Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stimulus, Operating Budgets, and CDTA riders

In the wake of the stimulus bill, I found this interesting piece on the NY Times website.

It's been pretty well-publicized in the transit world that stimulus funding was being targeted for Capital projects rather than operating support so when I read the below from that NY Times piece, I thought, "hmmmm...."
The failure to include operating assistance in the economic recovery
package for struggling transit agencies across the country can be traced to a
long-standing U.S. political and policy bias against major urban transit
systems. The less-than-robust transit funding contained in the bill is
restricted to capital and maintenance projects, except — and this is an
important loophole — for small and rural systems.
Got me wondering whether CDTA qualifies as "small" or "rural." I've asked around, and haven't received a definitive response...yet.

March 2 is Transit Awareness Day, and members of the Stop the Hike campaign will ask our state legislators to work in the best interest of their constituents and ensure CDTA's funding is restored with stimulus funding. We'll also urge the legislators to push CDTA's board to roll back the planned fare increases that will be devastating to the majority of CDTA's riders.

The average CDTA bus rider simply cannot afford this fare hike!

According to CDTA's "2008 Regular Route Rider Satisfaction Research Program":
  • 63% of CDTA bus riders are from households with annual incomes of $25,000 or less.
  • Only 52% of CDTA bus riders have full-time jobs.
  • 62% of CDTA bus riders have no household car available.
What is the impact of the fare hike on low-income families?

CDTA offers cost-saving monthly passes under two options:

  • A 5-day Swiper valid Monday through Friday.

  • A Swiper valid 7 days per week.

Purchasing Swipers can be tricky.

  • Seems simple, but if you don’t have your pass at the beginning of the month, you lose out on savings. If you buy it one week late, you only save $15, if you buy it in the middle of the month, you save nothing!

Unfortunately, for many low-wage earners, laying out cash for a Swiper is not an option when trying to feed a family, pay the rent and keep the refrigerator running.

Consider this…

Before the Fare increase: A mom didn't have the funds at the end of the previous month to purchase a CDTA Swiper. Instead of a Swiper, she'll buy a $3 day pass each weekday for herself that provides unlimited daily rides. Mom takes her two elementary-age kids to school on a CDTA bus at $1 per ride per kid, and then hops on another bus to get to work. At the end of the workday, she does the reverse.

The family’s bus fare expenditures are $7 a day and $35 for a 5-day work week.

After the Fare increase: The day pass will go up to $4/ day, and the daily per-child bus fare will rise to $3, with weekly family transit costs at $50; an increase of $15 per week or $60 per month!

In the current economy, where will this family get the extra $60 per month?

Contact us @ capitalregiontransitadvocates@gmail(dot)com to help with our efforts.

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