Here are some good reasons to vote NO on Caltrain’s proposed Sales Tax increase by March 3, 2020, if you can.
1. Caltrain decided to pursue a Sales Tax increase rather than any other type of tax, such as on large corporations or wealthy landowners, with no public discussion whatsoever, and with no analysis whatsoever of the relative financial impacts on various groups such as low-income residents of different types of taxes.
2. This new Caltrain Sales Tax is really a stealth tax for highway traffic capacity expansions such as widening Highway 101 with new toll lanes. Caltrain would have plenty of funding for rail service improvements if only the agency would stop dumping so much tax money into highway expansions. 2018 Measure W, 2018 Regional Measure 3, 2017 Senate Bill 1 Gasoline Tax, 2004 Measure A, and other measures allocate billions of dollars to highways rather than funding Caltrain or bus service.
3. Caltrain/SamTrans/SMCTA has long proven its inability to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and this inability is directly tied to the agency’s corrupt and dysfunctional governance structure in which Boards of Directors members are hand-picked by politicians and agency staff members rather than being chosen in direct elections as the BART and AC Transit Boards are.
4. Caltrain and the Sales Tax’s corporate backers are lying to public to boost flagging public support and even tested the effectiveness of specific false and misleading promises of what the tax will deliver: reduced traffic congestion and cleaner air. Both false but purposefully written into Caltrain’s promotional messaging just to win votes.
5. Caltrain’s rail service is a lower priority for taxpayer investment than a number of other transportation services, most notably bus service. While the Caltrain stations are located in city centers near a large number of businesses and residences, the service is still fixed only to these stations. Bus services can be expanded everywhere, since bus stops can be placed nearly anywhere on any public street. Caltrain also only serves a small socioeconomic segment of the population – mostly wealthy passengers, as their median annual income is over $130,000. Thus Caltrain excludes low income residents, women, and people of color from its “public” rail service due both to high fares but also station locations in expensive downtown areas. Bus service on the other hand is more affordable and therefore available to many more residents.