10/27/2011: New Report Says $142 Billion Needed to Fix and Maintain California's Public Transportation Over Next Ten Years

For Immediate Release

October 27, 2011

CONTACT: Graham Brownstein, State Policy Director, TransForm
O: 916-441-0204, x302 / C: 916-478-1088 / E: [email protected]

Huge shortfalls for transportation needs across California 

TransForm calls on State to index gas tax to stop the bleeding

The California Transportation Commission just releaseda Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment and the findings are sobering, if not frightening.  The cost of fixing and maintaining the state's crumbling roads, highways, bridges, public transit infrastructure, airports, seaports, railways, and border crossings are $341 billion for the next decade.  Yet there is only $147 billion in projected revenue for these purposes – less than half of the need.  

 "When you look at the assessment, one thing is clear," says Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm.  "Public transportation has the greatest needs of all."  Public transportation is listed as needing a whopping $142 billion in repairs and maintenance over the next 10 years.  But this is due in great part to billions of public transportation dollars being redirected for the General Fund over the past decade.

"The state has bled our public transportation dry directly through revenue raids and indirectly by letting inflation eat away at revenues," says Cohen.  "Public transportation riders have been paying the price with higher fares and less service.  It's time for California to make funding transit a priority."

But how will we pay for public transportation, as well as other transportation needs like our crumbling bridges?  One of the easiest solutions would be for California to index the state gas tax.  Because the state gas tax has never been indexed to inflation, the value of the gas tax in real dollars (i.e., what we can afford to buy with the revenues generated by the tax) decreases every year.  

Indexing the gas tax to keep pace with inflation would have a tiny, almost unnoticeable impact on prices at the pump (just over one penny per gallon next year).  Over time this would provide billions per year that would otherwise be lost to inflation. This won't fully fix the problem, but it is a critical and necessary for stopping the bleeding. 

"While there is no silver bullet for all of our transportation needs," noted Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane. "Indexing the gas tax is a critical starting point to long-term overall system viability.  And it will support regional efforts such as the 30/10 campaign to deliver great public transportation in just 10 years in LA County."  

Public transportation ridership is growing consistently across the state, yet the quality and availability of buses, trains, and ferries worsens daily.  Ensuring that people have travel options and can avoid driving solo on congested roads can save families up to $5,450 per year in transportation costs, and cut air pollution by 42%.  

Spending on transit also creates and sustains good local jobs and a healthy economy.  Reports show that every dollar spent on public transportation supports between 1.6 and 2.5 times the number of jobs that a dollar spent on highways supports.  Maintaining and increasing our public transportation options is central to California meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets as well.

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TransForm is California's leading public transportation advocacy organization, with offices in Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose.  Learn more at TransFormCA.org and InvestInTransit.org, the website for TransForm's campaign to fix public transportation for all Californians.

The full California Transit Commission Needs Assessment is available at: http://catc.ca.gov/reports/2011Reports/2011_Needs_Assessment_updated.pdf Compose your email here.