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Capstone Conversation: Jared Asch Asks CCTA's Tim Haile About Transportation Taxes

From episode: CCTA Executive Director Tim Haile with Jared Asch- Episode 08

Let's talk about transportation taxes. Cause you talked about we're moving to a zero-emission vehicle. So we see a reduction in gas consumption and by 2035 and 2050 those numbers will go to near zero. It'll definitely start reducing gas tax for roadway improvements as no car in California will be allowed to be sold that takes gas anymore. 2045, 2050, you're cycling out entire fleets, people that do have gas vehicles by that point. It's going to seriously impact your funding. We've seen funding needed for BART, funding needed for transit agencies. We've talked about bridge toll increases, MTC, and putting a regional ballot measure on for transit. Then CCTA has potentially a ballot measure coming up in the next 10 years. Just talk about a little bit of funding ballot measures, what people should know, inform us.

Well, there's a lot of things happening right now. Uh, that's a tough question, but I think I'll, I'll put it this way. I think people are really fatigued on taxes and transportation revenues. And I, and we all as transportation professionals, we all recognize that. I think the first thing we need to do in my, this is my opinion is we need to understand better where all the existing funding is going. I think we need to hold ourselves accountable in terms of where this funding is going. I was giving a presentation to a group a couple of weeks ago, and we were talking about this in terms of before you put another ballot on the measure, where, how are you going to show me that, that this is going to make an improvement? I think that really comes down to being obviously transparent, but also having good data and being able to share that data. I know we have that data, but I think it's a matter of using that data to be able to demonstrate to the public that the work that we've been doing for the last, especially with measure J we have been doing good work with measure J in fact, Contra Costa transportation authority, we were actually given an award for good governance by the Contra Costa County Taxpayers Association. I think something to know about CCTA is that we're only 20 people. We are a high-performing agency. We operate this agency like you Jared, a small private consulting firm. We hold ourselves accountable every single day. And I think that's what people are looking for. They're looking for the government to be more efficient, and more accountable. Once people understand that, that there's good governance, I think that's what's going to take to really help people understand that, okay, my money is going to good places. But to your point, Jared Asch there are a lot of moving parts right now in terms of a regional housing measure in 2024, and a regional transportation measure in 2026, which quite frankly is there to address the transit fiscal cliff that's coming.

I think a lot of people, the general public, I don't, a lot of people don't even understand that there is a transit fiscal cliff that's coming. But I think that the transit fiscal cliff is important because transit is important for everyone, especially for those who really need to use it. Like, like for example, the yellow line, the BART line that comes from San Francisco all the way to Antioch, it's the highest productive line in the Bay Area. People use BART in Contra Costa County. Right now, BART has a tremendous fiscal cliff and that's because their revenues are down, their fare box is down. I think they're right around 45 % pre-pandemic revenue levels, whereas before they were depending on 70, 75 % fare box return, that 30 % of revenue is gone. It's missing, right? Luckily the federal government stepped in and was able to provide, I'll call it gap funding. Just recently, the state jumped in and tried to provide some gap funding for the next four years. This is really about transit doing two things in my opinion. One is getting creative and figuring out how to become more efficient and more, quite frankly, in some ways more accountable. Two, what is that money going to do to improve the transportation system and what's the value proposition? Why should I take transit, right? What's the value proposition? People are looking for is they're looking for the why or why are we doing this. I think that's a big part of the regional measure in 26.

Locally here in Contra Costa County, we, the board of CCTA, which is comprised of about 14 elected officials, will be discussing and looking at potentially when we will be renewing Measure J because it does sunset in 2034. We may go out for a measure in 2028, or 2032. I don't know. We have to have that discussion to be able to continue those revenues. Those revenues are important because, without Measure J, everyone's commute in Measure J would be anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes longer in Contra Costa County without Measure J, which is significant, right? That's significant. And I don't think people realize that there's an agency like CTA with this local revenue source which is your transportation agency. We are focused on this every single day, trying to bring benefit to all Contra Costans. We're leveraging every local sales tax dollar that we can possibly can to provide the most benefit. And like I said, without that local dollar, everyone's commute. Can you imagine if we never built the fourth boar of the Caldecott Tunnel? What's 24?

Yeah I'd be sitting there from last Friday. Could you imagine if we never widened Highway 4 from two lanes to two lanes to six lanes? It would be a mess still, right? It was at one point the most dangerous highway in the country but not any more. Measure J has brought these really important improvements into Contra Costa County. We've done it very well and very efficiently.


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