For the price of two classes at American River College, I now have free transit until the end of the year. And, as it turns out, I could have received the pass for the price of just one class.
This raises a very interesting point about the concept of free transit. At the meeting of the Sacramento Regional Transit District board on July 28, the idea was briefly touched upon in the board's discussion and quickly discarded.
But it's not as far fetched as it sounds. According to the "RT Fact Sheets" at RT's Web site, the district's operating budget is $147.7 million. Last year, RT anticipated just 21 percent of its operating expenses would be covered by the fares riders pay.
In other words, if the community saw the value of transit and agreed that providing transit was a worthy goal -- a goal on a par with trash collection or street maintenance or park programs -- it would cost less than $32 million in new taxes each year to make transit free in Sacramento. That's less than $16 a year per person for the 2.1 million residents served by RT. That is less money than RT currently receives from local sales taxes.
If the county and the cities in the region taxed "free" parking, everyone could have free transit.