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Archive for June, 2016

Das Liar

das_liar

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Silicon Valley is supposedly America’s capital of innovation. But its transportation sales tax measure is a huge step backwards. It would spend $3 billion on highway expansions, leaving hardly anything on bikes and transit. According to the environmental group TransForm, the measure performs badly on reducing automobile VMT.

Silicon Valley already suffers from some of the nation’s worst gridlock. Rather than provide transit alternatives, the VTA is proposing further cuts to the bus network. The transportation expenditure plan would lock those cuts in place for the next 2+ decades.

Getting around by bicycle won’t be any easier either, as the plan allocates just 4% of funds for bike/ped infrastructure. Compare to Alameda County, which will be spending 10% of its local funds on bike/ped. Or the upcoming measure in San Luis Obispo county, which would spend 15% of funds on bike/ped projects.

The one big transit capital project is, of course, the BART extension to San Jose. However, the expenditure plan would continue the line out to Santa Clara Caltrain station, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars duplicating the existing Caltrain service.

Speaking of Caltrain, the Caltrain advocates are happy that the expenditure plan includes $1 billion for grade separations and “capacity improvements”. Their joy will probably be short lived as the VTA has always re-purposed Caltrain funds to pay for BART cost overruns.

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Smog Exemption Bill Advances

SB-1239, the Smog Exemption bill, received a unanimous vote in favor by the Appropriations Committee. This is the bill that would exempt older cars from smog checks. Even though it affects a relatively small number of cars, the pollution impacts would still be considerable. An average of 30% of 1976-1981 vehicles failed smog tests.

The Sierra Club, NRDB, BAAQMD, he Lung Association, and the Coalition for Clean Air have all come out against the bill. They point out that California already provides financial assistance to owners high-polluting older cars. The Coalition for Clean Air also notes that:

the smog check program allows for deterioration of the vehicle’s emission controls over time. To pass smog check, owners of older vehicles simply need to maintain their vehicles.

It is ironic that California is considering this bill at the same time it is going after VW for defeat devices. Passing the bill will really undercut the public health arguments California has made in its case against VW.

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