cheaper public transit, or alter his work hours when it was cheaper, or eventually move to live closer to where he works or take a job closer to where he lives. High income commuters would continue to drive at the high cost times, and they would subsidize the transit of everyone else.

  11. Rich Rifkin

    “There are some who believe that Americans will never give up their cards.”

    Poker is unbelievably popular. Yes, I would have to agree Americans will never give up their cards.

    “The real question is whether you can get them to drive less in cars that are more energy efficient.”

    Easily. Give people an incentive. Higher fuel costs — whether the result of supply and demand or taxes — will move some; and subsidies for the purchase of high MPG vehicles will move others. To subsidize the purchase of high MPG cars, we could place a tax on the purchase of vehicles, by class, which don’t achieve high fuel standards. (The absolutely worst idea, loved by lefty environmentalists, is to impose CAFE standards on automakers. Consumer choice works much better.)

    “I voted for Proposition 1A this year in part because I believe if we had a reliable high speed rail system that could conveniently get us from point A to point B, we would ride the train.”

    The state is $30 billion in debt; funding for our schools, courts, parks, universities and so on is being reduced; it’s possible we will fail to make the interest payments on our outstanding debts; and Californians voted to put our state another $10 billion in the hole to pay for train service we cannot afford.

    “People will get off the highways and out of their cars if they have an alternative.”

    Instead of financing train service with bonds we absolutely cannot afford, there is a sensible alternative. Make all of our major highways and freeways toll roads. (We don’t have to have toll booths. In modern countries, the fees are imposed with scanner technology, just like when you buy food in a supermarket.)

    The tolls should be high when demand is high (at morning and afternoon rush hour) and low when demand is low. You pay based on the number of miles you drive at the rate charged per mile at the time you entered.

    By imposing tolls, we could eliminate all traffic jams, save those caused by accidents. The millions of dollars collected in tolls would then be used to pay for highway and freeway maintenance and upgrades and to subsidize bus and train service. If it cost a commuter a lot of money to drive to work at the rush hour, he could switch to the cheaper public transit, or alter his work hours when it was cheaper, or eventually move to live closer to where he works or take a job closer to where he lives. High income commuters would continue to drive at the high cost times, and they would subsidize the transit of everyone else.

  12. Rich Rifkin

    “There are some who believe that Americans will never give up their cards.”

    Poker is unbelievably popular. Yes, I would have to agree Americans will never give up their cards.

    “The real question is whether you can get them to drive less in cars that are more energy efficient.”

    Easily. Give people an incentive. Higher fuel costs — whether the result of supply and demand or taxes — will move some; and subsidies for the purchase of high MPG vehicles will move others. To subsidize the purchase of high MPG cars, we could place a tax on the purchase of vehicles, by class, which don’t achieve high fuel standards. (The absolutely worst idea, loved by lefty environmentalists, is to impose CAFE standards on automakers. Consumer choice works much better.)

    “I voted for Proposition 1A this year in part because I believe if we had a reliable high speed rail system that could conveniently get us from point A to point B, we would ride the train.”

    The state is $30 billion in debt; funding for our schools, courts, parks, universities and so on is being reduced; it’s possible we will fail to make the interest payments on our outstanding debts; and Californians voted to put our state another $10 billion in the hole to pay for train service we cannot afford.

    “People will get off the highways and out of their cars if they have an alternative.”

    Instead of financing train service with bonds we absolutely cannot afford, there is a sensible alternative. Make all of our major highways and freeways toll roads. (We don’t have to have toll booths. In modern countries, the fees are imposed with scanner technology, just like when you buy food in a supermarket.)

    The tolls should be high when demand is high (at morning and afternoon rush hour) and low when demand is low. You pay based on the number of miles you drive at the rate charged per mile at the time you entered.

    By imposing tolls, we could eliminate all traffic jams, save those caused by accidents. The millions of dollars collected in tolls would then be used to pay for highway and freeway maintenance and upgrades and to subsidize bus and train service. If it cost a commuter a lot of money to drive to work at the rush hour, he could switch to the cheaper public transit, or alter his work hours when it was cheaper, or eventually move to live closer to where he works or take a job closer to where he lives. High income commuters would continue to drive at the high cost times, and they would subsidize the transit of everyone else.

