SANDAG urged to step up in San Diego’s transit budget crisis

by on March 20, 2009 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Organizing, San Diego

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.

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.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar doug porter March 20, 2009 at 4:44 pm

and while they’re at it, ya think they could redesign the transit routes so they are actually of use to working people. there are, for instance, jobs up at miramar, but no way to get people to them!


avatar Frank Gormlie March 21, 2009 at 11:54 am

Back in the 1990s when I worked in City Heights, the University Ave and El Cajon Blvd transit zone was considered the most heavily used transit corridor. The City Heights CDC and other community groups tried to get MTS to consider building a trolley line down that corridor out to SDSU. No way, was their response.

Also our transit policywonks forgot to install a short trolley line out to the airport, you know, one of the transit hubs of the region. But, hey, we got a line out to Qualcomm Stadium – where during the off-football season, it must have at least a half dozen events.


avatar pesach kremen March 22, 2009 at 11:35 am

We need two major things. First of all enabling of a parking tax along with the elimination of Sunday free parking at meters. we have subsidized the auto long enough!

Second, requiring all merchants, landlords, and, employers that give free parking being required to give an equivalent benefit to transit users, bicyclists, and walkers.

As to transit routes. Any business that benefits from a route (proximity of 2 blocks) be required to pay a fee to help that route. A $200 a year transit fee payable in 4 quarterly installments that would be tax deductible could be borne by the businesses involved.


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