Public transit budget grab was illegal, court says


this poster should have
been illegal too

News & Review’s Cosmo Garvin blogs about Regional Transit’s EPIC WIN last week when the California 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled (in the case SHAW et al. v. THE PEOPLE ex rel. CHIANG, as Controller, etc., et al.) that a portion of the money taken from Public Transportation Account in the last 3 budget years must be repaid. Garvin points out that there is obviously no money in the state’s wallet to pay out, so it remains to be seen what will happen.

What should happen, to borrow a phrase, is the political heads of Gov. Schwarzenegger and many other elected officials on a platter. What would happen to a businessperson who shifted money around in order to pay his company’s bills and did something illegal?

Silver lining on RT’s 2009 rate increase

If you’re an RT user I’m sure you know that fares are going up in 2009. An extra two bits for a single fare, and actually also an extra quarter for a transfer, up to 50 cents. So a basic ticket plus transfer is $2.75, almost double the same type of fare on SF Muni, I’m discouraged to learn. However I suppose you could pretend that all of SF would be within the “Central City zone” for Sac RT, in which case a comparable fee will only be $1.60. But that takes some pretending.

However, the silver lining is that RT riders will not experience any service cuts when 2009 comes. In fact, according to the latest “Next Stop News” the only service changes will actually be additional service on several lines.

I like RT’s General Manager Mike Wiley’s moxie; the press release about 2009 fare increases quotes Wiley: “RT could not absorb an $18.3 million raid by the state of California without asking our riders to pay more…”

What do you think though, RT riders? Increased costs or service cuts? Are you going to be happy to pay more knowing that at least for the time being you won’t have to deal with changes to your route?

Railyards project receives cash

As reported by the Biz Journal, the city has received an additional $17.9 million in funds tied to the almost $24 billion transportation and infrastructure money approved by us voters in 2006. Construction on the railyards is supposed to begin next year.

The money approved in prop 1B is for “creating infrastructure and affordable housing near transit.” Somewhat ironically, $18 million is exactly the amount Regional Transit expects to lose when the budget is passed. (although by the time the budget is passed we’ll all be tooling around in jet-packs.) Perhaps some of that money can be redirected toward transit near which to build more affordable housing?

Maybe this will attract Brangelina

A bevy of local organizations is convening a “Sanframento” conference to discuss issues that concern the blurry econotransport* line between our conveniently located and charming town with the bay area.

No joke.

Along with UC Davis, this Thursday’s event will is being spearheaded by regional planning agencies and transportation authorities.

Note to sac-eats: Be sure to clear your schedule so you can weigh in with your SMEP! scheme. (As a former employee of a regional planning agency, I can say with great authority that yours would not be the most out-there idea presented in such a forum.)

*my own hybrid word of “economy” and “transportation”

Morning conversation

Actual conversation I had this morning while waiting for a bus by the Downtown Plaza:

SCENE: Downtown plaza. COOLDMZ, casually dressed and devestatingly handsome, is approached by normal seeming early 20s YOUNG MAN.

YOUNG MAN: (Looking at the cloudless sky) Beautiful day.
COOLDMZ: Yeah… Bit chilly, but nice. It’s going to be in the 60s today.
YOUNG MAN: Yeah, it’s nice. (Beat.) So, what do you think of this North American Union they’re gonna do?
COOLDMZ: The what now?
Continue reading “Morning conversation”

More traffic problems for I-5 corridor in ’08

One of my favorite Bee columns, Back-Seat Driver, reports today on CalTrans’ new plan to shut down lanes and onramps on I-5 in downtown.

Beginning in February or March and lasting through October, Caltrans will close one or two freeway lanes in each direction from Richards Boulevard on the north to the I-5 junction with Highway 50 on the south.

That will leave three lanes open in each direction, Dinger said.

Key ramps, such as the commuter-heavy I and A street connections also will be closed at points during the year

Apparently there are drainage problems there and it leaks, and therefore flood danger in the long run. But holy smokes, that does not sound like a fun 2008 for commuters or people flying on airplanes. Bizjak says this is the busiest strectch of I-5 north of Los Angeles. (Yay Sacramento!) I’m sure RT and the city have some ideas to alleviate the problem though… Continue reading “More traffic problems for I-5 corridor in ’08”

Happy Birthday, Light Rail!

Sacramento’s starter line opened 20 years ago, and Regional Transit is celebrating by offering free rides all day on Friday, September 14th.

Sure, our light rail system doesn’t get you EVERYWHERE you want to go, but think of it as an actual 20 year old:

– It thinks it can do everything

– It still mooches off others for funding

– It still hasn’t quite decided where it wants to go in life, but definitely has big aspirations

Like many modern 20 year olds, it is also bilingual. “Empuje para abrir las puertas.”

So, get on out there and ride those rails — you never know what you’ll hear!

Public hearing tonight on RT changes

Even though the state budget is not yet complete, Regional Transit is planning to reduce its operations due to the probable inclusion in that budget of $1.3 billion in public transit cuts. In addition to internal cost-saving measures it looks like RT is set to make changes to 20 or more routes. Sac RT has released an announcement with a list of routes slated for trimming (PDF). RT Rider blog has more documents to peruse. RT Driver had some pretty tough words for the RT leadership when the announcement of Arnold’s cuts came out.

There is a public hearing about the proposed cuts tonight at 6 p.m. at the 29th and N RT office.

In honor of the 50E, my line of choice and one of the doomed routes, check out “Stockton Boulevard” by Stars & Garters on Chris Macias’ Sunday Single…