  13. Rich Rifkin

    “Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of the modern interstate system which linked up the country via road.”

    I guess winning the war in Europe didn’t impress you?

    “As soon as the economy improves, the prices are headed right back where they were, if not higher.”

    Maybe, maybe not. No doubt oil prices will rise when demand recovers. However, most economists believed that when prices were $140 per barrel, that was itself a speculative bubble. Had the world financial crisis not hit, the market price should have been closer to $90-$100/bbl.

    “I am hopeful that Prop 1A funding is put to good use.”

    A good follow-up, over the next 10 years, will be to see just where the Prop 1A monies go. I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants. I would also not be surprised that of the rest, our lawmakers decide to give the contracts to builders who themselves will make hefty profits and will pay construction workers far more than those same workers would make if they were working on a privately constructed rail or road system. As such, we the taxpayers will get a $3 billion train service and we will pay $10 billion for it.

  14. Rich Rifkin

    “Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of the modern interstate system which linked up the country via road.”

    I guess winning the war in Europe didn’t impress you?

    “As soon as the economy improves, the prices are headed right back where they were, if not higher.”

    Maybe, maybe not. No doubt oil prices will rise when demand recovers. However, most economists believed that when prices were $140 per barrel, that was itself a speculative bubble. Had the world financial crisis not hit, the market price should have been closer to $90-$100/bbl.

    “I am hopeful that Prop 1A funding is put to good use.”

    A good follow-up, over the next 10 years, will be to see just where the Prop 1A monies go. I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants. I would also not be surprised that of the rest, our lawmakers decide to give the contracts to builders who themselves will make hefty profits and will pay construction workers far more than those same workers would make if they were working on a privately constructed rail or road system. As such, we the taxpayers will get a $3 billion train service and we will pay $10 billion for it.

  15. Rich Rifkin

    “Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of the modern interstate system which linked up the country via road.”

    I guess winning the war in Europe didn’t impress you?

    “As soon as the economy improves, the prices are headed right back where they were, if not higher.”

    Maybe, maybe not. No doubt oil prices will rise when demand recovers. However, most economists believed that when prices were $140 per barrel, that was itself a speculative bubble. Had the world financial crisis not hit, the market price should have been closer to $90-$100/bbl.

    “I am hopeful that Prop 1A funding is put to good use.”

    A good follow-up, over the next 10 years, will be to see just where the Prop 1A monies go. I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants. I would also not be surprised that of the rest, our lawmakers decide to give the contracts to builders who themselves will make hefty profits and will pay construction workers far more than those same workers would make if they were working on a privately constructed rail or road system. As such, we the taxpayers will get a $3 billion train service and we will pay $10 billion for it.

  16. Rich Rifkin

    “Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of the modern interstate system which linked up the country via road.”

    I guess winning the war in Europe didn’t impress you?

    “As soon as the economy improves, the prices are headed right back where they were, if not higher.”

    Maybe, maybe not. No doubt oil prices will rise when demand recovers. However, most economists believed that when prices were $140 per barrel, that was itself a speculative bubble. Had the world financial crisis not hit, the market price should have been closer to $90-$100/bbl.

    “I am hopeful that Prop 1A funding is put to good use.”

    A good follow-up, over the next 10 years, will be to see just where the Prop 1A monies go. I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants. I would also not be surprised that of the rest, our lawmakers decide to give the contracts to builders who themselves will make hefty profits and will pay construction workers far more than those same workers would make if they were working on a privately constructed rail or road system. As such, we the taxpayers will get a $3 billion train service and we will pay $10 billion for it.

  17. Sue Greenwald

    Hi David,

    You had the cannery site developers on your radio show promoting their development, and you posted a promise that you would afford me equal time to make the case that the land should remain zoned high-tech oriented business park, but you have not yet contacted me.

    The council decision is December 2.

    Thanks,
    Sue

  18. Sue Greenwald

    Hi David,

    You had the cannery site developers on your radio show promoting their development, and you posted a promise that you would afford me equal time to make the case that the land should remain zoned high-tech oriented business park, but you have not yet contacted me.

    The council decision is December 2.

    Thanks,
    Sue

  19. Sue Greenwald

    Hi David,

    You had the cannery site developers on your radio show promoting their development, and you posted a promise that you would afford me equal time to make the case that the land should remain zoned high-tech oriented business park, but you have not yet contacted me.

    The council decision is December 2.

    Thanks,
    Sue

  20. Sue Greenwald

    Hi David,

    You had the cannery site developers on your radio show promoting their development, and you posted a promise that you would afford me equal time to make the case that the land should remain zoned high-tech oriented business park, but you have not yet contacted me.

    The council decision is December 2.

    Thanks,
    Sue

  21. PRED Old Timer

    ‘The economic situation worldwide is far worse than many of us realized in September and October.’

    Actually, these were quite a few who knew exactly how bad things were years ago and tried to warn people. The problem is no one listened.

    At least I’m holding cash with no debt or assets to devalue. That way I can help support all my friends and family when it comes down to it (and it will).

  22. PRED Old Timer

    ‘The economic situation worldwide is far worse than many of us realized in September and October.’

    Actually, these were quite a few who knew exactly how bad things were years ago and tried to warn people. The problem is no one listened.

    At least I’m holding cash with no debt or assets to devalue. That way I can help support all my friends and family when it comes down to it (and it will).

  23. PRED Old Timer

    ‘The economic situation worldwide is far worse than many of us realized in September and October.’

    Actually, these were quite a few who knew exactly how bad things were years ago and tried to warn people. The problem is no one listened.

    At least I’m holding cash with no debt or assets to devalue. That way I can help support all my friends and family when it comes down to it (and it will).

  24. PRED Old Timer

    ‘The economic situation worldwide is far worse than many of us realized in September and October.’

    Actually, these were quite a few who knew exactly how bad things were years ago and tried to warn people. The problem is no one listened.

    At least I’m holding cash with no debt or assets to devalue. That way I can help support all my friends and family when it comes down to it (and it will).

  25. Sue Greenwald

    Just like the council majority INSISTING that our city budget was in good shape when it wasn’t. But that was the line during the city council campaign.

  26. Sue Greenwald

    Just like the council majority INSISTING that our city budget was in good shape when it wasn’t. But that was the line during the city council campaign.

  27. Sue Greenwald

    Just like the council majority INSISTING that our city budget was in good shape when it wasn’t. But that was the line during the city council campaign.

  28. Sue Greenwald

    Just like the council majority INSISTING that our city budget was in good shape when it wasn’t. But that was the line during the city council campaign.

  29. Jonathan

    “I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants.”

    Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way. That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.

    Environmental impact and planning reports are going to eat up much of the rest of the $9 billion. ($1 billion in Prop 1A is not for high speed trains.)

    An odd facet of 1A is that “bond funds may be used to provide only up to one-half of the total cost of construction of each corridor or segment of a corridor. The measure requires the authority to seek private and other public funds to cover the remaining costs.”

    Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it. The other public funds, I guess, will be federal earmarks.

  30. Jonathan

    “I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants.”

    Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way. That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.

    Environmental impact and planning reports are going to eat up much of the rest of the $9 billion. ($1 billion in Prop 1A is not for high speed trains.)

    An odd facet of 1A is that “bond funds may be used to provide only up to one-half of the total cost of construction of each corridor or segment of a corridor. The measure requires the authority to seek private and other public funds to cover the remaining costs.”

    Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it. The other public funds, I guess, will be federal earmarks.

  31. Jonathan

    “I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants.”

    Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way. That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.

    Environmental impact and planning reports are going to eat up much of the rest of the $9 billion. ($1 billion in Prop 1A is not for high speed trains.)

    An odd facet of 1A is that “bond funds may be used to provide only up to one-half of the total cost of construction of each corridor or segment of a corridor. The measure requires the authority to seek private and other public funds to cover the remaining costs.”

    Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it. The other public funds, I guess, will be federal earmarks.

  32. Jonathan

    “I would not be surprised to find that 30-50% of the money goes to lawyers, consultants and accountants.”

    Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way. That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.

    Environmental impact and planning reports are going to eat up much of the rest of the $9 billion. ($1 billion in Prop 1A is not for high speed trains.)

    An odd facet of 1A is that “bond funds may be used to provide only up to one-half of the total cost of construction of each corridor or segment of a corridor. The measure requires the authority to seek private and other public funds to cover the remaining costs.”

    Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it. The other public funds, I guess, will be federal earmarks.

  33. Anonymous

    “Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way.”

    This is not a bad thing. Did you think property owners were going to give the land away for free? Right of Way is expensive in California.

    “That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.”

    This is also not a bad thing. Developers deserve a profit on their product. Higher intensity land use around a rail stop is a better use of land than lower
    intensity sprawl over farmland.

    “Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it.”

    If you were to quantify the unpaid costs of carbon dioxide, tailpipe emissions, and other externalities, cars wouldn’t look so good either. Take all the costs predicted by global climate change, divide by a third, and then divide by the number of cars and apply that fee to each car. Now do the same for the proportional health impacts associated with poor air quality attributed to cars. I assure you it improves the equation quite a bit for rail.

  34. Anonymous

    “Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way.”

    This is not a bad thing. Did you think property owners were going to give the land away for free? Right of Way is expensive in California.

    “That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.”

    This is also not a bad thing. Developers deserve a profit on their product. Higher intensity land use around a rail stop is a better use of land than lower
    intensity sprawl over farmland.

    “Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it.”

    If you were to quantify the unpaid costs of carbon dioxide, tailpipe emissions, and other externalities, cars wouldn’t look so good either. Take all the costs predicted by global climate change, divide by a third, and then divide by the number of cars and apply that fee to each car. Now do the same for the proportional health impacts associated with poor air quality attributed to cars. I assure you it improves the equation quite a bit for rail.

  35. Anonymous

    “Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way.”

    This is not a bad thing. Did you think property owners were going to give the land away for free? Right of Way is expensive in California.

    “That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.”

    This is also not a bad thing. Developers deserve a profit on their product. Higher intensity land use around a rail stop is a better use of land than lower
    intensity sprawl over farmland.

    “Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it.”

    If you were to quantify the unpaid costs of carbon dioxide, tailpipe emissions, and other externalities, cars wouldn’t look so good either. Take all the costs predicted by global climate change, divide by a third, and then divide by the number of cars and apply that fee to each car. Now do the same for the proportional health impacts associated with poor air quality attributed to cars. I assure you it improves the equation quite a bit for rail.

  36. Anonymous

    “Prop 1A will be even worse than Rich says. More than half of the public money will go to purchasing rights of way.”

    This is not a bad thing. Did you think property owners were going to give the land away for free? Right of Way is expensive in California.

    “That will go into the pockets of wealthy developers who own the land. The train stations will then spur more development on rural farm land, because it will become accessible.”

    This is also not a bad thing. Developers deserve a profit on their product. Higher intensity land use around a rail stop is a better use of land than lower
    intensity sprawl over farmland.

    “Because the high speed train will be a money loser, I don’t know why any private funds will be invested in it.”

    If you were to quantify the unpaid costs of carbon dioxide, tailpipe emissions, and other externalities, cars wouldn’t look so good either. Take all the costs predicted by global climate change, divide by a third, and then divide by the number of cars and apply that fee to each car. Now do the same for the proportional health impacts associated with poor air quality attributed to cars. I assure you it improves the equation quite a bit for rail.

  37. Another View

    I’d like to make the following points:
    1) Rail systems are efficient in Europe bc countries are small and the rail system does not have to cover the distance it does in our great big country.
    2) I’ve ridden in the Washington D.C. Metro, and it has its problems. Rats, kids run amok when school is out, heavy ridership, problems when it snows. I was almost crushed inside a metro car when it snowed and not all the cars were running. Also almost was stranded downtown when it snowed – had to hike several miles in snowstorm to catch a car at another far away station bc nearby one was closed down. Subways are not a bed of roses.
    3) The rail system between Washington D.C. and NYC has been an absolute disaster economically – not enough ridership to pay the costs. Heavily, heavily gov’t subsidized as a result. There has been much contemplation whether to shut it down as too costly.
    4) I’m all for developing alternative fuel cars. It is a great idea who day has long since come.
    5) Yes, let us not take our eye off developing an overall good energy policy, which both parties have ignored since 1976, when we had gas lines. Both parties are failing on this point.
    6) “Global warming” has become a multi-billion dollar business. We need to make sure that whatever we develop is economically feasible, sound policy, and not just a fad of the day that is politically correct.
    7) If Bush didn’t do anything else, he encouraged the development of democracy abroad. No matter how you feel about the War in Iraq, spreading democracy is a good thing, even if an unintended by-product of a naive foreign policy. Purple fingers of defiance in the face of terrorism was heartening by anyone’s standards.
    8) Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor. Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing. If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.

