Printer Friendly

FUNDING CRISIS THREATENS SERVICE CUTS IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

 SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study indicates that California's ambitious plans to expand transit service throughout the state may be derailed by an unexpected funding crisis, the California Transit Association said today.
 The threat of a projected $4.1-billion operating deficit by the year 2000 could force local service cuts and severely hinder the Golden State's push for cleaner air. This crisis in transit funding is driven by several developments, related to each other only in that their collective impact is both unanticipated and potentially devastating, according to Terry Cooper, chair of the California Transit Association.
 "Transit districts have been hit hard by a double whammy of lower revenues due to the recession and an onslaught of new costs mandated by the state and federal government," said Cooper director of the Fresno Area Express. "Complying with the Clean Air acts and the Americans with Disabilities Act alone will cost California transit systems an estimated $232 million by 1996." According to Cooper, these are mandated costs, for which no new funds have been provided, which means they must be paid for through cuts in existing service or obtaining additional funding.
 Expanded public transit has been one of gridlocked California's few success stories in transportation in the past decade, according to Cooper, noting that transit is central to the state's efforts to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
 "The transit renaissance in California benefited from a combination of fortuitous events at the local, state and federal level," said Cooper. "Citizens approved a number of local sales taxes for transportation improvements; California voters in 1990 approved the 'Transportation Blueprint for the 21st Century' -- Propositions 108 and 111; and Congress recently enacted landmark legislation to re-craft the previous highway program to allow funding of additional transit projects."
 Recent transit milestones include opening the Los Angeles Blue and Red Lines, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) extensions, improvement of CalTrain service in the Bay Area, opening of the Capitol Corridor Service (heavy rail), San Diego light rail extensions and upgrading of the San Diego-Los Angeles-Ventura Amtrak rail service.
 Ironically, California's enthusiasm for more rail transportation has also placed new requirements on transit systems. The capital investment in rail improvements endorsed by voters in Propositions 108 and 116 in 1990 totaled almost $3 billion in mandated rail expansion. Since no source of funds to subsidize operation of this massive expansion was included, the result is a projected $252-million addition to the cumulative deficit for all California transit systems by the year 1996.
 According to Cooper, transit systems are aggressively pursuing efficiencies and cost-cutting, but these efforts pale in comparison to the needs. "No one wants to raise fares during a recession when many low-income citizens are transit-dependent," he notes. "And fare increases have a self-defeating tendency to reduce ridership and revenues anyway."
 California's best alternative is to enact a vehicle user fee, says Cooper, requiring automobile drivers to pay a fee based upon miles driven. This would place the cost on the shoulders of those most responsible for air pollution and congestion, according to the study, and would also serve as an additional incentive to use public transit. The study recommended a basic fee of two-tenths of a cent per mile traveled between biennial smog checks. As an example, for an individual driving 12,000 miles annually, the basic fee would be $24 per year.
 Such a user fee would generate $516 million per year, the study indicates, and would significantly reduce the projected deficit for the state's combined transit systems. Because it is based on and would grow in proportion to miles traveled, it would provide a dependable source of revenues.
 If nothing is done, the California Transit Association predicts that many systems will have no practical alternative to cuts in service. If that happens, congestion will worsen, air quality will decline, and California's progress toward a society less dependent upon the automobile will be threatened, said Cooper.
 The study was prepared for the California Transit Association by private consultants, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
 NOTE: The study, "California's Public Transportation Operators: Analysis of Projected Financial Needs and Solutions," was submitted in January 1993, as prepared by G. Richard Swanson and Associates, in association with Manuel Padron & Associates and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Copies are available from the California Transit Association, 1400 K St., Suite 301, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-446-4656.
 -0- 3/4/93
 /CONTACT: Edward Gerber, executive director of the California Transit Association, 916-446-4656; or Robert Deen of Deen & Black Public Relations, 916-444-8014, for the California Transit Association/


CO: California Transit Association ST: California IN: TRN SU:

SG-GT -- SF006 -- 3008 03/04/93 12:45 EST
COPYRIGHT 1993 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 4, 1993
Words:782
Previous Article:MORRISON KNUDSEN AWARDED OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS VALUED AT $55 MILLION AT IBM LOCATIONS IN ARIZONA AND CALIFORNIA
Next Article:CARLYLE ANNOUNCES THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CARLYLE INTERNATIONAL
Topics:


Related Articles
PAT: JOBS AT RISK WITH PRESIDENT'S TRANSIT BUDGET PROPOSAL
Senate transportation cuts deeper, but more balanced than House's.
Vote key for health services, staff says.
Americans Link Increasing Investment in Public Transportation To Solving Congestion and a Better Quality of Life.
A test of values: the choices governors, state legislators, and Congress make to close huge budget gaps tell you what their priorities are. (Where We...
MTA Urges Union Leaders to Back Off From Strike Threat.
MTA EYES ANOTHER FARE HIKE LEADERS DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION SHORTFALL.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters