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New report outlines ways to improve California's public transit system

A research fellow at the University of California-Berkeley and UCLA schools of law has issued a report that outlines steps California policymakers and businesses can take to improve the state’s “chronically underfunded” public transit system, according to a prepared statement issued by UCLA.

If improved, the system could more effectively address unemployment, high fuel costs and the long commutes that many Californians face, said Ethan Elkind, the report’s author and a climate change research fellow.

The report, titled “All Aboard: How California Can Increase Investment in Public Transit,” describes the benefits passenger rail, buses and shuttle services provide to the state. Residents in California’s major metro areas spend as much as two full days per year in traffic, according to a study cited in the report. Conversely, rail and bus services can reduce each household’s driving by as much as 4,400 miles per year.

Since 2001, more than $4 billion in state transit funds have been diverted to non-transit services, the report states. Elkind recommends that policymakers “expand and capitalize” on existing revenue schemes; explore measures to lower the voter approval threshold for transit-related taxes, assessments and bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent; and promote land use policies to spark greater use of neighborhood transit services.

“A good public transit system can create jobs, reduce commute time and expenses, and encourage smarter development that gives people more mobility and housing options,” he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/13/2011