There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chatting with Sacramento Regional Transit

News from RT:

The Sacramento Regional Transit District on Friday conducts its first live online chat from noon to 1 p.m. with RT general manager Mike Wiley.

Wiley will host a monthly online “Transit Talk with the General Manager.” The chats typically will take place on the first Friday of the month at, giving the public an opportunity to interact directly with Wiley, ask transit-related questions and get immediate feedback.

“RT’s new online chat is another opportunity to communicate with our riders and to keep them informed,” Wiley said, in a news release.

The first session will cover general transit questions. Future sessions will focus on specific topics, such as the Transit Master Plan.

No registration is required to participate. Questions will be accepted two hours before the session, and through the end of the live chat.
That's not a lot of warning, but this is a good time to have a chat with Mike.

I've been trying since the budget was signed to find out what the damage was for RT. The district had been saying that if the governor got his way, there would be fare hikes and other pain. During the budget stalemate, the Democrats were promising that they wouldn't let the governor take as much money as he wanted from transit, but then they caved.

Mike Wiley finally got back to me yesterday:
RT stated all along that the Governor's proposal would reduce RT funding by an additional $11.3 million on top of the $7 million we previously assumed. That is exactly what happened. We lost a total of $18.3 million plus any additional spill-over from higher gas prices for FY 09. That amounts to approximately 12.2 % of our FY 09 operating budget. Yes we are going to our Board for final action on a fare increase and other things on 10/27, to plug the $11.3 million hole.
Here are the questions I will pose if I have an opportunity to take part in this chat:
I realize that fare hikes are your only near-term option, but has the district considered some of the longer term options for capturing the value of transit: an assessment district for operating expenses; tax-increment financing for new projects such as the DNA and south line extension; joint development efforts similar to the Greenbriar DNA station; assessing fees against development projects with sprawl-inducing projects paying more?

A mix of those might help RT secure reliable operating revenue that isn't as easily disrupted by downturns in the economy. Of course, those options would require that RT's board return to their respective local governments and work to help RT. Why don't we see that happening?

No comments: