As everybody knows by now, Regional Transit is preparing, for the third year running, to make deep budget cuts by reducing bus-service routes and enacting higher fares that make the cost of a single ride go from $2.25 to $2.50 and the daily pass rise from $6 to $6.50.
Many who use public transportation will feel the hurt of this, big-time. But there was simply no getting around the fact that a huge portion of the revenue stream for RT’s $144 million operating budget has dried up. As Cosmo Garvin reported in last week’s SN&R (“Waiting for the buses” SN&R Frontlines, June 11), RT expected to get $26 million in state transportation assistance this year—it’s only getting $4 million. And next year it gets zero, all thanks to the state’s financial meltdown.
Ironically, the cuts and rate hikes come at a time when RT is poised to expand and improve our regional public-transit system. RT general manager Mike Wiley and staff are getting ready to roll out an ambitious 30-year “Sacramento TransitAction Plan” with more bus lines and more frequent service, extended light rail, high-speed bus lanes and streetcar lines with European-style tram loops connecting key regional hubs. RT officials hope the plan—and a countywide half-cent sales tax to partially fund it—will be placed on the ballot in November of 2010.
Since we clearly can’t count on state funds anymore for transit funding, we’d better just admit that we’re on our own. So kudos to RT for planning accordingly. Count us on board early with eager support for this sweeping 30-year transit plan.