In a little over a week, California will pass its yearly budget. If it doesn't find substantial new money for public transit, systems across the state will be forced to enact brutal cuts to service. I talk to Nick Josefowitz of SPUR and Beth Osborne of Transportation for America about the crisis, the stakes, and the states that aren't screwing it up.
Looking for a post-mortem report. Did the California legislature and governor come to their senses at the last moment?
I was waiting for the Presidential ambitions of Mr. Newsome to come up. There's no movement to advise him, that if he lets public transit in California be hurt, he'll be primaried on that right out of any contention? Not just in 2024, but ever...
Rural and suburban areas need transit for "Greyhound Therapy" as we called it in the mountain towns back when. "Pick Denver or SLC, son, just don't stick around here." Another cost pawned off on the cities. Seems to have done the trick judging by tent camps surrounding social services offices in any major city.
Seriously, so much money flows to rural and suburban areas via fed and state gas taxes, and of course the trucking industry. And farm subsidies, etc. etc. A few 10s of billions for transit for cities, and inner burbs is not absurd. Amtrack Joe, where are you? Looking for those swing votes among the soccer moms careening around the MI and PA exurbs in the Yukon XL I suppose.
As far as progressives, recently they seem to be opposing rail projects in the name of "save the buses," claiming the big capex of trains should just be used for years of more buses. Do they understand the labor and maint costs of running buses instead of rail? The annoyance of getting bikes, strollers, luggage, etc., on most buses? Thankfully Denver has stayed the course.
Several times, Beth begs the question "why is public transportation considered a Liberal political asset when their record on the subject is not unambiguously stellar?"
I'd surmise it's the same reason the economy is considered a Conservative political asset even though the data directly contradicts that notion. People still believe "trickle down" works, even though it's never worked, ever.
It's the stories we tell as a society. No more, no less.
I was very glad Beth chimed in regarding the legislatures when the DOTs were getting hung out to dry in this conversation. The DOTs do what they are told to do. In most cases, the legislature is the body making the decisions and holding the purse strings. This results in a complete lack of long-term planning as each member vies for their pet projects and nobody wants to maintain or preserve the system we already have ("you don't win friends with salad").
My understanding is that the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority does not operate in California.