This morning, I attended and testified at the SANDAG (San Diego Area Governments) Transportation Committee. Our transit company, Metropolitan Transit Service (MTS) has suffered a 14 million dollar deficit this year because of the State cuts to transit funding. They anticipate a 17 million dollar shortfall next year. We believe that SANDAG not only has the power to reallocate Transnet funds to cover this year’s and next year’s shortfalls, but it has an obligation to do so. Despite testimony from across the city, fare increases and service reductions were passed at last week’s meeting. Here’s the link to MTS board actions and reports. http://www.sdmts.com/MTS/MTS_board.asp
This is the testimony I provided to the Sandag Transportation Committee on the issue:
Last week I attended an MTS hearing in which the Board declared a fiscal emergency. After lengthy public testimony opposing proposed fare increases and service reductions, the Board voted to implement both of those as the only remedy available to them to close a 14 million dollar budget gap. As transit riders and supporters, we are here today to say that MTS action is NOT the only remedy. SANDAG has the power and the obligation to safeguard the operations of MTS in this crisis. We have been appearing regularly before this committee since 2007, opposing all the prior year cuts and fare increases passed by MTS only to hear you say that these actions are “unfortunate but necessary.”
This year, in which ridership has increased substantially because of the economic situation, you must not dismiss the hardships imposed upon the transit dependent- our elderly, our children, military families, the working poor, and people with disabilities- as “unfortunate but necessary.” You have the power and must use it to leverage the 130 million dollars worth of economic stimulus funds coming to this agency by releasing Transnet funds to close this year’s MTS budget deficit. And you must be committed to do the same next year when the deficit is expected to grow to 17 million dollars. This is not simply a matter of MTS’ fiscal emergency; you must see it as SANDAG’s fiscal emergency and act accordingly.”
MTS will hold a meeting on Thursday March 26. While there is no public comment period on last week’s decision to raise fares and reduce services, there is a general comment period at the beginning of the meeting. We will use that comment period to ask the MTS board to formally request funds from SANDAG.
The meeting is 9:00 am at 1255 Imperial Avenue, Suite 1000. City Council representatives Todd Gloria, Tony Young and Sherri Lightner sit on the MTS board. County Supervisor Ron Roberts is also on the board.
Transit riders and transit supporters- let these elected representative know that TRANSIT MATTERS and that SANDAG cannot continue to neglect San Diego’s public transit needs.