Advocates and Officials Rally to Save Transit
7:11 AM PDT on June 6, 2023
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Advocates held mock funerals Saturday in Oakland and San Francisco for BART, Muni, AC Transit, and other agencies that could be forced to make severe service cuts depending on ongoing budget negotiations in Sacramento. From coverage in SFGate:
BART issued a statement last week outlining what those cuts would look like were the agency to go "plunging off the fiscal cliff" without state funding for transit operations: Trains would only run once an hour and never after 9 p.m., there'd be no service on weekends and some stations, along with entire lines, would close completely. SFMTA said in a similar statement that without the necessary funding, Muni service would need to be scaled back to what it was at the height of the pandemic – that means 40 percent fewer Muni routes and no service after 10 p.m.
All the major and minor advocacy organizations in the Bay Area participated and are working to apply pressure to Governor Newsom and lawmakers.
The rally succeeded in bringing media attention to the issue (see more in the SFStandard, SFChronicle, NBCBayArea, theFrisc, CBS). Advocates are again urging members to keep the pressure on. From Streetsblog ally Friends of Caltrain:
Can you call the governor and the top legislative leaders NOW to save transit? We need to burn up their phone lines as they are negotiating. Lunchtime or any time during business hours is good.
The state's top leaders are negotiating potential funding now, but the legislative budget proposals on the table don't yet provide enough funding to prevent major cuts.
So far, the main funding on the table would cannibalize funding for major capital projects - abandoning over $6 billion in federal funding - or leaving the Bay Area with a life-size train museum - major stations echoing without train service.
Negotiations are in the hands of the state's top leaders - Governor Newsom, Budget Chairs Ting and Skinner, Senate President Pro Tem Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Rendon. Incoming Assembly Speaker Rivas is waiting in the wings.
Caltrain, BART, SFMTA and AC Transit are facing potentially disastrous service cuts if the transit fiscal cliff is is not averted.
Here's how you can help now - before the June 15 budget deadline:
* During business hours, make quick phone calls to Governor Newsom and top negotiators. We need to burn up their phone lines.
* Send a letter to the state's top leaders letting them know that we can't maintain the state's economy and meet our climate goals if public transit collapses
* Sign up to volunteer to hand out flyers on trains, buses and ferries
Legislators are negotiating accountability measures to make sure that agencies are committed to improving service, regrowing ridership, and long-term financial sustainability. But these improvements won't happen if we don't ward off the fiscal cliff - your help is important.
Streetsblog can only echo this message! Be sure to make yourself heard in Sacramento.