I attended the VTA's open house Wednesday expecting to hear something that I hadn't heard before regarding the BRT Lanes and the proposed toll lanes being put into effect throughout Santa Clara County. What I got instead was a bunch of slick flyers and I don't knows. The few questions that were answered sounded very much like the canned replies that I got from every other VTA rep that I've spoken with.
First I asked about the toll lanes and what their purpose was. I was given a song and dance about how wonderful they will be, and how they will alleviate rush hour traffic, and provide added revenue for other projects. AHA! I said to myself, it always comes down to the money!
I then asked why more money was needed for road projects when our gas taxes ostensibly go to maintain and construct roads and bridges? And followed up with "I know that a portion of taxes on fuel also get redirected into the General Fund, how do I know that the same thing won't happen with toll lane revenues?"
The rep explained to me that this could never possibly happen because the State Legislature has strictly authorized the funds to take care of roads and "other" transit projects. (Hmmm didn't they say the same thing about the funds for High Speed Rail?)
That told me all I needed to know. The Legislature can repurpose funds faster than you can say "What the?". They raised the fuel tax by 3.5 cents last year and avoided sending it to the voters by pulling a fast one as shown here in this San Jose Mercury article:
It is quite ironic that the VTA wants to raise funds from people using their cars to fund Mass Transit projects. If everyone stops using their cars (as appears to be the goal) how will these projects then be paid for?
Make no mistake, this is basically a new tax that will result in more accidents and will disproportionately impact those will low incomes who will either be forced to wait in bumper to bumper traffic, or pay for the privilege of driving on roads that have already been paid for.
I then went to get more information on the BRT Lanes. The slick brochure implies that it will provide more jobs and more income to the area while providing better transportation. We all know that the major provider of Jobs here is Google and there is no way VTA will ever be able to compete with them. On top of that, the new plan does not even address getting people in and out of the major employment hub located in the North Bayshore. When I told the VTA rep that it cost me $8 to go round trip to North Bayshore from my house less than 3 miles away and only about 25 cents to do it in my car, he had no answer.
I am sure that these projects will provide more jobs for the VTA, but I do not believe they will do much for Mountain View other than creating more gridlock; and that taking these BRT buses will be very expensive unless they are heavily subsidized.
Lastly, the presentation itself consisted of one VTA rep speaking for a few minutes and then we were allowed to "mingle". We had no opportunity to speak out in a public forum setting. This indicated to me that as with most agencies, they are not really interested in hearing (and letting the community hear) what the public thinks, but merely pushing through yet more projects that we don't want and don't need.
Candidate, Mountain View City Council
Web Link - Campaign Website