CALTRAIN TAX by Thomas Weissmiller, May 17, 2020

Why would our elected leaders want to burden the people who have been most harmed by theCOVID-19 lockdown and want to put a tax on the November 3, 2020 ballot? Are you familiar with the story about the frog and the scorpion? We, the taxpayers represent the frog. Our elected officials represent the scorpion.

San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara County residents are likely to see a sales tax on the November 3, 2020 ballot. Ridership on CalTrain has dropped 98% since the COVID-19 lockdown. Mass transportation requires mass ridership. Will it come back? A large number of CalTrain users are working from home. If this practice continues – mass ridership may never return.

Ideally the people that benefit from a service should be the payers, but in this case the bill payer are the low income who use CalTrain substantially less. These are the lower income people.

Each of the three county Board of Supervisors and their transit agencies must pass a resolution to put this on the ballot. San Mateo County and the San Mateo Transit Authority already have passed resolutions.

Supervisor Dave Pine apologetically introduced the resolution to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Mar 5, 2020. He explained the convoluted process to allow the CalTrain Board to make the decision to put a tax measure on the ballot. They will make this decision in July. Pine said, “If the Caltrain Board met today, we would vote against doing this. A lot of things would have to change before the CalTrain Board would ever feel comfortable going forward with a sales tax.” After the Board members hummed and hawed, they passed the resolution 5-0.

Hopefully voters when polled will send a message – NO CALTRAIN TAX FOR EMPTY TRAINS.

Below is the link and a table summary of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting on May 5, 2020. It is worth watching. There are a lot of sound bites we can use if they decide to put it on the ballot. a resolution approving the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board’s placement of a three-county measure on the ballot for the November 3, 2020, Presidential Election to impose a one-eighth of one percent (0.125%) retail transactions and use tax for a period of thirty (30) years, throughout San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and the City and County of San Francisco to be used for operating and capital purposes of the Caltrain Rail Service.

Sponsors: Supervisor Dave Pine

The CalTrain Board will determine in July if it goes on the ballot. Polling will be the key factor. It will be a humdinger push-pull poll. People need to be aware of push-pull polling and make sure polling is not favorable.

Updated: June 11, 2020

CalTrain Tax is still on the table

CalTrain ridership is down 98%. Bay Area transit commuters have all but disappeared. BART ridership is down 94%. The pandemic has crushed the budgets of the Bay Area’s 27 public transit agencies, and now many agencies have drastically limited or cut their routes.

So what’s next for public transportation in the Bay Area?

Facebook announced that it may cancel its commitment to the Dumbarton Corridor project. Without Facebook’s continued investment, the project will not be able to complete the environmental review process. As a result, it is likely that it will be left out of the region’s long-term Regional Transportation Plan, making it impossible for the project to receive regional, state and federal infrastructure grants”.

If asked, “Now is not the time for a CalTrain sales tax.”