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 9, 2008

"Park District" funding for transit

Just a reminder that Sacramento Regional Transit "continues its outreach effort for the Transit Master Plan (TMP) -- a new Transit Vision for the next 30 years -- by hosting eight community workshops throughout the Sacramento region."

The first one is tonight at Rusch Park Auditorium, 7801 Auburn Boulevard, Citrus Heights, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

These seminars are supposed to focus on "funding elements" of the plan. It's hard to imagine anything realistic coming out of this when the district hasn't been able to find a way to fund its current limited operations. The impact of the economic downturn, which cut sales tax revenue, and the governor's theft of transit money two years in a row will force RT to raise fares. The question of when fares will increase will be decided at the board meeting Oct. 27.

Can RT think outside the box on funding? Can it see beyond another sales tax hike?

I'd like to see the district and its board -- a board, by the way, composed of representatives of every local government in RT's service area -- adopt what I'll call the "Park District" approach to funding.

Sacramento County residents will be familiar with the idea of funding parks and recreation with benefit assessment districts. People served by the parks pay an annual fee to pay to maintain and improve parks. That's what RT needs, but with a special twist.

Instead of raising money from an assessment to property taxes, as a park district does, RT's "Park District" should assess a fee on each parking space in its service area.

Businesses would be expected to pass this fee on to people who use the parking lots. In fact, businesses should be encouraged to do so. Don't want to pay the extra cost to park? Ride the bus.

Unlike sales tax revenue, which rises and falls with the economy, or state funding, which can't be guaranteed, a fee applied to parking spaces would establish a firm foundation from which to plan a transit system worthy of the name.

The remaining meetings are scheduled for:

City of Rancho Cordova,
American River North Room
2729 Prospect Park Drive
Wednesday, October 15
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Samuel Pannell Meadowview Community Center
2450 Meadowview Road, Sacramento
Tuesday, October 21
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

City of Folsom Community Center
52 Natoma Street
Thursday, October 23
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

South Natomas Community Center
2921 Truxel Road, Sacramento
Tuesday, October 28
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Tsakopoulos Library Galleria,
East Meeting Room
828 I Street, Sacramento
Thursday, October 30
5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Carmichael Park,
Community Clubhouse
5750 Grant Avenue
Thursday, November 6
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

City of Elk Grove Council Chambers
8400 Laguna Palms Way
Thursday, November 13
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

No comments: