California's new, um, governor ran on a platform of cutting taxes. Yay low taxes. We can all keep the money we would have paid to register our new Hummers. Yay. Um, but there's a bit of a problem. No money left for everything. So we'll cut public transportation. Only poor people don't have cars and they don't vote. Or they can take advantage of the new low car registration fees and buy themselves Hummers! It's like having your own bus.
My girlfriend, though, is not happy about this as she is one of those carless types. Yes, one of the things that I like about San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley is that you don't need a car to get around. Cola does not even have a driver's liscence. Somehow, though, she knows more about car engines and how they work than I do. Anyway. The AC Transit Press Release thingee has a sample letter to send to the Governor and a link to find your local assembly member. Click on "find my district" on the left. Even if you are not a Californian, you can contact the governor. The smog from California's cars warms the whole globe. Cutting public transit is penny wise and pound foolish. Less transit means more cars on the road. This means more air pollution, which means global enviromental catastrophe, higher rates of asthma, which increase public health costs, greater wear and tear on the roads, which inscreases road repair costs, and it creates difficulty for low income people or carless people getting to and from work, which increases the unemplyment rate, which increases public assitance costs. Really, the smartest economic choice for California would be to hike car registeration fees tremendously and make all public transit free while extending it's reach and hours. This would cut pollution, cut traffic and make it easier for people to get to work. Every hour that somebody spends commuting is a non-monotized, zero-production work hour. It's a tax on the worker and on the economy. So then the economy of California would rebound from the recession. Asthma rates would decline. The state would suddenly be awash in funds again. Maybe we could use them to fix the schools or fund the arts or something.
Here's the Sample Letter:
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
I am writing to urge you to exempt AC Transit from the ERAF shift you proposed in the May budget revision. 230,000 East Bay residents rely on AC Transit every day to get to school, work, retail and recreation sites and medical appointments. Many of these people have no other transportation alternatives. AC Transit provides essential service to our East Bay community.
Your proposal places a disproportionate amount of the burden of the statewide ERAF shift (9%) on the shoulders of Bay Area transit riders.
AC Transit has faced severe budget cuts over the past three years and has taken prudent measures to respond to the economic challenges. It has made significant reductions in expenditures and personnel, deferred capital expenditures and increased fares. AC Transit has already cut 10% of its service in response to the current budget crisis. The additional revenue reductions that you have proposed via an ERAF shift - $20 million for AC Transit - will result in further personnel layoffs and service reductions, decimating critical services by forcing the elimination of routes, many of which are essential for school children, senior citizens, and workers.
As a consequence of your proposal AC Transit would lose 8% of its budget and have to cut the equivalent of all of its weekend or all of its school service (AC Transit carries 60,000 school children daily).
I urge you to reconsider the burden you have placed on AC Transit and all of those who depend on AC Transit every day, and to continue to exempt transit districts from the ERAF shift.
cc: Legislative Delegation:
Senator Liz Figueroa
Senator Don Perata
Senator Tom Torlakson
Assembly Member Joe Canciamilla
Assembly Member Wilma Chan
Assembly Member Ellen Corbett
Assembly Member John Dutra
Assembly Member Loni Hancock
I just wanted to note that the bay area voted overwhelmingly against the recall and did not vote for the governator, which might be why East Bay transit is facing disproportionate budget cuts. Just an aside.