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Posts from the "Genesis" Category

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Some AC Transit Service Restored, But Funding Problems Could Return

Photos: Matthew Roth

Photos: Matthew Roth

AC Transit riders took solace in the news on Tuesday that the agency plans to restore service that was cut twice this year after a labor arbitrator settled a contract dispute. Transit advocates worry, however, about the agency’s long-term solvency and have called on elected officials to develop significant revenue measures for funding buses in the East Bay.

The arbitration panel in the AC Transit labor negotiation reached a decision on a contract between the transit district and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents 1,750 of its bus drivers and mechanics, saving the agency $38 million over three years. The binding decision calls for increased contributions from the members to their health and benefit plans, as well as work rule and holiday changes.

AC Transit had cut service in March by 7.8 percent, or $10.3 million in service hours and in October by 7.2 percent, or $11.4 million in service hours. Fare increases this year amounted to an increase of 25 cents per trip for local riders and $10 for the price of a monthly pass. Transbay riders have been paying an increase of 50 cents per trip and $16.50 for a monthly pass. Youth, senior and disabled riders saw a hike of 15 cents per local trip and 30 cents for Transbay trips.

Because of the arbitration decision, AC Transit also expects to halt an additional round of cuts approved to go into effect in December, including the elimination of weekend service on lines affecting nearly 25,000 riders, what transit advocates and church groups lamented as a “death spiral.”

“There are no winners or losers in this arbitration,” AC Transit Interim General Manager Mary King said in a statement. “Both AC Transit and the union focused on what is best for the riders and taxpayers of this district and what is in the long-term interest of maintaining public transit for the people we serve.”

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Civil Rights Complaint Filed Against BART Over Oak Airport Connector

OAK_rendering1.jpgOaklan Airport BART Station rendering. Image: BART

Transit advocates and community groups have filed a complaint (PDF) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), charging that BART has not complied with federal civil rights obligations in its planning of the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC). The move by Public Advocates Inc. on behalf of TransForm, Urban Habitat and Genesis, comes after concerns over the controversial project fell on deaf ears at both BART and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 

In its current form, the 3.2-mile OAC is projected to cost between $522 million and $552 million, with a six-dollar one-way fare, and no stops between its start point at the Oakland Coliseum BART station and its terminus at Oakland International Airport. 

Since BART will be using federal dollars to pay for the project, including stimulus funds, it is required to comply with the FTA's civil rights regulations. The complaint argues that BART has not properly considered the financial impact the project will have on low-income residents near the proposed airport train, and has not adequately reviewed alternatives, including a proposal by TransForm to run a bus rapid transit line through the corridor instead, at a capital cost of $45-60 million, with a low fare or no fare and one intermediate stop.

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National Transit Funding Report Highlights Local Transit Woes

ATU_rep_small.jpg ATU Local 192 representative Anthony Rogers, who has been an AC Transit bus driver for nearly 20 years. Photo: Matthew Roth
Genesis, a local affiliate of the Gamaliel Foundation, joined with representatives from the national Transportation Equity Network (TEN), AC Transit, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 today to call on Congress to act to stem the tide of transit service cuts, fare hikes, and operating budget shortfalls. The press event coincided with the release of Stranded at the Station, a report prepared by Transportation for America (T4A), Gamaliel, Nelson Nygaard and TEN, which details the woeful fiscal conditions of most of the major transit operators around the country and offers solutions for how to get them out of the quagmire.

As the report notes, in 2008, Americans took 10.7 billion transit trips, the highest since 1956 and the signing of the Interstate Highway System. "Transit ridership has been growing at nearly triple the rate of the population and almost twice as fast as the number of miles driven," the report states.

Locally, according to advocates and community leaders, especially in the East Bay, funding cuts have hurt the most vulnerable demographics, making it difficult to get to work, to school, and to medical appointments.

"The federal government is slicing the pie for their guests without asking them how hungry they are," said Reverend Scott Denman, President of Genesis and Rector, St. John's Episcopal Church in Oakland. "As a result, some guests are overeating, others are going hungry, and might I add, some are not even invited to the party."

He continued: "Our government says it is committed to reducing our dependency on foreign oil, says it is concerned about greenhouse gases, claims that government is by the people, for the people. Nonetheless, federal policy currently encourages more cars on the road and less help for those who have no cars."

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