The big news is that it looks like the gas tax increase is the whole plan, and Corbett is only looking to raise $1.9 billion for transportation. That’s a full $1 billion short of the $2.9 billion his transportation funding panel was tasked to come up with.
There’s some even worse news on how that funding breaks down though. Transit is only getting $250 million.
Mr. Costa said the governor’s plan would devote an additional $1.2 billion to state-owned roads and bridges; $250 million more to mass transit; $200 million more for local roads and bridges; and $75 million to a multimodal fund that would include airports, railroads and trails.
It also would provide $85 million for the Pennsylvania Turnpike to build slip ramps to industrial sites and to advance the Southern Beltway, a proposed toll road that would connect Pittsburgh International Airport with the Mon-Fayette Expressway in Washington County and add a leg to the expressway from Jefferson Hills to Monroeville.
To give you an idea of how ridiculously low that is, SEPTA alone has a $4.7 billion backlog of state of good repair projects. That’s just to keep stuff from breaking down. SEPTA is already closing some popular routes due to fears about structurally unsound bridges.
The local funding option in here is also a joke, with Corbett asking counties to contribute a 20% match to state funding rather than 15%. That is not nearly good enough. Transit agencies need to have the power to raise their own dedicated taxes from the county taxpayers in their service areas, whether that’s land taxes on transit-served land, payroll taxes, whatever. Clearly transit agencies can’t rely on the state to deliver, so the second best option is for the state to get out of the way and let metro regions make up the funding shortage.