  38. Another View

    I’d like to make the following points:
    1) Rail systems are efficient in Europe bc countries are small and the rail system does not have to cover the distance it does in our great big country.
    2) I’ve ridden in the Washington D.C. Metro, and it has its problems. Rats, kids run amok when school is out, heavy ridership, problems when it snows. I was almost crushed inside a metro car when it snowed and not all the cars were running. Also almost was stranded downtown when it snowed – had to hike several miles in snowstorm to catch a car at another far away station bc nearby one was closed down. Subways are not a bed of roses.
    3) The rail system between Washington D.C. and NYC has been an absolute disaster economically – not enough ridership to pay the costs. Heavily, heavily gov’t subsidized as a result. There has been much contemplation whether to shut it down as too costly.
    4) I’m all for developing alternative fuel cars. It is a great idea who day has long since come.
    5) Yes, let us not take our eye off developing an overall good energy policy, which both parties have ignored since 1976, when we had gas lines. Both parties are failing on this point.
    6) “Global warming” has become a multi-billion dollar business. We need to make sure that whatever we develop is economically feasible, sound policy, and not just a fad of the day that is politically correct.
    7) If Bush didn’t do anything else, he encouraged the development of democracy abroad. No matter how you feel about the War in Iraq, spreading democracy is a good thing, even if an unintended by-product of a naive foreign policy. Purple fingers of defiance in the face of terrorism was heartening by anyone’s standards.
    8) Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor. Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing. If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.

  39. Another View

    I’d like to make the following points:
    1) Rail systems are efficient in Europe bc countries are small and the rail system does not have to cover the distance it does in our great big country.
    2) I’ve ridden in the Washington D.C. Metro, and it has its problems. Rats, kids run amok when school is out, heavy ridership, problems when it snows. I was almost crushed inside a metro car when it snowed and not all the cars were running. Also almost was stranded downtown when it snowed – had to hike several miles in snowstorm to catch a car at another far away station bc nearby one was closed down. Subways are not a bed of roses.
    3) The rail system between Washington D.C. and NYC has been an absolute disaster economically – not enough ridership to pay the costs. Heavily, heavily gov’t subsidized as a result. There has been much contemplation whether to shut it down as too costly.
    4) I’m all for developing alternative fuel cars. It is a great idea who day has long since come.
    5) Yes, let us not take our eye off developing an overall good energy policy, which both parties have ignored since 1976, when we had gas lines. Both parties are failing on this point.
    6) “Global warming” has become a multi-billion dollar business. We need to make sure that whatever we develop is economically feasible, sound policy, and not just a fad of the day that is politically correct.
    7) If Bush didn’t do anything else, he encouraged the development of democracy abroad. No matter how you feel about the War in Iraq, spreading democracy is a good thing, even if an unintended by-product of a naive foreign policy. Purple fingers of defiance in the face of terrorism was heartening by anyone’s standards.
    8) Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor. Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing. If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.

