Mercury New supports Measure ABy Editorial staff
Do you believe San Jose and Silicon Valley need better roads and mass transit -- and need be linked to the other major Bay Area cities by BART?
If you do, vote yes on Measure A.
It will be up to the county supervisors to decide how to spend the half-cent sales tax Measure A would raise, but the campaign on its behalf is calling for about half of the amount to be spent on transportation. The supervisors no doubt would update county expressways and work to improve bus service, which primarily serves lower-income residents. But BART is the elephant in the room.
In 2000, voters passed a half-cent sales tax for transit based on the promise to build BART to San Jose and Santa Clara. The tax won more than 70 percent approval -- but then the bubble burst. Projections were overly optimistic from the start, but nobody forecast the plunge in revenue from which this county still has not recovered. So, we are left with an overwhelming vote of confidence in BART, but insufficient funds to make it happen.
To win federal and state financing, VTA needs to put up more of its own money than it can today. Without a new revenue source, the chances of winning matching funds and completing the line range from slim to none.
Opponents of Measure A are opponents of BART. Why should voters approve another tax, they ask, when the promise of 2000 was broken?
To see why, look 30 years into the future. If, by then, a BART line runs through downtown San Jose and links to the airport, nobody will be saying: "Man, was that ever a stupid thing to build." But if we fail to invest today, our children someday will look back and wonder how we could have been so short-sighted. It's what we say now about the failure to bring BART down the Peninsula decades ago.
Santa Clara County voters have approved three transportation tax measures since 1984. The road and transit projects those measures promised have been mostly completed, on time and on budget -- improving Highway 101, building Highway 85, creating a light-rail system from scratch. Only the 2000 measure is falling short of its promise, a victim of the irrational exuberance that characterized the time.
The goals of that 2000 measure remain valid. To fulfill them, vote yes on this June's Measure A.
Copyright ©2006 San Jose Mercury News. Published 05/07/2006.