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Voters soundly reject C-Tran measure
Last November, Proposition 1 sales tax proposal in Vancouver Washington failed a public vote for the C-Tran share of maintenance and operations of Columbia River Crossingís light rail extension from the Expo Center in Oregon to Clark Park & Ride and to fund the Fourth Plain Bus Rapid Transit project.
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• C-TRAN has already passed votes to raise sales tax in 2005 and again 2011
• C-TRAN already has over $25 million in the bank and collects over $22 million a year in taxes.
• If the new tax is approved, C-TRAN's total sales tax share would rise to .8 of one percent, with collection of the new tax likely beginning in April 2013. With the added tax, C-TRAN's revenues from sales taxes would total about $35 million in 2013.
• Light rail may not be fully paid for by federal funding and most likely C-Tran and local taxpayers will be responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars short-fall.
With light rail comes bridge tolls.
• CRC leaders confirmed during a Washington Legislative Oversight meeting that tolls are being used to secure federal funds for light rail.
• Toll estimates could be high as $8 each way according to the CRC's own documents.
• Citizens have been being told tolls could reach $8 since back in 2009 when then mayoral candidate, now mayor of Vancouver Tim Leavitt revealed it.
Prop 1 would raise your sales tax for C-TRAN to fund Portland's TriMet MAX light rail.
• Why should Vancouver pay $2.57 million annually to maintain a light rail extension into Vancouver for Portland's TriMet light rail trains?
Light rail does bring crime.
This is not a scare tactic. Crime goes up, more security and police are needed, cost goes up, crime goes back down, new taxes for police and fire follow.
• Due to TriMet's financial trouble, security cutbacks have resulted in rising light rail crime rates.
• Gangs and crime ride into town on MAX, survey finds.
• Sheriff blames crime increase on MAX line.
• Gresham: Ten police officers may be added to MAX line.
• Gresham: Mayor proposes $7.50 monthly fee for Police & Fire.
• Since TriMet has too few security guards monitoring its trains, the city of Gresham is going to have its own police officers patrol the trains.
Portlandís TriMet is broke. Why bring their light rail to Vancouver?
• TriMetís unfunded liability was $832 million as of 2009 and has now grown to 1.3 billion of debt.
• General Managerís Budget Task Force "TriMet is in jeopardy of not meeting its present or future plans because of significant structural problems related to its finances."
• TriMet wants more of Vancouver than just rail to Clark College - They plan to take it all the way back across 205. Who will pay Operation & Maintenance?
The public has not been allowed to vote on this project.
• The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 81.104 on high-capacity transportation (HCT) systems requires voter approval.
The current plan will kill our revitalized downtown Vancouver just as itís blooming.
• It has taken 20 years to revitalize our historical downtown core.
• 7+ year construction zone will kill many or most of small businesses downtown.
• Light rail will turn most of Washington Street and Broadway into a transit mall.
Our C-TRAN is healthy and our bus system is strong.
• Buses are faster, more flexible and one incident does not shut the system down.
• Did TriMet's light rail resolve traffic issues for Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tualatin, Gresham and Clackamas?
• Bus systems are cheaper - Otherwise, why would C-tran be asking for a tax increase to fund light rail?
Light rail in downtown would eliminate too much valuable street parking.
• The light rail couplet eliminates 125 on-street parking spaces and the cost to replace on-street parking with structured parking ranges from $35,000 to $50,000 per space.
• The CRC has three park-and-ride garages slated to be built in downtown Vancouver for light-rail commuters witch are expected to cost $158 million to $176 million.
• Vancouver's parking garages and lots lost about $1.97 million in 2011.
We can not afford the ďlocal contribution.Ē
Look up these cautionary tales about what happens when an infrastructure project goes bad:
• Facing Legal Challenge, Honolulu Halts $5B Light-Rail Project
• Jefferson County, Alabama bankruptcy from $3 billion of sewer bonds
• Stockton, California bankruptcy from bond debt through ill-advised infrastructure projects
• Mammoth Lakes, California bankruptcy resulted from losing a lawsuit over development
• The Big Dig in Boston was the most expensive highway project in the U.S. and was plagued by escalating costs, scheduling overruns, design flaws, criminal arrests and even four deaths. The project was scheduled to be completed in 1998 at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion. The project was not completed until December 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion. The Boston Globe estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion, including interest, and that it will not be paid off until 2038. Traffic returned as a result of induced demand by the increased road capacity just a couple years after completion.
More people work from home than use transit and the trend is growing.
• The unmistakable message of the 2009 American Community Survey from the US Census Bureau shows a 31% increase from 2000 to 2008 in employees that now work at home.
• Working at home has been the fastest growing component of commuting for nearly three decades and has been accomplished with virtually no public investment.
Key Findings from Washington Policy Center
• The November vote is a referendum on light rail.
• If the measure is approved, the sales tax rate in Vancouver will have increased by more than 10% since 2005.
• Ironically, the new tax would subsidize a train to make it easier for people to shop in Portland, harming Washington businesses and undermining current public revenue streams.
• Significant unresolved issues could leave voters responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars more than they are actually voting on.
• Voters do not know whether the tax increase would pay for just their share or Oregonís portion as well.
• Portland TriMet officials have a history of uncontrolled spending, lavish union payouts and a current labor dispute that could spill over to Washington taxpayers, creating major risk and uncertainty.
• The 0.1% sales tax increase raises more money than C-TRAN actually needs for Vancouverís downtown BRT system, resulting in no real savings for taxpayers.
• C-TRANís operating expenses are rising disproportionately faster than ridership; officials should contain these costs and bring operating expenses in line with passenger demand before asking voters for more money.
• The $1.5 Billion Alternative to Milwaukie's Light Rail:
CVTV General Election Coverage
• Video of League of Women Voters town hall meeting on Proposition No. 1. October 9th 2012
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• Common Sense Alternative
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With this evidence, it's hard to ignore that the CRC's plan is bad for Vancouver Washington. During these times of budget shortfalls, debt, growing environmental concerns and a rapidly increasing trend of people working from home, it is painfully clear that freeway expansion, tolls, and light rail is antiquated thinking. Treat the cause, not the symptom. The problem is not the bridge, it is why we cross the bridge. Our efforts would be better spent on promoting local businesses that provide long term job opportunities to attract cross-state commuters to stay closer to home and encourage our residents to spend locally which would strengthen our city and spur more local jobs.
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