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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Evil Transitator (continued)

I made a mistake. I admit it. I voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Twice. So I guess I am to blame.

Bad, John. Bad.

After two straight years of successfully stealing money from transit, it is not at all surprising that governor considers transit riders an easy mark.

Sacramento Regional Transit has joined several transit agencies protesting the governor's latest foolishness:

During the past two years, the Legislature and the Governor have diverted nearly $3 billion in transit funds to address the state budget shortfall, which in turn has impacted RT’s ability to provide the necessary service to our growing region. The Governor’s most recent proposal has occurred as transit ridership has increased in record numbers, in part because of high gas prices, traffic congestion and the public’s desire to fight global warming. Cutting transit programs is detrimental for California just as historic laws such as Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375 urge people to use public transportation to meet greenhouse gas mandates.

If this proposal is approved by the Legislature and the STA funding is eliminated, the result will be an additional $5.6 million hit to RT’s current budget and a 16% reduction in RT’s annual operating budget going forward. RT will be forced to cut productive bus and light rail service at a time when people are turning to transit more than ever before.
The California Transit Association offered this explanation on Nov. 6, the day the governor's proposal was announced:
The Administration’s revised budget proposal released today includes diverting another $230 million in State Transit Assistance (STA) program revenues, which accrue primarily from a portion of the sales tax on gasoline. Under provisions of the September budget, the account contains a $215 million contribution from Proposition 42 funds. The net result of the governor’s newest proposal is a 75 percent reduction in funding for public transportation operations compared to the budget plan adopted in September.

In addition, the new plan would result in the elimination of STA payments for the remainder of the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The governor’s proposed increase of the state sales tax rate from 5 percent to 6½ percent would generate $626 million in transportation revenues, of which 20 percent (approximately $125 million) would be allocated to public transit.
RT and the other transit agencies are promoting a letter-writing campaign.
Another transit advocacy group, TransForm, suggests calling direct and giving legislative leaders a piece of your mind:
  • Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg: 916-651-4006
  • Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill: 916-651-4014
  • Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass: 916-319-2047
  • Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines: 916-319-2029

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