Sacramento Rapid Transit's Holiday Bus
SACRAMENTO, CA - If you ride the bus or light rail in the Sacramento area, you may be facing some deep cuts in service by June.
Regional Transit is facing a $13 million budget shortfall this year, and another $25 million gap the next fiscal year. "That could mean cutting service on weekends or cutting service during the evening hours," said RT spokeswoman Alane Masui.
The shortfall in funding is the result of Gov. Schwarzenegger's decision to eliminate mass transit funding from the state budget. RT has also lost millions in funding as local sales tax revenue has fallen during the recession.
"If these budget cuts happen, I won't be able to work my night shifts, 5 to 9, five days a week," said Rancho Cordova resident Michael Morales, who takes both the bus and light rail to school at Sacramento City College and to his job on weeknights. "I wonder how I would get home at night," he said.
The RT board was holding a public meeting at 4 p.m. Monday at its headquarters on 1400 29th Street to get input from riders on where to cut.
"People need mass transit. People need to get to work, to school, to appointments, at all hours of the day," said Masui, adding that a recession is when many people need mass transit the most.
Rider Peggy Jabari of Sacramento agreed.
"I don't know how, not just me, but a lot of people that work the weekends are going to get back and forth to work and with the economy the way it is, a lot of people don't have cars anyway," she said.
RT is expected to lay off 60 workers, mostly managerial and administrative, in mid-April. By June the agency is expected to lay off another 300 workers.
"We would expect to see layoffs of operators, mechanics and support transportation staff," said Masui.
Democrats in the state Legislature want the governor to sign a bill providing $400 million in state funds for mass transit by June. That would provide $12 million dollars for RT, helping to ease this year's budget woes.
Masui said the money would be a significant help, but added that cuts to service and staff would still be almost certain.
Jabari said she knows what she'll be forced to do if her rides on weekends and nights see major service cuts.
"I guess I would ask a friend or a family member and hope that they can do it," she said.
By Dave Marquis, firstname.lastname@example.org