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June 23, 2017



Fresh off of a big win after securing a $647 million federal grant for the $2 billion electrification and Caltrain Modernization Program, state legislators are pushing a bill to ask voters for an eighth-cent sales tax increase. That’s because despite construction beginning in the coming weeks, Caltrain has long noted the existing project only funds electrification of 75 percent of its fleet.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is suggesting there’s viable support for the new tax that could potentially enable Caltrain to accommodate more than 250,000 riders — a steep increase from its current 62,000 passengers and the 110,000 capacity expected from the underway modernization program.

As one of the few transit agencies without a dedicated funding source, Caltrain is now looking to have guaranteed tax revenue instead of relying solely on fares and contributions from Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties.

But it’s not the only proposal voters may consider in the gubernatorial race when transportation will be a hot topic for the Bay Area.

A variety of transit agencies are looking to 2018 as the year to potentially ask local voters for increased sales taxes and bridge tolls to fund billions of dollars worth of infrastructure needs. It also comes on the heels of the Legislature hiking gas taxes, increasing vehicle registration fees and charging electric car drivers.

The Caltrain sales tax bill unveiled last week was promptly followed by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group announcing Monday, June 26, the results of a poll conducted in early May. After polling 1,200 likely voters, 74 percent supported the tax if it would more than double Caltrain’s ridership capacity, according to SVLG.

It’s part of the SVLG’s annual Silicon Valley Poll series being released this week and CEO Carl Guardino said there’s impressive support for a tax that would help address congestion.


Thank you for this comment. I'm a bit behind so this is helpful. We do include the link as well which is from the DJ and can be found here:


Note the "survey" was done by an advocate of the tax (SVLG) and must be taken with a giant grain of salt.


Jon Mays has written a thoughtful piece on taxes of various sorts using a new poll as the basis for the questions. Read it here:


It's a bit flawed in logic, though as we see here:

And yet when we talk about who should pay for improvements to traffic congestion, an increase in the bridge toll and an increase in the sales tax will be felt in the pockets of the very common man and woman we ostensibly care so much about and want to protect and retain as part of our diverse character. The new workers in their buses lumbering down the highway won’t feel the effect as much and certainly have more means to absorb it. And yet we seem to be catering to the cause of our traffic and increased housing prices at the cost to everyone else.

Why is that? I get that we don’t want to provide a disincentive to these large, groundbreaking companies — you know, the Googles, the Facebooks, the Apples — and want to show appreciation. But even mining towns formed governments to ensure that the impact of the economic driver ensured the quality of life for all. Isn’t that the essence of a representative democracy? We the people make up a government that ensures everyone pays their fair share for the impact of their activities, and clearly new workers are creating an impact felt by all. Why should the average person who is not the cause of the problem be asked to pay for the solution?
Whether one has been using our roads for 30 years or 30 days, one uses the same amount of road space. This is the same sort of illogic that has governments trying to show preference to "long time renters" verses newly arrived renters. It's discriminatory. And in the traffic scenario it also assumes that the new traffic is predominately Facebookies and Googlers which is not proven. It would also appear to say that the 30 year Apple employee is not a problem but the 30 day Apple employee is so we should tax them all.


The DJ is highlighting possible second transit taxes:

The hourlong study session hosted by the Board of Supervisors was targeted toward an effort to potentially ask voters to for a sales tax hike dedicated to transit.

SamTrans, which operates the county’s bus system and serves as the umbrella agency for Caltrain as well as the Transportation Authority, is seeking to branch out and rebrand as a “mobility company.” But with both Caltrain and SamTrans predicted to hit financial cliffs in subsequent years, officials are looking for an infusion of support.

But exactly how the expected annual $82 million a new sales tax hike would be spent isn’t yet clear. Getting officials and the public on board with an expenditure plan could be the linchpin in a successful measure and will be the focus of the upcoming yearlong outreach process.

An initial suggestion is for half the funds to be directed to SamTrans and Caltrain expenditures, with the remainder going toward projects similar to what’s outlined in Measure A, the county’s existing half-cent transportation sales tax.


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