Sunday, April 15, 2007

Urban Transit

Realizing that the best support for transportation is to maintain and strengthen the infrastructure for the type of transportation that the overwhelming majority of people use and prefer to use, their cars, is what is driving the Governor’s thinking here, and that is a good thing.

Daniel Weintraub: Governor is in trouble over plan for transit funds
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, April 15, 2007

A bitter fight over a 35-year-old funding formula in the state budget has landed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in hot water with the state's public transportation lobby.

You might have heard, or will likely hear in the weeks ahead, that the governor is proposing to cut millions from state support for local transit.

His proposal, we've been told, is going to wreak havoc on bus and rail service from one end of California to the other.

Schwarzenegger's proposal has flaws. But taken as a whole, in the context of California's ongoing budget problems, the governor's plan is a reasonable opening to a discussion about the proper level of state support for transit. And its effect would probably not be as disastrous as the transit lobby is making it out to be.

First, consider the context. When Schwarzenegger took office in 2003, state aid for local transit operating budgets was about $100 million. In two years, that support doubled. And two years from now, even under his proposal, it would double again. If the governor gets his way, after six years in office, state aid to transit will have increased from a little more than $100 million to about $400 million annually.