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'Unraveling the Transportation Knot'

April 28, 1985

In a column by Bruce Nestande, chairman of the state Transportation Commission ("Unraveling the Transportation Knot," April 14), it was stated, "The choice is clear: We improve and enhance our transportation financing system or face gridlock." We agree. The Orange County Transit District believes, however, that the solution to gridlock is a multifaceted transportation system that makes the most productive and efficient use of all resources.

The transit district is planning a network of freeway lanes for high occupancy vehicles which will cost around $400 million.

OCTD is prepared to help finance this new construction because of good financial planning. OCTD's capital account is not a "fat surplus." Rather, it is a result of the prudent planning of Orange County taxpayers' dollars that can now be used as seed money with state, federal and private dollars to pay for the major new transportation investment we need.

Nestande's column cited a letter from Caltrans Director Leo Trombatore that compared highway funding data from different time periods. Using data from different time periods distorts the analysis and the resulting percentage breakdown by mode is not truly representative of what actually took place.

A recent letter from the California Transportation Commission provides a more realistic comparison. These latest figures show transit funding as 34% of the total transportation funds, not the 48% previously quoted. However, even this new comparison does not tell us the whole story.

Dollars for streets and highways are understated because funds from the 1983 federal fuel tax increase are not included in Trombatore's figures and city general funds and overhead costs are not totally accounted for. The percentage of total dollars spent for transit is more likely 20%.

To compare how we are spending tax dollars we should use numbers that truly represent what is actually taking place.


General Manager

Orange County Transit District

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