Funding the San Diego region’s 35-year transportation plan might rely on support from groups who don’t like the San Diego region’s 35-year transportation plan.
A bunch of major projects in that plan rely on the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, finding new money from local taxpayers or from state or federal sources.
SANDAG wants to ask county voters in 2016 to approve up to a half-cent sales tax increase that could raise up to $21.3 billion. That wouldn’t pay for everything in the agency’s $200 billion, multi-decade plan, but it would be significant.
But for that initiative to have a chance, SANDAG needs labor, progressives and environmentalist to support it.
They don’t. Yet.
SANDAG staff is working on it, but it’s possible a split among environmentalists – between those who’ve taken a hardline stance against highway expansions and those taking a more centrist position – could become an obstacle.
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Messrs. Rider & Martin are discussing another flawed decision that has driven,(sp),transportation in an unfortunate direction. The original blue line, due to its unique demographics; concentrations of Mexican workers and downtown core jobs is indeed successful. Peak travel equal to more than one freeway lane.
But it created unwarranted motivation for trolley route expansion by a factor over three. With very different clients and activities, passenger-miles on the added portion in only about 25% more than the original. That's less than 0.5% of Regional daily 100 million passenger miles travel. A significant reason for mass transit's failure to provide even 2% of travel.
But San Diego Forward proposes 2 million p-m more implying the pleasurable "Transit Oriented Developments" produce the Plan's GHG reduction success. Price tag, $40 billion capital for new and improved routes, assuming optimistic ride shares and access. Mid Coast Trolley is a part.
But 20 million p-m or so are needed to absorb growth. SANDAG Staff analysis shows support to dramatically "cleaner" on-road vehicles is many times more cost effect than mass transit's near trivial results. Demonstrated on-call doorstep access and fast direct to destination service avoid need for widespread mass transit overlay particularly for non-drivers.
At a Regional level, discussions about more mass transit are tempests in a tiny teapot.
Luxury buses are a far better option than light rail -- in San Diego, $24 million vs. $2+ BILLION
by Richard Rider
Buses are the forgotten alternative to rail -- including light rail. In San Diego we are in the process of building the "Mid-Coast" 11 mile trolley line for currently projected $2 BILLION -- up from the promised $1.2 billion. The final price will likely be another "surprise."
The entire passenger load (which, of course, proponents "overestimated") could be handled by a dozen or fewer luxury buses -- most express buses as the line parallels an interstate freeway. The slightly slower bus travel time (one estimate is about 4 minutes) could be made up by the more frequent departure times. At a million dollars a bus, that's $12 million.
Let's be generous and compensate twice as many bus drivers $200K each annually (this IS California, after all) -- that's $4.8 million. Throw in a ridiculous $5 million annually for other overhead, and the comparison still is absurd. The train overhead will likely surpass that, given that it has its own tracks to maintain.
Okay, okay, I'm NOT being fair. The $2 billion rail cost is the capital cost ONLY. My $12 million figure includes the bus capital costs plus all the costs of operation for one year. Shucks, let's double the $12 million to $24 million, just to be safe. I prefer to err on the side of caution.
Let's see -- $2 billion or $24 million -- which makes more sense??? Apparently it's a more difficult question than one would think -- when spending OPM.
@Richard Rider What you get for $2 billion versus $24 million is not remotely equivalent. With the trolley you get dedicated right-of-way that goes directly into high-use locations. You can't begin to do that with buses for anything close to $24 million. And without that type of infrastructure for buses, the time difference between the trolley and buses will be far more than 4 minutes, especially during peak commute periods.
When one looks at the high ridership of the existing really inferior bus routes between Old Town the UCSD and UTC areas, it's not hard to envision the Mid-Coast trolley extension doing extremely well from day one. I expect it will be almost as strong a performer as the original blue line segment from downtown to San Ysidro and for that level of ridership, rail is a better option than bus service.
@Greg Martin @Richard Rider "When one looks at the high ridership of the existing really inferior bus routes between Old Town the UCSD and UTC areas, it's not hard to envision the Mid-Coast trolley extension doing extremely well from day one. I expect it will be almost as strong a performer as the original blue line segment from downtown to San Ysidro and for that level of ridership, rail is a better option than bus service."
Wanna bet? You seriously think the ridership of this spur is going to approach the Tijuana Trolley usage -- arguably the most successful trolley line in America? "Envision" all you want -- like EVERY projection of SANDAG, the ACTUAL ridership will be well below the official ridership projected when selling us on the project. And even the official Mid-Coast ridership projection is far below the TJ Trolley usage.
BTW, I'm serious about a wager. A REAL wager, based on usage 3 months after the spur opens. Five figures. An escrowed, legal wager (ONLY if it can be done legally), with the winner directing the loser's proceeds to his charity of choice.
Oh, one other point: This trolley line will NOT get many cars off the road. Based on past experience, 75% or more of the riders will be former bus riders, who will have no option but to ride the rails -- since the bus runs will be closed down to force more people to use the trolley.
@Richard Rider @Greg Martin The time to judge the ridership of the new line is not three months after it opens. It will build more with time. That's what has happened with the Rapid 235 route between downtown San Diego and Escondido that began service in June 2014. Ridership has grown steadily and is significantly more than when it began. It provides a much faster and superior service to the route 20 bus that operated between those endpoints but on a longer route with more stops and shorter hours of service. Route 20 still exists on its prior route, but only as far north as Rancho Bernardo.
I expect to see something similar with the Mid-Coast Trolley when it opens. There will be some reconfiguration of existing bus services. Clearly a portion of the riders on those buses will opt for the superior trolley service. But the superior service will also draw new riders, people who were driving but not taking the bus previously. That's what's happened with the Rapid 235. And that faster, more frequent service also strengthens the overall transit network extending the reach of transit for more people.
I'm not taking any bets on the Mid-Coast ridership equaling or exceeding the ridership on the original line to San Ysidro, at least not any time soon. But I expect the line will do well and ridership will grow over time, especially once Rapid route extensions to the South Bay are completed.
@Greg Martin @Richard Rider It's common for SANDAG to make fake projections about light rail ridership -- projections for the FIRST YEAR of operation. When it doesn't happen (surprise!),.they fall back on your gambit -- "some day" it might be what was projected. Well, that's not much of a standard to judge performance by, is it?
BTW, it's nice to see you using express BUSES as examples. On that, we agree, though I don't think designated lanes are cost effective.
The great thing about buses is that if the projections are wrong, adjustments can be made at relatively little cost. Routes can be reduced, increased, or altered to meet changing and unanticipated demand (or lack of demand). But once rail is built at a cost of billions of dollars, it's LITERALLY set in concrete.
We are still drive by '60s & '70s flawed reasoning there never would beclean cars and trmain as the true public transportation.
"Capretz said she understands why some of her allies are demanding more, but she says she’s looking for a “legally, financially and politically” feasible compromise."
One exists Ms. Capretz; an earl step in the urban transportation revolution that meets the vast majority's demand for on-demand personal travel direct to destinations using evolving reduced energ vehicles to reduce energy and emissions.
As the call-up systems such as Lyff and Uber expend with doorstep access, including to non-drivers, the need for covering the landscape withSan Diego Forward $40 billion mass transit will mostly disappear. Financial adjustment for low income riders should be less than subsidies needed for mass transit. In a very few corridors with unique demographics peak period use with existing mass transit may be useful.
Looking ahead instead of 19th Century time wasteful scheduled service, this approach is compatible with electrified narrow guideways to reduce land use in dense communitieswhere capacity is needed.
Time to review the Quality of Life ballot composition
I don't understand the headline. What is "liberal" about these organizations that are dedicated to conserving resources and protecting San Diego's natural environment? Those are increasingly mainstream positions.
Moreover- Why is improving public transit, expanding transportation options, getting people out of their cats and basically doing what the two other largest cities in California have done for years not described as simply "smart"?
@lorisaldana Because these liberal organizations are made up of a small group of anti-car activists and trial lawyers with their own radical agenda who are not elected by the voters. We don't want San Diego County to turn into another Los Angeles where they are creating massive traffic jams by cannibalizing freeway lanes and street lanes for a small group of militant bicyclists and subsidized bus riders. Los Angeles is the opposite of "smart"
@William Charles More simplistic thinking! I and many of my friends are supporters of these organizations and I wouldn't describe ANY of us as anti-car activists. Cars have their role; we have no wish to force anyone to stop using cars. What we want is reasonable & affordable alternatives to using the car when our purpose for going somewhere fits with the public transportation system and for the transit sales taxes to be used to build that public transit during our lifetime.
Why on earth is it necessary for anti-transit to believe that it's an either/or choice? I use both my car & the bus/trolley. I know others who also use one or the other on occasion.
1974's edict mass transit instead of cars has failed. San Diego Forward mass transit
landscape saturation to provide access at $40 billion capital is too expensive.
Clean cars on streets or narrow guideways provide preferred on-demand fast individual car service directly doorstep to destination as a public service.
Build suchRegional transportationnow, and explore automation later.
Match how representativemembers of the public vote with their pocket books rather than special interest desires.
To give SANDAG more money is to support and guarantee the survival of a bloated bureaucracy that spends money on purchasing reports from their politically connected friends, filled with cut and paste paragraphs used in other taxpayer paid reports that never get read. That is not mentioning their own salaries that will be paid for from these new funds.
In the 2004 sales tax hike, a Citizens Review Panel was to be formed for the purpose to oversee the spending of these newly raised funds. That Citizens Review Panel work was done when the tax raise pasted. Its real purpose was and the reason for its inclusion in the tax hike bill was to get the voters to believe that there would be some citizen oversight.
In fact, that "Citizens Panel" is made up of appointees of our local governments who act as a rubber stamp for whatever the bureaucrats present to them. There is no oversight, just further expenditures of taxpayer funds to conduct a farce every month.
SANDAG is waving the prospect of all this new found wealth in front of the labor unions in the hope of buying their support with taxpayer money. You help us get the money and we'll share some of it with you.
I don't think it's quite as simple as "SANDAG commits to redistributing the money it already has to more transit funding." As this article notes, the sales tax bond being debated will only account for 7-10% of SANDAG's planned $200B revenue. The vast majority of SANDAG's transportation funding comes from federal and state sources, and there are often strict limits on its use. SANDAG doesn't just get a blank check to spend on anything - a lot of the money is legally required to go toward highway projects.
That's one of the reasons that cities like San Diego and LA have been investing in Bus Rapid Transit projects that use freeway "Express Lanes" (see I-15). This allows SANDAG to use highway money to fund the major infrastructure cost of these new transit routes.