  40. Another View

    I’d like to make the following points:
    1) Rail systems are efficient in Europe bc countries are small and the rail system does not have to cover the distance it does in our great big country.
    2) I’ve ridden in the Washington D.C. Metro, and it has its problems. Rats, kids run amok when school is out, heavy ridership, problems when it snows. I was almost crushed inside a metro car when it snowed and not all the cars were running. Also almost was stranded downtown when it snowed – had to hike several miles in snowstorm to catch a car at another far away station bc nearby one was closed down. Subways are not a bed of roses.
    3) The rail system between Washington D.C. and NYC has been an absolute disaster economically – not enough ridership to pay the costs. Heavily, heavily gov’t subsidized as a result. There has been much contemplation whether to shut it down as too costly.
    4) I’m all for developing alternative fuel cars. It is a great idea who day has long since come.
    5) Yes, let us not take our eye off developing an overall good energy policy, which both parties have ignored since 1976, when we had gas lines. Both parties are failing on this point.
    6) “Global warming” has become a multi-billion dollar business. We need to make sure that whatever we develop is economically feasible, sound policy, and not just a fad of the day that is politically correct.
    7) If Bush didn’t do anything else, he encouraged the development of democracy abroad. No matter how you feel about the War in Iraq, spreading democracy is a good thing, even if an unintended by-product of a naive foreign policy. Purple fingers of defiance in the face of terrorism was heartening by anyone’s standards.
    8) Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor. Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing. If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.

  41. Anonymous

    Another View….

    Nearly every transit system in the US operates with subsidies. If you’re concerned about the regressive nature of toll roads, then you shouldn’t be complaining about transit being subsidized. I don’t hear you complaining about 25 billion going to GM, Ford, and Chrysler, nor the countless bailouts that have been given to “profitable” airlines.

    Others don’t also seem to care about sales taxes going to pay for transportation, the bulk of which goes to automobile infrastructure. The subsidies never end.

    We may not get there with alternative fuel vehicles given the energy intensity of our national transportation system.

    Toll roads and/or replacing the fuel tax with VMT fees are actually a more equitable infrastructure financing arrangement.

  42. Anonymous

    Another View….

    Nearly every transit system in the US operates with subsidies. If you’re concerned about the regressive nature of toll roads, then you shouldn’t be complaining about transit being subsidized. I don’t hear you complaining about 25 billion going to GM, Ford, and Chrysler, nor the countless bailouts that have been given to “profitable” airlines.

    Others don’t also seem to care about sales taxes going to pay for transportation, the bulk of which goes to automobile infrastructure. The subsidies never end.

    We may not get there with alternative fuel vehicles given the energy intensity of our national transportation system.

    Toll roads and/or replacing the fuel tax with VMT fees are actually a more equitable infrastructure financing arrangement.

  43. Anonymous

    Another View….

    Nearly every transit system in the US operates with subsidies. If you’re concerned about the regressive nature of toll roads, then you shouldn’t be complaining about transit being subsidized. I don’t hear you complaining about 25 billion going to GM, Ford, and Chrysler, nor the countless bailouts that have been given to “profitable” airlines.

    Others don’t also seem to care about sales taxes going to pay for transportation, the bulk of which goes to automobile infrastructure. The subsidies never end.

    We may not get there with alternative fuel vehicles given the energy intensity of our national transportation system.

    Toll roads and/or replacing the fuel tax with VMT fees are actually a more equitable infrastructure financing arrangement.

  44. Anonymous

    Another View….

    Nearly every transit system in the US operates with subsidies. If you’re concerned about the regressive nature of toll roads, then you shouldn’t be complaining about transit being subsidized. I don’t hear you complaining about 25 billion going to GM, Ford, and Chrysler, nor the countless bailouts that have been given to “profitable” airlines.

    Others don’t also seem to care about sales taxes going to pay for transportation, the bulk of which goes to automobile infrastructure. The subsidies never end.

    We may not get there with alternative fuel vehicles given the energy intensity of our national transportation system.

    Toll roads and/or replacing the fuel tax with VMT fees are actually a more equitable infrastructure financing arrangement.

  45. Rich Rifkin

    “Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor.”

    In a sense, you’e right. It makes the freeways, at rush hour, less affordable to low income drivers, particularly those who commute long distances by themselves. But that is not all bad.

    The idea is to give the poor and middle income a better option than they have now, by making public transit (paticularly intercity buses and vans) cheaper, more available and mostly paid for by the wealthy and upper-middle income who would pay the tolls.

    That’s how it works in the City of London and in Hong Kong. They have eliminated traffic jams which formerly constipated their roads.

