Mass Transit Magazine: Divisions emerge in wake of transportation tax defeat

November 10, 2016 – Mass Transit Magazine – The tension over funding freeways versus public transit in San Diego County is ratcheting up following Tuesday’s ballot defeat of a half-cent sales tax that would have provided $18 billion in spending for everything from roads to trolleys to open-space preservation.

Measure A was drafted by the San Diego Association of Governments in part to help cover a projected $5 billion shortfall for projects promised more than a decade ago under a voter-approved extension of the TransNet sales tax.

Environmentalists, progressive labor unions and champions of public transit continued their vow to push back against any tax proposals that would help pay for new freeway expansion — at least until massive investments are made to the county’s infrastructure for other transportation options, including more dedicated bicycling lanes, rail lines and rapid-bus routes.

Nicole Capretz, executive director of the San Diego-based Climate Action Campaign, said progressives and environmentalists — not conservatives — will increasingly drive the conversation about transportation spending in coming years.

“The first priority was defeating the measure, and now we’re going to reconvene and identify solutions moving forward,” Capretz said.

“We need to re-evaluate what it will take to slash our carbon footprint from transportation,” she added. “What will it take to provide a transportation alternative that provides economic opportunities to every family in San Diego? We have to start with that, and then we’ll identify the road map for how to get there.”

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