The half-cent sales tax for transportation generates approximately $100 million annually (pre-pandemic) for improvements like new buses and light rail vehicles, street paving, bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements, and more. The Transportation Authority administers the half-cent sales program according to an Expenditure Plan.
San Francisco voters in November 2022 approved Proposition L, the Sales Tax for Transportation Projects measure that will direct $2.6 billion in half-cent sales tax funds over 30 years to help deliver safer, smoother streets, more reliable transit, continue paratransit services for seniors and persons with disabilities, reduce congestion, and improve air quality.
Projects Funded by Half-Cent Sales Tax
Half-cent sales tax revenues are invested in projects and programs contained in four major categories.
Half-cent sales tax signature projects
BART station improvements
Caltrain state of good repair
Streets and Traffic Safety
Transportation Systems Management/Strategic Initiatives
Whether you are a San Francisco resident, worker, or visitor, it is likely you have already experienced an improvement supported by half-cent sales tax transportation funding.
In November 2003, 75% of San Francisco voters approved Prop K, extending the existing half-cent local sales tax for transportation (Prop B, approved in 1989). Voters also approved a 30-year Expenditure Plan (PDF) identifying projects and programs to be funded by the sales tax. The 30-year Expenditure Plan prioritizes $2.35 billion (in 2003 dollars) and leverages another $9 billion in federal, state, and local funds for transportation improvements.
The sales tax revenues are invested in projects and programs contained in four major categories, which are shown below along with the percentage of overall half-cent sales tax revenues that each category will receive over the life of the Expenditure Plan.
- Transit: 65.5%
- Paratransit Operations: 8.5%
- Streets and Traffic Safety: 24.6%
- Strategic Initiatives: 1.3%
The Expenditure Plan describes the types of projects that are eligible for funds. It explicitly calls out four major capital projects, including:
- Central Subway
- Caltrain Electrification
- Presidio Parkway
- Caltrain Downtown Extension to the Salesforce Transit Center
The Expenditure Plan also includes a paratransit operations category and twenty-one programmatic categories comprised of projects ranging from street resurfacing to new and upgraded traffic signals to pedestrian safety improvements to transit vehicle replacements. The Transportation Authority works with city agencies in five-year cycles to program half-cent sales tax funds to specific projects eligible for funds from the programmatic categories.
The Expenditure Plan identifies eligible agencies for each line item and establishes limits on sales tax funding by Expenditure Plan line item. It also sets expectations for leveraging of sales tax funds with other federal, state, and local dollars to fully fund the Expenditure Plan programs and projects. The Expenditure Plan estimates that $2.35 billion (in 2003 dollars) in local transportation sales tax revenue will be made available to projects over the 30-year program; however, it does not specify how much sales tax funds any given project would receive by year. The Expenditure Plan requires that the Transportation Authority develop and adopt periodic updates to the Strategic Plan as well as five-year project lists to guide the implementation of the program while supporting transparency and accountability.
Prop K Strategic Plan and 5-Year Project Lists
The Prop K Strategic Plan sets policy for administration of the half-cent sales tax program to ensure prudent stewardship of taxpayer funds. It also reconciles the timing of expected sales tax revenues with the schedule for when project sponsors need those revenues, and provides a solid financial basis for the issuance of debt needed to accelerate the delivery of projects and their associated benefits to the public.
Concurrent with updates of the Strategic Plan every five years, the Transportation Authority works closely with eligible agencies to develop lists of projects to be funded from each of the twenty-one programmatic categories, including scope, schedule, cost, funding information for Prop K plus all other fund sources, and performance measures. The Strategic Plan and five-year project lists were updated for funding cycles beginning in 2009, 2014, and 2019.
Projects Supported by the Prop K Transportation Sales Tax
View Project Lists for all 5YPPs (Google Sheet) (Current)
Standard Grant Agreement Sample (PDF) (Updated October 26, 2020)
Portal Guide for Sponsors (PDF), for quarterly progress reports, amendment requests, and closeout/de-obligation requests. The Portal Guide is also available from the Portal's Help menu.
Accessibility: The Word and/or Excel documents on this page are required by state and/or federal regulations and can be provided in an accessible form upon request.
The Prop K Expenditure Plan describes the types of projects that are eligible for funds, including both specific projects and programmatic (e.g. non-project specific) categories, establishes limits on sales tax funding by Expenditure Plan line item, and sets expectations for leveraging of sales tax funds to fully fund the Expenditure Plan projects and programs. These projects and programs are intended to help implement the long-range vision for the development and improvement of San Francisco's transportation system, as articulated in the San Francisco Transportation Plan.
The Prop K Strategic Plan is the financial tool that guides the timing and allocation of Prop K revenues over the 30-year Expenditure Plan period. It reconciles the timing of expected Prop K revenues with the schedule for when project sponsors need those revenues in order to deliver projects by taking into account the schedule for availability of state, federal and other funds beyond Prop K, the Transportation Authority's debt issuance capacity, the Transportation Authority's own assessment of the deliverability schedule for proposed projects, and the costs associated with project escalation and debt financing. The Prop K Strategic Plan also sets policy and provides guidance for the administration of the program ensuring prudent stewardship of the funds. Finding a balance between the availability of funds and project delivery is an iterative process that requires examining policy, analyzing agency capabilities to delivery projects consistent with the schedule and costs they have proposed, and maximizing fund leveraging opportunities without which the Expenditure Plan program of projects cannot be delivered.
5-Year Prioritization Programs
The Prop K Expenditure Plan requires that each programmatic category (i.e., not project-specific) develop a 5-Year Prioritization Program (5YPP) prior to receiving Prop K allocations. This requirement applies to twenty-one programs such as street resurfacing, new signals and signs, traffic calming, and transit enhancements. The Expenditure Plan establishes limits on funding for each of the twenty-one programmatic categories, and describes the types of projects that are eligible, but does not detail specific projects for funding within each category nor the timing for receipt of funds. The 5YPPs provide input to the Strategic Plan, which aggregates all projects and programs for purposes of overall financial management of the sales tax revenue.
The 5YPPs are intended to provide a stronger link between project selection and expected project performance, and to support on-time, on-budget project delivery, and timely and competitive use of state and federal matching funds. Important elements of the 5YPPs include: establishing prioritization criteria, performance measures, identifying projects to be funded in the next five years, and incorporating public input. The desired outcome of the 5YPPs is the establishment of a strong pipeline of grant-ready projects that can be advanced as soon as funds (Prop K, federal, state, and others) are available.
The process of updating the 5YPPs allows the Transportation Authority Board, project sponsors, and the public to have a clear understanding of, and a tangible impact on, how projects are prioritized and selected for the best use of Prop K funds over the next five years.
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