I think this is true only because we've subsidized ourselves in to the idea that every family can and should have a home of their own, and certainly of a certain size. If we operate under the guise that transit can only ever be subsidized because ridership per line will never be high enough to cover costs, then yes you are right. But ideally (and it works elsewhere in the world so it's not that outrageous to propose) property taxes in the areas served would be high enough return to fund a large portion of the capital costs of building transit lines, requiring a much smaller amount of funding from state/federal sources. Ridership would be high because it would be the natural choice for the people living there and would therefore cover operating costs. We're trying so desperately to overlay a certain transportation type on a region that simply cannot financially support it, and scratching our heads how to fund it.David Greene wrote:This is the kind of thinking that keeps our transit system from progressing. We don't live in the ivory tower. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Show me politically how to ensure reliable, adequate transit funding from the general fund and I'll be all for it. We've tried that experiment for 50 years and it's been an abject failure.
Property taxes are highly regressive and more importantly, people are literally abandoning houses because they can't afford the taxes anymore. That stream is tapped out. We'd never get an income tax dedicated to transit past the legislature. Bonding can't fund transit operations.
Believe me, many people have looked at many different ways of funding transit in our state. The sales tax is the only viable solution.
This basically comes down to land-use and stopping subsidizing home and car ownership to get to a point where those things naturally occur. I recognize that we live in a world where this wouldn't realistically occur for 30 years, even if we try. But if we don't make these changes now, we will continue to debate and fight for funding and revenue sources forever. If we need a short-term, here and now change (and I agree we do), can't we start pulling property tax relief from unproductive areas or the higher income population and put it towards building better transit instead of adding to the sales/property/income tax rates?