Funding & Programming
The revenue available for transportation plans and projects is raised by fuel taxes, sales taxes, general fund contributions (such as local property and sales taxes), local assessment districts, and impact fees assessed at either the federal, state, or local level.
However, federal funding-transferred to the state and later distributed to metropolitan areas-is typically the primary funding source for major plans and projects. Federal transportation funding is made available through the Federal Highway Trust Fund and is supplemented by general funds. It is important to remember that most FHWA sources of funding are administered by the state Department of Transportation (DOT). The state DOT then allocates the money to urban and rural areas based on state and local priorities and needs. Most transit funds for urban areas are sent directly from the FTA to the transit operator. Transit funds for rural areas are administered by the state DOT.
Congress distributes federal transportation dollars to SJCOG (and other metropolitan planning organizations) to invest in regional transportation projects and programs. The San Joaquin region's share of federal funds totals about $54 million each year. SJCOG uses this money to help meet the transportation priorities identified in the RTP.
Federal funding levels and regulations are established by Congress in surface transportation acts. The most recent act, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST), was signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 4, 2015. In the FAST Act and its predecessor, MAP‐21, the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) are the cornerstone programs for funds distributed to regions for transportation. STP and CMAQ are "flexible" funding programs. This means the money can be spent on public transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects, as well as on roads and highways.
Funding for transit capital and operations come primarily from Federal Transit Administration grant programs, State Transportation Development Act (TDA), State Transit Assistance, and Measure K. Most transit funding programs are restricted to capital assets, such as trains, rails, buses, fare equipment, stations, benches, and the like. Far fewer sources are available to finance the cost of transit operations, such as fuel, drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, etc.
Key sources of transportation funding include excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, and taxes on retail sales.
In addition to supporting highways and local streets and roads, these taxes also help finance San Joaquin County's transit network:
- Transportation Development Act (TDA) — a state sales tax of one-quarter of one percent on all retail sales in each county, used to finance transit operations, and bus and rail projects as well as special paratransit services for disabled passengers, and bicycle and pedestrian projects. In non-urban areas TDA funds may be used in some cases for maintenance of local streets and roads.
- State Transit Assistance (STA) — generated from the state sales tax on diesel fuel, these funds can be used for both transit capital and operating projects.
- Measure K half-cent Sales Tax — half-cent sales tax collected in San Joaquin County. Measure K has financed numerous highway expansions, pedestrian-friendly projects, bike paths, and local road improvements throughout San Joaquin County and has generated millions in new revenues for rail and public transit networks. It has also invested in preserving and maintaining local streets and roads.
Projects in the State Transportation Improvement Program(link is external), or STIP, are funded in large part by the state excise tax on gasoline.