Texas TURF

  • Link to article here.

    Failure of transit programs prompts renewed call to end federal gas tax diversions
    Federal Highway Administration reports a 3.5% increase in vehicle miles traveled in 2015. Yet, 28% of federal surface transportation funds (which primarily originate from federal gasoline taxes) are diverted from highways to public transit. It’s high time this raid of road funds ends. If local cities want mass transit, they should pay for it with local taxes, not raid federal road dollars to waste on transit systems with little to no riders.
    By Terri Hall | June 6, 2016
    Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research

    When you digest the latest report on public transit by Steven Polzin of the University of South Florida, it deals a fatal blow to the philosophy, ‘If you build it, they will come.’

    The report notes a 1.3% – 2.5% decline in transit ridership in 2015. But perhaps the most damaging figure is that transit ridership has remained flat for 45 years. That’s a pretty stubborn figure. Contrary to the narrative of transit advocates, overall ridership has also remained flat despite fluctuations in the price of gasoline. Meanwhile, transit supply has exploded while demand for transit has remained the same and even declined (despite lack of car ownership among millennials, urbanization, and the high cost of car ownership). So, after spending billions in taxpayer dollars on shiny new buses and rail cars, government has little to show for it in terms of actual riders.

    By contrast, the Federal Highway Administration reports a 3.5% increase in vehicle miles traveled in 2015. Yet, 28% of federal surface transportation funds (which primarily originate from federal gasoline taxes) are diverted from highways to public transit. It’s high time this raid of road funds ends. If local cities want mass transit, they should pay for it with local taxes, not raid federal road dollars to waste on transit systems with little to no riders just to satisfy their anti-automobile and anti-petroleum ideology.
  • Link to article here.

    Texas’ first foreign-owned toll road handed to its creditors

    By Terri Hall
    August 15, 2016
    Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research

    It was so predictable. The people of Texas revolted against former Governor Rick Perry’s grand network of toll roads, once dubbed the Trans Texas Corridor, and many grassroots groups that sprung up to oppose it predicted its eventual demise. The press, always eager to jump on the ribbon cuttings, seldom show you the angling inside bankruptcy court, yet that’s where State Highway 130 Concession Company ended up. As part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry ceded the delinquent toll project to its creditors Friday.

    The southern 41-mile stretch of SH 130, a bypass designed to avoid Austin traffic from Mustang Ridge to Seguin, opened with much fanfare in November of 2012, including an appearance by Perry who hailed this first public private partnership (or P3) as highway nirvana and ‘visionary.’ But crony capitalism is as old as dirt and taxpayers didn’t see it as anything other than graft.
  • A broad coalition of conservative grassroots leaders across Texas joined together to askGovernor Greg Abbott, Lt Gov Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, and Senate and House Transportation Committee members to support their top two pro-taxpayer toll road reforms this session. Removing tolls from the road once the debt is retired and toll collection/billing reform to cap outrageous toll fines and fees and decriminalize an unpaid toll bill, top the list for the session. Nearly 170 different grassroots leaders/influencers joined Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and Texans for Toll-free Highways (TTH) in calling for these priorities to pass this session. 

    When TxDOT has put over two million Texas drivers into collections over unpaid toll bills, it's way past time to cap fines and fees and stop impounding cars, blocking vehicle registration and making ordinary citizens criminals over toll unpaid bills that often accumulate in error or through gimmicks used by toll agencies to rack up fines that far exceed the toll actually owed. Also, with drivers reaching toll fatigue more than 5 years ago and facing the realities of a pandemic-induced down economy, now more than ever Texas drivers deserve to know the end date on paying tolls on the state's 28 different toll systems and have insurance against these systems expanding forever into perpetuity (which actually violates the Texas Constitution Art. I, Sec. 26). Just as the Cesar Chavez (El Paso) and Camino Colombia (Laredo) toll roads had the tolls removed, so should the state's other toll roads. This hidden runaway tax scheme must end!

    TURF and TTH's complete legislative agenda for the session can be found here.

    Read the coalition letter here.
  • The Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization, the body created by the Legislature to guide transportation planning in the San Antonio area, is moving forward with a plan to construct the long-awaited expansion of Loop 1604 on San Antonio's north side without resorting to toll lanes, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

    MPO Chair Kevin Wolff told News Radio 1200 WOAI and KLRN-TV's 'On the Record' that he is pushing for a vote of the MPO to change direction on the long awaited project.

    "We will essentially be passing a resolution asking TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Commission to, instead of doing 1604 as a toll, give us the $500 million needed to complete that project, which is our most congested portion in the entire county, from Bandera Rd. to I-35," Wolff said.

  • Link to article here.
     
    San Antonio plans for light rail despite voter opposition
    By Kenric Ward
    August 17, 2016
    Watchdog.org
     
    Despite repeated defeats at the polls, a controversial light rail system remains in San Antonio’s planning documents.
     
    City officials say, “It is important not to rule out any method or mode of transportation.”
     
    National transportation expert Randal O’Toole retorts, “I suspect that they have ruled out dirigibles, helicopters and pod cars. Rail should be ruled out for the same reason: It is expensive and few will use it.”
     
    “It’s not really about rail or offering commuters options, it’s about rent-seeking developers looking for their next handout, courtesy of San Antonio taxpayers,” said Terri Hall, founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom.

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