Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Fight for Foresight

A letter to the editor of Good Times

Twin Lakes State Beach in Santa Cruz. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

The 6-6-split vote on moving forward with passenger rail was completely disappointing. We need passenger rail. Traffic will get worse! No doubt.

There is one point that people just do not understand. There is very little that can ever be done to alleviate traffic on Highway 1. No amount of trail, train, or tantrums will ever reduce traffic on this infamous highway. “Induced demand” tells us that once capacity and/or alternatives are introduced, there will always be drivers waiting to fill the empty space. Always! Do you remember when the Morrissey auxiliary lane was going to be the saving grace? Exactly eight months went by before southbound traffic was back to a standstill. If you add more lanes, it will only lead to more cars in gridlock stinking up the county with tailpipe emissions.

We need to abandon Highway 1, leave it as is, and quit thinking we can improve the situation. We have a good passenger rail and trail plan that has been hijacked by people who live in Santa Cruz and work in Santa Clara. They worked hard to derail the plan for their own selfish reasons. Don’t be fooled! The passenger rail works for people who live and work in Santa Cruz County by linking every single town on our coast with a transportation alternative. As housing prices increase, more of our service industry workers will need to live in south county and commute. The Trail Now group is led by an Aptos resident who commutes to Santa Clara. He does not care about the needs of local residents. He wants a 32-miles long dog park and gentrification trail.

As Covid restrictions are lifting we can all see how bad the traffic is now. It isn’t even summer yet and it’s nuts. What do you think it will look like in 10, 20, or 50 years from now? The beauty of the train is that those who take it will never have to sit in traffic. Fight for foresight!

Dave Faulkner | Felton

This letter does not necessarily reflect the views of Good Times.

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  1. frank rimicci

    May 5, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    What a pity it would be to waste this resource and the millions for the studies and grants and improvements already made. To those Who plan Their lives around traffic, including the beach visitors, Who can deny the many the chance for an alternative to appease the few? I want trails too but not at the expense of tossing Our chance to impact the climate EMERGENCY and the opportunity to choose rail over the gridlock. I hope the SCCRTC has the foresight to implement modern clean light rail. Bring Our county and state together. Keep the rail, build the trail. Don’t be hoodwinked by the property interests that would gain the easement rights. E-mail comments to the SCCRTC in support of rail and trail. You can make change for a better future happen. True progress only occurs when People dare to make it real. Best to You, Frank Rimicci Jr.

  2. Barry Scott

    April 29, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Thanks, Dave!

    Every study conducted leads to the same conclusion, nothing provides a greater return on transportation investment than implementing transit on the existing active rail line. Improvements to the entire line cost less than a few miles of added highway lanes, and can be done much sooner.

    Best of all, the current plan requires clean electric powered vehicles including streetcar types that are more affordable and a much better aesthetic fit than earlier technologies. I urge voters to read the business plan details and to look forward to a demonstration of a battery-electric streetcar later this year. http://www.coastfutura.org

    Business plan: https://sccrtc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/TCAA_RNIS-Passenger-Rail-Business-Plan-DRAFT.pdf

  3. Don Honda

    April 28, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    My letter to our local RTC.

    Dear Commissioners,

    The Business Plan makes it quite clear that new rail service on the Branch Line will be very expensive with little payoff in terms of low ridership estimates, longer estimated commute times (without including first/last mile connecting transportation), very little reduction of current traffic congestion, and dubious resources for about half the estimated expenses (which we all know will skyrocket if a new rail service scenario is approved).

    It is quite clear that RTC staff knows that about 50% of alternative funding would be available only if Santa Cruz County provides matching funds as in another sales tax, property tax, DMV fees, tolls, etc. It is also quite clear that RTC staff knows that this would be a hard sell hence their suggestion of a massive PR campaign and social media cheerleading. RTC staff knows that there is very little “free” money” for this project.

    Through all the past studies and meetings of the RTC, the motivation is apparent of just wanting to connect to a statewide, if not a nationwide, possible rail service despite professed goals of “equity”, “environment”, and “economy”. This is banking on many ifs, ands, or buts and very little to do with reality, even with a new federal administration. The RTC knows already that our Branch Line cannot accommodate a fantasy rail service by looking at less and less efficient models while ignoring the will of the people. The BRT has been completely ignored despite it having many of the pluses of a possible new rail service while being more flexible, cheaper to build, more efficient, proven technology, more runs, more routes, lower fares with higher ridership numbers, able to use alternate fuel sources, level boarding, and space for bike storage, and most importantly, can use current funds from Measure D thus needing no new projected funding sources.

    Please stop ignoring the will of the people. Please don’t try to circumvent that will by using a tax/fee referendum on new rail by seeking to lower 2/3s voter approval down to 55% or simple majority. Please stop wasting taxpayer dollars on chasing a desired fantasy. Please stop throwing good money after bad. Please stop pursuing a “sunk cost fallacy.”

    The will of the people of being against new rail service have been shown a few times through just one petition of 10,000 signatures and replacing a commission seat with a new supervisor. The contrived “surveys” and “studies” commissioned by the RTC and FORT are obviously biased with a pre-determined outcome, using a “push poll” technique. Even then the numbers and impact are still flaccid and not impressive in showing widespread support.

    The SCCRTC has failed its mission statement by obstructing road and Hwy 1 improvement, being disappointing in design and execution of current “trail” construction, failure to develop a working Rideshare Program.

    It’s not too late to gain support of the people by stopping this fantasy new rail project.

    Don Honda

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