RT to Cut Service Again? A Public Hearing

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Forlorn RT bus stops will see a lot fewer buses this summer if proposed service cuts are approved...

It’s beginning to sound like a broken record over the past three years, but it’s happening again:  The Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) is facing another budget deficit, and is looking at the unhappy prospect of cutting service substantially this year.

Just how “substantially” will service be cut?  A February 22 Sacramento Bee editorial (“Layoffs and Cuts Hammer Transit”) put it this way:

“Think about no buses or light rail in Sacramento County after 7 o’clock at night or no transit service at all on weekends.  Prepare for longer waits at light-rail stations.

“Instead of 15 minutes between trains, the wait might edge up to 20 or 30 minutes.  Those are the kinds of service cuts RT officials must consider as the area’s largest public transit agency struggles with a third straight year of deep declines in revenue.”

According to the editorial, declining sales taxes due to the poor economy; decreasing receipts from bus and light-rail fares; and the state government’s drastic reduction in support for transit, have combined to create a $16 million deficit in RT’s $140 annual budget this fiscal year.  “Next year,” the editorial warns, “[RT] must cut another $20 million.”

The budget shortfall is so serious that RT is having to lay off large numbers of its workers–60 of them, reportedly in administration, have already been given layoff notices and will be let go by April.  Another 240 employees–bus and light-rail drivers, mechanics and maintenance personnel–will be laid off by June, unless RT can raise the necessary funds from the state or federal government before then.

On Monday, March 8, at 4:00 p.m., the RT Board will meet at the RT Auditorium (1400 29th Street, at 29th & N) to consider proposed service changes, which will take effect this June.  The public will have the opportunity to comment on the service cuts at the meeting.  According to RT’s own notice on the meeting, “…proposed service changes may include the reduction, realignment or discontinuation of any route.”  [my italics]

There will not be much time for the RT Board to decide.  On Monday, March 22, any service changes that must be made to close RT’s budget deficit are scheduled to be adopted by the Board.  If approved, the changes will be implemented on Sunday, June 20, 2010.

For more information, please call (916) 321-BUSS; or visit the RT website.

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