As the Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) for Santa Cruz County, the Regional Transportation Commission makes decisions and sets priorities for the expenditure of certain local, state and federal transportation funds for public transit, rail, local street and road, highway, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities. Long range planning for transportation funding is done through the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Projects the RTC has selected to receive state or federal funds are listed in the Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). Projects and programs implemented by the RTC are included in the agency Budget and Work Program. While the RTC historically has distributed between $10-15 million per year to repair local roads, build new bicycle and walking facilities, improve transit service, improve traffic flow on local roads and state highways; state and federal funds available for transportation projects in Santa Cruz County have significantly decreased and become unreliable (in 2016 only $3 million in state and federal funding is available for new projects).
New and Local Funds for our Transportation System
Transportation funding levels have not kept pace with costs to support the transportation needs of the community. Traditional state and federal sources, such as gas taxes, raise less than half of what is required to implement all of the projects necessary to reduce congestion, improve safety, expand mobility, and maintain the existing transportation system. Making matters worse, state and federal funds are unreliable, and waiting for those funds to solve the problem equates to doing nothing. Highways and local roads are regularly backed up. Local jurisdictions cannot keep up with local streets and roads maintenance needs and roads continue to decay. Gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian networks exist. Without new funding sources, it will be impossible to adequately maintain, let alone enhance, the existing transportation system to address existing and future travel needs.
The RTC has been working with the community for over a decade to identify strategies to address funding shortfalls. Based on input from residents and community leaders representing the diverse range of travel needs, the RTC Board approved a long range transportation plan including the pursuit of two local funding mechanisms: a ½ cent sales tax and a vehicle registration fee to meet the county’s transportation needs over the next 30 years.
RTC Funding Programs
The RTC distributes funds from the following programs:
- Transportation Development Act (TDA) – dedicated to public transit, paratransit for seniors and people with disabilities, and bike and pedestrian projects
- Regional Surface Transportation Program (RSTP)
- State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
- Department of Motor Vehicles Fees – dedicated to Freeway Service Patrol, Call Boxes and other traveler aid services
- Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP): Projects selected to receive state and federal funds
- Revenue Projections: 25-year Revenue Projections
- Regional Transportation Plan: Long Range Transportation Plan for Santa Cruz County. Identifies all funding available for region.
- Future Funding: Given severe funding shortfalls, the RTC is working with the community to identify .
- Opportunities: Periodically funding opportunities through the RTC or other agencies are available for transportation projects. See the grants page.
Where Does the Money Come From?
Funding for transportation projects in Santa Cruz County come from a few main sources:
- Per Gallon Gas Taxes (State & Federal)
- Sales Taxes (both on diesel, as well as other goods/services)
- DMV Fees
The money generated through these taxes and fees are then divided into hundreds of funding programs established by voters and/or state and federal statutes.
- Overview of Transportation Funding
- Transportation Funding Flow Chart: Chart demonstrating the complexity of transportation funding (subject to constant change with new federal or state legislative actions)
- Transportation Funding in California Report (2014): Caltrans Economic Analysis Branch
- State Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) Overview of Transportation Funding (2015)
- Overview of Transportation Funding
- Transportation Improvement Plan Fact Sheet
- Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP)-Funded Projects
- RTC Budget and Work Program
- Caltrans’ Local Programs site/Caltrans Local Assistance – Information on grant opportunities and implementing local transportation projects
- www.Recovery.gov – American Recovery & Reinvestment Act
- Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) – Federal Programming Document Prepared by AMBAG which lists federally-funded transportation projects in region)
- LAO Guide to transportation funding: What is being done to address California’s transportation problems?
- State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP): Prepared by the California Transportation Commission
- Caltrans Division of Transportation Programming: Information on STIP, Proposition 1B, TCRP, and other Funding Programs
Senior Transportation Planner