    Congestion not only causes terrible effluent problems, it’s also a negative for the economy. The poor and everyone else thus benefits from efficient levies, regressive though they may be.

    “Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing.”

    We have toll roads all over the place — bridge districts and turnpikes, for example. I can’t imagine them being illegal. They have nothing to do with interstate commerce.

    If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.”

    I’ll let him know, sir.

  46. Rich Rifkin

    “Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor.”

    In a sense, you’e right. It makes the freeways, at rush hour, less affordable to low income drivers, particularly those who commute long distances by themselves. But that is not all bad.

    The idea is to give the poor and middle income a better option than they have now, by making public transit (paticularly intercity buses and vans) cheaper, more available and mostly paid for by the wealthy and upper-middle income who would pay the tolls.

    That’s how it works in the City of London and in Hong Kong. They have eliminated traffic jams which formerly constipated their roads.

    Congestion not only causes terrible effluent problems, it’s also a negative for the economy. The poor and everyone else thus benefits from efficient levies, regressive though they may be.

    “Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing.”

    We have toll roads all over the place — bridge districts and turnpikes, for example. I can’t imagine them being illegal. They have nothing to do with interstate commerce.

    If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.”

    I’ll let him know, sir.

  47. Rich Rifkin

    “Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor.”

    In a sense, you’e right. It makes the freeways, at rush hour, less affordable to low income drivers, particularly those who commute long distances by themselves. But that is not all bad.

    The idea is to give the poor and middle income a better option than they have now, by making public transit (paticularly intercity buses and vans) cheaper, more available and mostly paid for by the wealthy and upper-middle income who would pay the tolls.

    That’s how it works in the City of London and in Hong Kong. They have eliminated traffic jams which formerly constipated their roads.

    Congestion not only causes terrible effluent problems, it’s also a negative for the economy. The poor and everyone else thus benefits from efficient levies, regressive though they may be.

    “Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing.”

    We have toll roads all over the place — bridge districts and turnpikes, for example. I can’t imagine them being illegal. They have nothing to do with interstate commerce.

    If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.”

    I’ll let him know, sir.

  48. Rich Rifkin

    “Tolls on all roads? Are you kidding me? That has to be the most regressive idea, which will disproportionately effect the poor.”

    In a sense, you’e right. It makes the freeways, at rush hour, less affordable to low income drivers, particularly those who commute long distances by themselves. But that is not all bad.

    The idea is to give the poor and middle income a better option than they have now, by making public transit (paticularly intercity buses and vans) cheaper, more available and mostly paid for by the wealthy and upper-middle income who would pay the tolls.

    That’s how it works in the City of London and in Hong Kong. They have eliminated traffic jams which formerly constipated their roads.

    Congestion not only causes terrible effluent problems, it’s also a negative for the economy. The poor and everyone else thus benefits from efficient levies, regressive though they may be.

    “Furthermore, I believe somewhere on this blog it was mentioned there may be a constitutional argument in regard to tolls, and interfering with free commerce, or some such thing.”

    We have toll roads all over the place — bridge districts and turnpikes, for example. I can’t imagine them being illegal. They have nothing to do with interstate commerce.

    If someone else can remember it, please mention it to Rich Rifkin – who needs to rethink the “toll” idea.”

    I’ll let him know, sir.

  49. Anonymous

    Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot ,and with your other foot step on your fingers until they are broken, did you even read what you typed before hitting send…

  50. Anonymous

    Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot ,and with your other foot step on your fingers until they are broken, did you even read what you typed before hitting send…

  51. Anonymous

    Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot ,and with your other foot step on your fingers until they are broken, did you even read what you typed before hitting send…

  52. Anonymous

    Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot ,and with your other foot step on your fingers until they are broken, did you even read what you typed before hitting send…

  53. Rich Rifkin

    ALL roads with tolls?… wow I really really don’t want that…the traffic isn’t THAT bad.”

    No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.

    “Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot.”

    You have a happy Thanksgiving, Freda. It’s always nice to hear from you.

  54. Rich Rifkin

    ALL roads with tolls?… wow I really really don’t want that…the traffic isn’t THAT bad.”

    No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.

    “Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot.”

