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Estimated Cost for PRT

Personal Rapid Transit infrastructure is usually estimated to cost around $10 million per mile, including pods and stations, or up to $15 million per mile including sufficient solar panels to power the system. Transit X appears to be a bargain with advanced features (including thin-film solar) at $4-5 million per mile. A budget system known as EcoPRT could be even lower cost, with the guideways estimated at $1 million per mile.

The operating costs for PRT are very affordable, typically estimated at $1 per passenger trip. This compares to around $8 per trip for Santa Cruz Metro buses which are heavily subsidized.

City Parking Funds

The City of Santa Cruz apparently has over $33 million available for a parking garage. Those funds could pay for at least three miles of a Personal Rapid Transit system that would create “park and ride” opportunities at 41st Avenue, making the parking garage unnecessary.

Measure D Neighborhood Funds

Significant funds are available for local transportation projects which could include Personal Rapid Transit, especially if the system serves schools. The Measure D Expenditure Plan specifies:
Approximately $135 million ($4.5 million per year) in Measure Revenues will be allocated to the cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Watsonville and the County of Santa Cruz for transportation projects. Projects to be funded with Measure Revenues may include: fixing potholes, local roadway repairs, rehabilitation, reconstruction and intersection improvements; new and improved sidewalks, crosswalks and bicycle lanes and paths, especially near schools; and other transportation projects as necessary for the benefit of residents in those jurisdictions. The County of Santa Cruz and the cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Watsonville, who are best able to determine their local transportation needs, shall each prepare an annual report through a public process to identify how they plan to spend their share of measure funds and how measure funds were spent in the prior year.

Measure D Highway Funds

The Measure D Expenditure Plan allocates $125 million (over 30 years) to Highway Corridors projects including auxiliary lanes for Highway 1. Here is a strategy to redirect those funds to Personal Rapid Transit.

Step 1: Demonstrate that a PRT system would reduce congestion on Highway 1. In other words, we do a study, or we insist the County does a study. Measure D provides $1.3 million per year which is available for “Analysis (including environmental analysis) of both rail transit and non-rail options for the corridor.”

Step 2: Raise our voices during the Environmental Impact Report process for Highway 1 widening. Insist that Personal Rapid Transit is included in the Feasible Alternatives process. The Expenditure Plan explicitly states that the purpose of widening is to improve traffic flow and safety on Highway 1, and we believe PRT will accomplish that with benefits instead of costs for the environment.

Step 3: If we have done the first two steps effectively and if all goes well, the EIR process will shut down widening of the highway 1. Then we work to amend the Expenditure Plan as specified in Measure D, Section 25 (emphasis added):

  1. This Ordinance and Expenditure Plan may be amended to provide for the use of additional federal, state, and local revenues, to account for unexpected revenues, or to take into consideration unforeseen circumstances. Should a project implementing agency determine that a planned project has become undeliverable, infeasible or unfundable due to circumstances unforeseen at the time this Ordinance and Expenditure Plan were created, or should a project not require all funds programmed for that project or have excess funding, funding set forth at project termination will be reallocated to another project or program of the same type or otherwise serving the same objectives.
  2. The Ordinance and Expenditure Plan may only be amended, if required, by the following process set forth in Section 180207 of the Public Utilities Code: (1) Initiation of amendments by the Authority reciting findings of necessity; (2) Provision of notice and a copy of the amendments provided to the Board of Supervisors and the City Councils in Santa Cruz County; (3) The proposed amendments shall become effective 45 days after notice is given. Amendments shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the total membership of the Authority

Measure D Funds for Seniors and People with Disabilities

These funds, $3.3 million per year, are allocated directly to Santa Cruz METRO and Community Bridges Lift Line Paratransit Service. This should be available for any portion of the route that serves senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals, doctors offices, and maybe even grocery stores.

Monterey Bay Community Power

The new Community Choice Energy program will be investing in solar projects throughout Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey County. They can help fund the solar panels in our system.

Businesses that need freight service

PRT can deliver packages into a building. Some companies such as FedEx and UPS may be willing to pay to have a convenient connection between their offices.

Private Investment by PRT Vendors

With some conditions, PRT vendors are willing to fund the construction of a PRT project. One potential financial arrangement is DBOOT, “Design, Build, Own, Operate, and Transfer”  which would allow private enterprise to build and operate the system, with an option to transfer into the public domain later.

State Funding

Additional sources of funding may include CARB (California Air Resources Board), CalSTA (California State Transportation Agency)  and the CalTrans (California Department of Transportation). These sources include, but are not limited to, the following programs:

Low Carbon Transit Operations Program
The LCTOP was created to provide operating and capital assistance for transit agencies to reduce GHG emissions and improve mobility, with a priority on serving DACs. Per Public Resource Code 75230 (f) (1-3) Moneys from the program shall be expended to provide transit operating or capital assistance that meets any of the following:
1. Expenditures that directly enhance or expand transit service by supporting new or expanded bus or rail services, new or expanded water-borne transit, or expanded intermodal transit facilities, and may include equipment acquisition, fueling, and maintenance, and other costs to operate those services or facilities.
2. Operational expenditures that increase transit mode share.
3. Expenditures related to the purchase of zero-emission buses, including electric buses, and the installation of the necessary equipment and infrastructure to operate and support zeroemission buses.

Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program
TIRCP aims to provide monies to fund transformative capital improvements that modernize California’s intercity rail, bus, ferry, and rail transit systems to achieve all of the following objectives:
1. Reduce emissions of greenhouse gases
2. Expand and improve transit service to increase ridership
3. Integrate the rail service of the state’s various rail operations, including integration with the highspeed rail system
4. Improve transit safety
Additionally, SB 862 establishes a programmatic goal to provide at least 25 percent of available funding to projects that provide a direct, meaningful, and assured benefit to disadvantaged communities, consistent with the objectives of SB 535, and address a community need. Note,  the Watsonville Transit Center is in census tract 6087110400 is officially designated as a disadvantaged community according to SB 535.