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U.S. 422: If a train is such a great idea….

…then somebody needs to explain this slide to me:

This is from the Draft of the 422Plus slide show that was presented to Governor Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (“TFAC”) yesterday.  Full slide show can be viewed here.

I call your attention to total annual funds needed for Operations and Maintenance of $16.04M and the total annual fare revenue of $3.97M.  If I’m reading this correctly, and someone please tell me if I’m not, a full 85% of the funding for the annual operating and maintenance of the Choo Choo is coming from the state.  So much for a self-sustaining transportation alternative.

We can talk “alternate funding sources” all we like; at the end of the day it’s academic.  There is only ONE funding source:  you and I, the tax payers.  Eventually, no matter what it is that is taxed, it’s you and I that pay for it, either directly or indirectly.  

Some relevant quotes on taxation from the folks who support the additional tax burden to justify the ChooChoo train.  Pottstown Mercury:

Hoeffel said the plan would be funded initially by a $1-billion bond issue, which would be repaid by the tolls, and open in 2015. Hoeffel emphasized the project should be under local management and revenue should remain in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.

“What we raise here should stay here,” Hoeffel said.

The 422 tolling plan could be a model for other roads in the state.

Hoeffel said the plan has not been presented to local governments or the General Assembly, which would need to enact enabling legislation for the plan and bond issue.

The governing bodies “need leadership. I guess the negative way of saying it is, ‘They need cover,’” Hoeffel said.

“What we raise here should stay here,” sounds great in theory but what it means in practice is the creation of a local taxation authority ala the Pennsylvania Turpike Commission and Delaware River Port Authority, institutions famous for their political patronage job creating abilities.

If perhaps you’ve forgotten that the 202 corridor has just benefitted from a half a billion dollars in funding for road improvements, without imposing a toll, I direct your attention to this post.

My favorite quote, though, comes from Carol Rein of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who is apparently an expert on road tolling mechanisms and claims that Texas and Florida have the best tolling and transportation funding programs around the country. Her quote is especially jarring:

“You have to pick taxes that are hard to evade, so you can predict their collectibility,”

June 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm Comment (1)

422 Tolling: Elites who run our lives think it is the messaging and not the message

The pipe dream of the Delaware Valley Regional Rail Line running from Reading to King of Prussia and points east is breathing one last gasp with a marketing campaign aimed at convincing 422 motorists that, yes, indeedy, they really DO want to add insult to injury and pay a tax to sit in insufferable traffic twice a day. The misdirection involved here is that tolling 422 will fund the supposedly critical rail line which in turn will alleviate traffic on the road by getting people out of their cars and into the train.

Make no mistake, the focus here is on getting the rail line built, not alleviating traffic. Mercury:

Given that those examining this idea freely acknowledge they can find no viable alternative for funding the long-delayed rail line; or other improvements to the road which now carries some 45,000 vehicles through Pottstown daily and reaches 110,000 a day by the time the road crosses the Schuylkill River at Valley Forge, it should come as little surprise that those videos show people who support the idea of implementing a toll.

So if this is the success supporters of the toll are hoping for, then the funding will eventually dry up as people opt to commute via rail instead of via auto.

Right?

Ok, everybody knows that that isn’t going to happen. People love their cars. So what this is going to do is actually give more people access to the 422 corridor who wouldn’t ordinarily have it. This is not a bad thing, but it’s important to point out that this is not what this marketing campaign is promoting; it is promoting tolls as a means to alleviate traffic.

The other focal point of this campaign is that the money will be used to fund improvements to the road.

Alan Piper, transportation planner the Berks County Planning Commission, pointed out that the road is not truly free.

Drivers have “always paid for that road in terms of their gas taxes, in their vehicle registration and in their license fees,” he noted, adding “and what they’re buying is a road that is crowded and in terrible condition. And we can’t make improvements based on the revenue stream that’s coming in now.”

I’m glad you bring that up, Alan. Whatever happened to those funding streams? Where is THAT money and why isn’t it enought? And specifically, what are the “improvements” planned? Seeing as how we have been tortured for the last year with the Obama Union Jobs Program American Recovery and Reinvestment never-ending stimulus-funded paving project, what improvements are we talking about? Another two lanes? Wouldn’t that make the paving project a big waste?

Whatever happened to truth in advertising?

Given the vocal response to the mere suggestion of 422 tolling, if public opinion carries any weight at all, this is something that is not going to happen, especially in the current atmosphere of public mistrust of government. After all, we residents of the outer suburbs are not completely oblivious to the fact that there just so happens to be a regional rail line leading from the inner suburbs into Philadelphia and yet there still seems to be an inordinate amount of traffic on the Schuykill Expressway. Furthermore, SEPTA is heavily subsidized by state tax dollars. Do we really want to create another unsustainable and marginally accountable government run entity (see: Turnpike Commission, DVPA) with an infrastructure staffed by overpaid unionized transportation workers?

I think not. No tolls on 422.

November 18, 2010 at 7:42 am Comments (0)

Flyers Finish Devils, Sens Stay Alive Against Pens

The Flyers shutout the Devils last night to become the first team to advance to round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Penguins played a marathon triple overtime match against the Senators in which Sens’ goaltender Pascal LeClaire played the game of his life and stole a win for his team. Despite allowing three goals, he definitely earned his spot as the number one star of the game for stopping 56 shots on goal.

The Penguins played well, but some momentary sloppiness in the first period resulted in them having to dig their way out of a 0-2 hole. They will need to be focused for all 20 minutes of every period on Saturday if they expect to finish off the Senators in Ottawa and avoid Game 7.

April 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm Comments (0)

Reading: America’s Poorest City

ZeroHedge:

the wealthiest city in the US according to Portfolio, Newport Beach, has more than a quarter of its residentshouseholds making over $200,000. On the other end of the spectrum is Reading, PA, whose 80,000 households have an average per capita income of $14,120 (of half the national average), and none makes over $200,000.

February 28, 2010 at 10:34 pm Comments (0)