    You have a happy Thanksgiving, Freda. It’s always nice to hear from you.

  55. Rich Rifkin

    ALL roads with tolls?… wow I really really don’t want that…the traffic isn’t THAT bad.”

    No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.

    “Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot.”

    You have a happy Thanksgiving, Freda. It’s always nice to hear from you.

  56. Rich Rifkin

    ALL roads with tolls?… wow I really really don’t want that…the traffic isn’t THAT bad.”

    No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.

    “Rich Rifkin open your mouth and insert foot.”

    You have a happy Thanksgiving, Freda. It’s always nice to hear from you.

  57. Rich Rifkin

    “No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.”

    And as I would have it, the tolls would only be large at the time of highest demand — say morning and afternoon rush — and could be zero in the overnight hours.

    What is unfortunate about the bridge tolls in the Bay Area is they are the same 24/7. Thus, you pay the same if you cross the Bay Bridge at 2:30 a.m. as you do at 8:30 a.m. By making the system automated (and without any stops), the rates could be adjusted up or down easily, based on the traffic load. The result would be a great, paid for public transit system, plenty of money to repair and upgrade the infrastructure and the elimination of traffic jams.

  58. Rich Rifkin

    “No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.”

    And as I would have it, the tolls would only be large at the time of highest demand — say morning and afternoon rush — and could be zero in the overnight hours.

    What is unfortunate about the bridge tolls in the Bay Area is they are the same 24/7. Thus, you pay the same if you cross the Bay Bridge at 2:30 a.m. as you do at 8:30 a.m. By making the system automated (and without any stops), the rates could be adjusted up or down easily, based on the traffic load. The result would be a great, paid for public transit system, plenty of money to repair and upgrade the infrastructure and the elimination of traffic jams.

  59. Rich Rifkin

    “No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.”

    And as I would have it, the tolls would only be large at the time of highest demand — say morning and afternoon rush — and could be zero in the overnight hours.

    What is unfortunate about the bridge tolls in the Bay Area is they are the same 24/7. Thus, you pay the same if you cross the Bay Bridge at 2:30 a.m. as you do at 8:30 a.m. By making the system automated (and without any stops), the rates could be adjusted up or down easily, based on the traffic load. The result would be a great, paid for public transit system, plenty of money to repair and upgrade the infrastructure and the elimination of traffic jams.

  60. Rich Rifkin

    “No, just major freeways and major highways off of them.”

    And as I would have it, the tolls would only be large at the time of highest demand — say morning and afternoon rush — and could be zero in the overnight hours.

    What is unfortunate about the bridge tolls in the Bay Area is they are the same 24/7. Thus, you pay the same if you cross the Bay Bridge at 2:30 a.m. as you do at 8:30 a.m. By making the system automated (and without any stops), the rates could be adjusted up or down easily, based on the traffic load. The result would be a great, paid for public transit system, plenty of money to repair and upgrade the infrastructure and the elimination of traffic jams.

  61. jeff shaw

    Don Shor said…

    “Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.”

    Don, I think I’m going to have to get my biker gang (bicycles, that is) to corner you next time you are closing up the shop. Mass transit is the way to go, hands down. Less paving and more room for plants, for starters! : )

  62. jeff shaw

    Don Shor said…

    “Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.”

    Don, I think I’m going to have to get my biker gang (bicycles, that is) to corner you next time you are closing up the shop. Mass transit is the way to go, hands down. Less paving and more room for plants, for starters! : )

  63. jeff shaw

    Don Shor said…

    “Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.”

    Don, I think I’m going to have to get my biker gang (bicycles, that is) to corner you next time you are closing up the shop. Mass transit is the way to go, hands down. Less paving and more room for plants, for starters! : )

  64. jeff shaw

    Don Shor said…

    “Washington Metro is subsidized by billions of dollars in federal money. Much of the rest of its budget comes from local transportation taxes. Mass transit, which is used by a very tiny percentage of the public, is cheap to the riders because they don’t pay fares that even cover the operating costs.”

    Don, I think I’m going to have to get my biker gang (bicycles, that is) to corner you next time you are closing up the shop. Mass transit is the way to go, hands down. Less paving and more room for plants, for starters! : )

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