Thursday, October 09, 2008
Measure "R" and the Whiners
Los Angeles is crazy. Gee, that's a shocking and unexpected proclamation eh? No this time it is a "jump the shark" moment in public transportation. LA is pushing Measure "R" a half cent sales tax increase to fund transit. That's another half cent BTW. Props A&C already have combined a half cent. This pushes LAs sales tax to 8.75%. Buy comparison neighboring Ventura sports a 7.25% rate. I said "buy" not "by" because that's what's happening. How would you like to be a car dealership near that border? 1.5% is more than dealers are making these days. But forget the elementary economics. Look at the lame politics being employed. Hit up the taxpayers for an amount 4x the total farebox revenue? Dumb. Look, it's a mess but public transit needs pubic subsidy. We can talk about "needs" versus "deserves" another time for now unpaid and un-payable bills are accumulating. It has taken all of two weeks for the lie that is the California State budget to be revealed for what it was. As warned here last month actual revenues have fallen off a cliff. Worse is the exploding gap twixt projections. "But Dawg, this is a transit post." Fine but remember that 4/5ths of transit expenditures are public funds.
Measure "R" is about mostly maintaining service. I know, I know theproponents are all about making things better wrt congestion but these same proponents are claiming without "R" massive service cuts will occur immediately. I guess both sides can play at the spite game.
As long as reasonable and justified user fees are not part of the solution it should come as no surprise that voters will likewise consider Meas R to be unreasonable and unjustified. Measure "R" will lose by a majority 58% to 42% but 66% is needed to pass. Here's why the beleagured taxpay will balk:
2007 fares accounted for 23% of operating revenue. 17% of total budget. $293,878,777 per year and the amount requested in “R” is 30 years $40b or approximately 4 times as much. Call the current farebox 25%, use that as a baseline and raise 25% from fare and 75% from taxes. Problem? Well I have a problem. Maintaining that ratio would mean a doubling of fares. Besides doubling fares is likely to only increase revenue 60-70%. Things should have never been allowed to get this disconnected service/cost. Now that we are here there is a very real threat of a voter revolt that will cut of their noses to spite themselves. To keep the taxpayer paying it is necessary to raise fares as much as possible until ridership and elasticity are stretched and then go to the taxpayer.