San Bernardino County voters recently turned down a proposed sales tax increase which would have gone solely to fund more streets and highways. This ill-conceived proposal was placed on the ballot by the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), which concluded that the only answer to the transportation mess and poor air quality in the county was to build more lanes for more vehicles. It's not surprising that many voters decided this "solution" would only, in time, add to the problem.
Ironically, SANBAG'S own voter poll should have told them that county voters were looking for more creative solutions, including a commuter rail system to Los Angeles and better local transit. SANBAG chose to ignore poll results which indicated that 65% of county voters indicated there was a great need or some need for commuter rail, while a whopping 62% said they would be more likely to support the sales tax increase if commuter rail was one of the projects to be funded. Instead, SANBAG put all of its eggs in one basket, and the voters said no.
There's still time to reassess the situation. State Sen. Ruben Ayala (D-Chino) has resurrected his decade-old plans for commuter rail. The Santa Fe Railway has offered to sell one of its rail lines to a public agency for this purpose. Extra commuter cars are available in San Francisco. Assemblyman Gerald Eaves (D-Rialto) sits on the Transportation Committee in Sacramento and is in the right place to make things happen. SANBAG should be instructed to develop a new transportation plan, balanced between highway and transit expenditures. Next time, perhaps the voters will be convinced that it's worth voting for.
DANIEL B. LOVEGREN
Train Riders' Assn. of Calif.