At long last, a record 84 days into the fiscal year, California state leaders are settling into a budget, albeit one that is far from ideal. Par for the course, transit funding is taking a big hit: $952 million diverted, and possibly $100 million more, which would leave just $306-$406 million of transit funds. We have already discussed Arnold’s “Transit Termination” tactics in the past. And we get that something has to break somewhere — though, of course, never the sacrosanct highway funds. For now, we will just leave it at this: crafting legislation that encourages smart growth is laudable, but entirely insufficient in isolation. If (when) transit agencies are forced to slash service and increase fares because the State has redirected their already precious funding, and if those service cuts and fare hikes result in service that is neither frequent nor accessible enough to lure even transit-oriented choice riders away from their cars — then where we do find ourselves? It would be shameful not to capitalize on the increased demand for transit induced by gas prices, but those same rising fuel prices, combined with funding cuts, only aggravate the need for agencies to raise fares. The California Air Resources Board, in all its wisdom, opted to omit intercity and local transit from its master list of strategies to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that in no way justifies this budget’s wholesale slashing of transit funds. If anything, it demonstrates the positively gaping hole that exists in Sacramento’s understanding of these issues. The whole premise of transit-oriented development is lost without the transit. And not just any transit — good transit, which SB 375 itself codifies as headways of 15 minutes or less at peak times. But in light of funding cuts, it will be increasingly difficult for transit agencies to even provide this level of service. When will state leaders recognize this fundamental mismatch and halt their continuous raid on transit funds? In this fiscal year’s budget, state leaders have attempted to address a financial crisis — but in so doing, they have wholly neglected the climate crisis.
The next time any legislator or arnie talks about how “green” they are, can someone PLEASE toss a cream pie in their face to get ’em to shut up?
For years I have advocated placing a wind turbine in the State Capitol dome–it should be able to generate several megawatts with all the hot air created in that building.
The State is actually hoping to fund ITOD: Imagined Transit Oriented Development. If you image in the transit……it *might* happen.