people paid for their transportation like they they pay for their
food, it would be a lot easier to understand transportation funding,
and to understand why thre are so few choices left for them. Although government intervenes in all sectors of the economy,
the transportation sector receives far more intervention than
the food sector.
The Funding Game
funding is a complex web of money, taxes, and fees that is determined
and handled at all government levels. Ostensibly, the rules are
set up to assure that tax funds will be distributed equitably
and will be spent efficiently, and that the requests for government funds
will be limited to what is actually available. But there are other reasons as well, that generally
involve pleasing one group of constituents at the expense of other
groups groups being transportation users, or taxpayers,
or manufacturers or many others the list is endless.
put together a new transportation project, or to keep past projects
running, the proponents must understand what they must say or
do to draw funds from the "buckets" or accounts in which
they are held. The "spigots" through which the funds flow from the buckets are complex combinations of rules of approval.
the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, funding is largely controlled
by the MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission). MTC provides
some helpful information on funding at http://www.mtc.dst.ca.us/funding.htm . Specifically, it has a web publication, "Moving
Costs: A Transportation Funding Guide for the San Francisco
Bay Area" that is worth reading. It is particularly useful
for anyone not yet familiar with the alphabet soup of transportation
A quantitative overview
can be obtained from some graphs used by MTC in public presentations.
They show declining purchasing power of State and Federal fuel
taxes, expected increases in population and travel, and a breakdown
of future Bay Area expenditures on transportation.