Circulate SD propose MTS ballot measure, could generate $10 billion
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Transportation advocacy group Circulate San Diego suggested Wednesday that a tax on Metropolitan Transit System bus and trolley routes could generate a little more than $10 billion over 40 years for local infrastructure improvements.
Circulate released a report expanding on its methodology behind the tax and how it differs from previous failed attempts to pay for local infrastructure projects. The revenue from the tax would only be used for projects within MTS boundaries, according to the report.
Circulate’s proposed MTS tax would account for SANDAG’s $4 billion overestimate of how much revenue 2016’s failed Measure A would have actually generated had it passed, $14 billion.
According to Circulate, the $10.4 billion revenue estimate is a conservative one, taking into account that MTS services roughly 75 percent of the county’s population.
“Our report is a roadmap to help MTS put forward the strongest possible transportation ballot measure to attract the support of voters,” said Circulate San Diego Executive Director Colin Parent.
The report dovetails from the San Diego Association of Governments’ past attempts to pay for repairs and upgrades to the county’s transit infrastructure, including Measure A and TransNet, a half-cent sales tax that county residents voted to extend in 2004.
Post-mortem reporting on both ballot initiatives and internal documents revealed that SANDAG inflated expected revenue totals or understated how much transportation projects would cost. SANDAG told voters that the TransNet extension would bring in roughly $14 billion. The agency now estimates it will only bring in about $9 billion for infrastructure projects.
Circulate’s report also includes suggestions for initiative guidelines for the measure like a firm timeline of projects that may give it sturdier footing than Measure A and the TransNet extension.
As far as projects, Circulate suggested the revenue could be used to build an MTS trolley line connecting Kearny Mesa and San Ysidro, enhance MTS’ rapid bus transit system and partially fund a long-awaited trolley line connecting the city to the San Diego International Airport.
Circulate’s report advised MTS to aim for the November 2020 ballot should the agency choose to go forward with the ballot measure. The 2020 ballot, Circulate argued, would give MTS the best chance of reaching the necessary two-thirds voter approval needed for tax increases seeing as it will be a presidential election and voter turnout will be higher.
“MTS has the opportunity to reinvest $10 billion in local revenue to improve our transportation network, and create good paying local jobs, and we look forward to working with MTS to ensure the proposal does just that,” said Southwest Carpenters spokesman Armando Nunez, who joined Circulate to announce the report’s release.