Sunday, March 1, 2009

Yays & Nays

Yay to voters for passing the High Speed Rail bond measure back in November, which will hopefully start the process of building a high speed rail line that will zip people between San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 1/2 hours.

Yay also to the lawmakers in the US Congress who were able to get a bunch of additional funding for public transit and high speed rail put into the Economic Stimulus Bill (with bipartisan support) that was recently signed into law.

BIG BIG NAY, however, to the California state government for drastically cutting funding to public transportation, with plans to entirely eliminate state funding for it in the near future.

This from the SF Examiner:

The state budget, which was approved by the Legislature on Thursday, slashed $61 million in funding originally allotted for Bay Area transportation agencies, including a combined $36 million reduction in transit assistance funds for BART and Muni.

The news only gets worse for the 2010 fiscal year, when transit assistance funds — which topped $700 million in 2008 — are expected to be discontinued completely. The funding comes from a portion of the state’s fuel taxes and is supposed to be dedicated to transportation agencies.

Read the full article here.

Are they cutting or eliminating road construction/highway funding? Taking away funding from CalTrans? Unlikely.

How is it that our supposedly green state, with its supposedly green Democratic legislature, and supposedly green moderate governator have their priorities so out of whack!

I know we're in a budget crises, but come on! Why are you cutting funding from these transit agencies that were already struggling to maintain current service levels, when they've been showing a steady boon in ridership for over a year?

They just don't seem to get it. You could have cars made out of hemp that run on recycled dryer lint... but that won't solve the problem... you'll still have traffic jams, and you'll still need to keep widening the roads until the entire country is paved over.

It's time to get with the program... and the rest of the world... and start making real and lasting investments into public transportation. The car culture is dying... the public seems to realize it... so why don't the people in charge? One of the best ways to help curb the climate crisis and our bottle-necked roads is by providing frequent, affordable, quality public transportation. If you keep cutting/eliminating funding from it, the agencies are going to keep raising fares and reducing service, which in turn makes it a less attractive option for many existing and potential patrons, reducing ridership and revenue, causing more cuts and higher fares, until eventually we've make it so inconvenient and unattractive, that people are once again forced to drive.

Our friends over at The N Judah Chronicles have been keeping up some much needed outrage on this issue, so be sure to check them out.

Please be sure to contact your state representatives and stress the importance of public transit in our state and let them know they must reinstate the funding, and that just 'cause they don't ride public transit themselves, doesn't mean we don't need, want and depend on it.