July 15, 2004
Group Seeks to Stop The
This afternoon Thursday,
July 15th, at 2pm,
an aggressive group of protesters against the proposed ‘Sprinter” rail line
plans on appearing at the North County Transit District Meeting.
Opponents are urged to
speak out against what organizers call a “boondoggle.”
Organizers argue the
California has withdrawn $80 million in funding so NCTD simply went to SANDAG
and persuaded them to “lend” the $80 million plus shortfall.
Organizers are also
urging opponents to contact their elected representatives to let them know how
widespread and how strongly felt the opposition to The Sprinter is.
Oppenents argue that for
the cost to build and operate the Sprinter, based on current projections, NCTD
could lease a new Ford Taurus every three years for every new rider projected to
use the Sprinter.
The Sprinter originally
started out as a $31 million project, and it has since escalated to $351
million, but will likely top out at $1 billion. Congressman Darrell Issa stated
that there was an excellent chance that this project will double.
Ed Gallo said, “wow! I hadn’t heard that figure. It sounds like an
exaggeration to me. However, costs have gone up astronomically. There was a
16.5% increase in steel just last month. I’d like to see some more information
concerning that allegation.”
Opponents are very
concerned about spending $351 million (a 2001 cost projection) of taxpayer money
on a 19th century technology (rail) that will only reduce peak hour traffic by
250 cars on Highway 78. This cost is only an estimate, and doesn’t include the
approximately $570 million more dollars (NCTD projection) to mitigate traffic,
at-grade safety/congestion, and noise problems caused by the Sprinter.
The NCTD, they argue,
purposely did not include this additional cost in the estimates for the rail
line, leaving the impacted cities to seek funding separately.
Light rail projects are
typically over budget, they say.
San Jose, after a billion
dollar investment in light rail, is now facing a 200 million dollar operating
deficit. The San Jose
area transit agency plans to reduce bus and light rail service by 40%.
light rail project was used by NCTD to help predict the Sprinter’s ridership.
San Jose’s Vice
Mayor Pat Dando recently stated “We have invested a billion dollars and we don’t
want to pull the plug carelessly, but how long do we carry the light rail system
if it is not serving the needs of the people?” (L.A.Times June 1st 2003).
Councilman Gallo: “Well,
with the dot.com collapse they saw a drastic decline in real estate values as
well as riders. There are a lot of other factors to consider that don’t always
show up. We in north county are a more diverse economy. If one industry fails,
it won’t kill us.”
Opponents cite a quote of
NCTD Board Member David Drucker, who said “Whether or not the project is
"cost-effective" is not an issue”, (North County Times
They ask, “are we facing
a “San Jose”
scenario somewhere down the financial tracks? NCTD is “banking” on us voters to
extend the ˝ cent “Transnet” tax in 2004 by a 2/3 rd’s vote to support the
operations of the Sprinter. What if that does not happen?”
“That’s a very good question. I’d like to hear some answers to that question
The Sprinter will not
relieve traffic congestion on Highway 78, they argue.
They argue the North
County Transit District has “cooked the books” to try and make this project
appear as a “congestion relief” project, when the reality is it will add to
surface street congestion at most of the 30 at- grade crossings in the 22 mile
According to the
San Diego County Grand
Jury report of 2001/2002, “As presently planned, this proposed light rail line
may not provide any significant relief to traffic congestion in the area.”
The report states “it
will still only remove less than 3% of the new travel on the Highway 78
The Orange County Grand
Jury studied Light Rail and had this to say: “Twelve new light rail lines have
been built in the
U.S. over the past 18 years. Unhappily, they have provided virtually no
reduction of traffic congestion and, consequently, no reduction in air
pollution. The percentage of people using transit to get to work has declined in
all major metropolitan areas, and the decline has been as significant in the
metropolitan areas that built light rail as in the ones that did not.”
The Sprinter is not a
It is a heavy diesel
burning train that travels up to 55 mph (trolley’s travel 35 mph) past 4 schools
and through 30 at grade intersections, the group argues. Somewhat ruefully, the
oppenents say, “it is called the Sprinter because it has to sprint between 15
stops in 22 miles in order to make the trip in slightly over an hour.” They
also argue that noise is a factor, claiming that residents along the Sprinter
corridor will hear an 85 decibel Sprinter horn 72 times a day, from
As to safety, they cite
as an example, the Blue Line in LA County -- like the proposed Sprinter -- a 22
mile commuter rail line -- has averaged five fatalities every year since the
rail line opened.
School children who
currently cross the existing railroad tracks where slow moving freight trains
only run late at night, will be defenseless targets of these diesel trains that
will run every 15 minutes and “sprint” up to 50MPH.
The opponents claim to be
in favor of mass rapid transit, but they claim bus rapid transit is less
expensive to build, safer, and more flexible for future needs.
Bus rapid transit is the
choice for I-15, but was never considered as an alternative. Councilman Gallo
agrees, “we’ll have Bus Rapid Transit on I-15. It did not seem practical to
have a train attempt to climb the steep hills at
Pomerado Road and I-15.
It was felt that buses could handle that more adequately.”
Gallo did acknowledge
that the opponents to the light rail system raised some excellent points. “The
cost of steel is a major issue. It has added $14 million to our public safety
bond issue that we are presently studying. It may well have an impact on the
Sprinter project. I’m open to examining further information.”
The opponents are hoping
other legislators can be persuaded to examine the issue and are urging
constitutents to contact their legislators or attend the NCTD Board meeting
today, July 15,
2004 @ 2:00 P.M.
Supervisor Bill Horn -
5th District Representative
phone: (619) 531-5515
Councilman Ed Gallo -
City of Escondido
201 N. Broadway,
Deputy Mayor Jack Feller
- City of
Vice Mayor Mike Preston
The City of
San Marcos, Community
Services invites area talent to come to audition for a role in The Cabaret Show
to be held on the Hearth Theatre outdoor stage.
The audition will be held
at the Community Center,
3 Civic Center Drive on
Saturday, July 31st at 10 AM. Acts need to be pre-rehearsed and ready to
perform at the audition. Please come prepared to perform on stage including
music, costumes, and props. Music accompaniment can include CD, tape or live
music. Show acts can include singing, dancing, vocals, instrumentals, magic,
drama, etc. All materials and acts must be family-viewing appropriate.
The Cabaret is an evening
of entertainment featuring singing, dancing and music! The event will be held
on Friday, August 14th at
8:00 p.m. Tickets can
be purchased at the door or in advance at the Community Center. The prices are
$5 for adults and $3 for youth 10 and older seniors over 55 and students with an
I.D. Children under 10 are free!
For further information
call 760.744-9000 x3504
CSUSM Spending on Admin and
Managerial Costs Too High, Critics Say
The budget went down on
instruction while administrators and managers feathered their nests, so says
faculty members from CSUSM and elsewhere.
At a time when students
are asked to pay increased tuition, and schools within the education system are
asked to tighten their belts, a number of officials and members of college
faculty are scratching their heads, wondering how justification was made to
increase spending on admin and managerial salaries by 8.4 percent; meanwhile,
faculty salaries went up only 4 percent.
Faculty spokesmen argued
that CSUSM spent a disproportionate amount on management and administration for
the year 2002-2003.
Meantime, it has been
well documented that CSUSM spent the lowest amount on instruction per student of
all 23 campuses within the CSU system.
CSUSM personnel argued
that the school received a higher number of students than anticipated and the
state did not reimburse the school so it had to dig into its own reserves,
spending some $3.5 million to accommodate the increase.