Light Rail, Light Heat

Greg Harman

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While Gov Perry struggles to figure out how to score the most political points by criticizing the federal attempt to bailout working Texans (now why didn't the banks have these problems?), your diligent state rep, Mike Villarreal, has moved forward with a plan to allow San Antonio voters the ability to tax themselves into the light-rail era.

Filed late Monday, HB1674 would allow Bexar County to:

“acquire, construct, develop, own, operate, and maintain passenger rail, transit, roadway, and freight rail facilities and sidewalks, hiking trails and biking trails”

and pay for it with:

  • increased vehicle registration or driver's license fees (not to exceed $150 or $50, respectively)
  • a tax on how far you drive, how large your vehicle, or how much soot it spits out
  • or (my personal favorite) a roadway impact fee socking it those coming in from out-of-state

Anyone who has sat in on any recent transportation discussions, knows that along with the talk of shotgun transport marriages (VIA hearts the RMA; MPO hearts AACOG) is an enthusiasm for mass transit fixes â?? especially since the release of the Hardberger-Wolff Transpo Task Force's recommendations last month.

Villareal appears to be carrying the bucket on this march into greener pastures. His press release speaks of a “looming crisis” in San Antonio's transportation infrastructure â?? that federal transportation cutbacks are expected to short the county $19 billion by 2030.

“Low-income families are hit the hardest with the cost of commuting, and are particularly susceptible to fluctuations in gas prices,” a press release sent out Monday reads. “With gas prices expected to reach $4 per gallon again, local leaders are searching for long-term solutions.”

If the choice is between building new highways for every Juan, Dick, and Harry subdevelopment or mas mass transit, I'll opt for mass.

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