Proposals to increase the sales tax to expand Caltrain service and fund electrification received approval by nearly two-thirds of voters in a public opinion poll conducted in March, just shy of the two-thirds needed to pass at the ballot box, according to the transit agency.
In March, Caltrain commissioned EMC Research to poll voters in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties on whether they would support a 30-year, 1/8 cent or 1/4 cent sales tax providing about $100 million or $200 million annually for the transit agency. The tax measure is being considered for the November 2020 Election.
The 1,416 people polled were told the proposed tax would be dedicated to funding Caltrain’s efforts to increase frequency and capacity and for electrification.
About 65 percent of those surveyed said they would support either the 1/8 cent or 1/4 cent tax proposals, nearly the two-thirds percentage needed for either measure to pass.
While that appears close, the measure is vulnerable to opposition, according to EMC Research. With more information, support for the measure would likely reach the needed two-thirds threshold, but in the face of opposition messaging, support for the tax reduced to 56 percent. Some voters said they can’t afford another tax given the high cost of living, new gas tax and bridge tolls. Some said public transit improvements won’t significantly relieve traffic, or believe private companies causing the traffic should pay for them.
In the poll, traffic and congestion ranked third as the Bay Area’s biggest problem. About 10 percent of voters said it was the region’s most pressing issue. The top ranking issue in the poll was affordable housing (38 percent) followed by homelessness (14 percent).