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

Friday, June 19, 2009

Balancing RT -- fares vs. service cuts

Sacramento Regional Transit's board will be asked Monday to decide whether to adopt a larger fare increase than originally proposed last month in order to accept a smaller reduction in bus service. But that won't be the end of the discussion. The staff has asked the board to hold a hearing next month to plan for the service cuts that will be necessary in January if the district's budget picture doesn't improve.

"Given the uncertainty and potential severity of January service changes, staff intends to notice all routes for elimination, so as to allow contingency planning with maximum flexibility," the staff report says.

RT had originally proposed to raise $1.8 million through fare increases and $2.2 million through service cuts to balance the 2010 budget. Monday, the board will consider $3.3 million in fare increases and just $700,000 in service cuts.

The basic fare will rise from $2.25 to $2.50 and the discount fare for students and the elderly to $1.25. The Paratransit single fare will increase to $5 and the monthly Paratransit pass to $125. More important, the monthly Paratransit pass will only be good for 30 trips.

The biggest hit will be taken by those people who rely on transfers. Today, if you must transfer from one bus to another to complete your trip or from a bus to a train, the transfer is an additional 50 cents. After Sept. 1, there will be no transfer discount. Each time you board a transit vehicle you will pay the full fare.

Some solace can be taken from the fact that RT is proposing to leave the daily pass fare at $6. Anyone who needs to board a vehicle three or more times in the course of a roundtrip will want to buy a daily pass.

The monthly passes and various stickers will remain at their current prices. The exception is the "Lifetime Pass" that allowed people 75 and older to ride free. That's gone. Those riders are back on the senior discount.

Here's the PowerPoint to be shown at the board meeting:

(Read the full budget and fare issue paper here)

In exchange for this larger fare increase, the service reductions have been reduced from the original 36 lines to just 11.
  • 5 - Meadowview-Valley Hi - Sundays/Holidays - Eliminate.
  • 36 - Folsom - Weekdays - Decrease service frequency from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • 37 - Tahoe Park - 21st Avenue - Weekdays - Eliminate; Route 8 provides alternative service.
  • 54 - Center Parkway - Saturdays - Eliminate; Route 56 provides alternative service.
  • 65 - Franklin South - Saturdays - Eliminate.
  • 73 - White Rock - Saturdays - Eliminate.
  • 75 - Mather Field - Saturdays - Eliminate the 6:40 p.m. and 7:25 p.m. trips.
  • 140 - Ziggurat - Downtown - Weekdays - Eliminate; Yolobus Route 40 provides alternative service.
  • 141 - 3rd/16th Streets - Weekdays - Reduce to peak only service with 30-minute frequency.
  • 142 - 9th/10th Streets - Weekdays - Reduce to peak only service with 30-minute frequency.
  • 212 - 14th Avenue - 21st Avenue - Weekdays - Extend route south to serve segment of Route 37 from 21st Avenue and Bradford Drive, south on Bradford Drive, east on Vandenberg Drive, south on 79th Street, west on 39th Avenue, south on Wilkinson Street, west on Lemon Hill Avenue, and south on Logan Street to Stallings Drive
The board will also hear a proposal for a pilot program to test charging $1 a day for parking at light rail park and ride lots beginning in January. The unlucky guinea pigs will be customers of the Watt/I-80, Watt West and Roseville Roads stations. Security guards will be the primary enforcers. The pilot program will cost about $30,500 to implement. New stations could be brought into the program for $5,000 each. RT estimates that the Watt/I80, Watt West and Roseville Road lots could generate $300,993 in annual revenue. (Read the staff proposal)

The question of further service changes in January would come before the board July 27. While it is possible that a go, no-go decision by the board could be postponed until late September, the size and shape of the service reductions must be completed by Aug. 24 in order to accommodate preparing the schedule in September and driver bidding for routes in October.

No comments: