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Home > Letters & Commentary > Subsidies influence transportation choices

Tax subsidizes drivers

by Frank Nilsen

Published May 18, 2004 in the Ventura County Star, Letters to the Editor section of the Opinion page.

Re: your May 8 article, "Transit panel to seek OK for tax hike":

We, the people of Ventura County, are learning more about a proposed half-cent transportation sales tax that the county's so-called "transit panel" wants to slip onto this November's election ballot.

Referring to the Ventura County Transportation Commission as a "transit panel" suggests that the tax is for public transportation, but this misrepresents the facts. Only 20 percent of the proposed tax is to be spent on transit, which the county now defines as not just buses and trains, but pedestrians and bicycles too. All of these modes will share a mere fraction of the total revenue, leaving 80 percent of the tax free and clear for road projects, such as widening Highway 23 for $42 million. This kind of skewed spending amounts to nothing short of public subsidies for car-and-driver.

Ventura County is failing federal clean air standards, and, according to the Air Pollution Control District, cars are the main reason. Increasing roads by number and size will only worsen our air quality, and the notion that added roads will solve our traffic problems is a myth. More roads invite more cars perpetuating an endless spiral of more traffic, more roads and more pollution until Ventura County looks and breathes (coughs) like Los Angeles -- and the quality of life we know and love disappears for good.

Unless the VCTC adopts a sensible policy for managing traffic, one that provides real opportunities to use cars less, this county resident and taxpayer will vote no on any new sales tax initiative for transportation.

Asking taxpayers to subsidize car use far beyond all other transportation options is unfair, short sighted and an expensive attempt to solve Ventura County's traffic woes -- and it won't work.

Frank Nilsen

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