Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Caltrain and VTA budget update

On the last night's Angie Coiro Show (6pm on KKGN 960am), Caltrain information officer Christine Dunn told the audience that Caltrain was able to narrow the budget gap to about $2 million. Because of that, Caltrain has withdrawn the plan to shutdown weekend and Gilroy service, which both proved to be very unpopular. However, Caltrain still plans to reduce midday service to hourly, increase parking fees, and increase fees for companies that buy Go passes.

Caltrain was able to narrow the budget gap by reducing administrative cost, redirect some federal funds for preventive maintenance, and stabilize fuel cost through fuel hedging.

Even though core Caltrain service may survive this year's budget cycle, the future is uncertain because of the lack of dedicated funding.

For VTA, the board is expected to approve the biannual budget at its meeting tomorrow night. The budget includes fare increases and reduction on paratransit services.

Due to the outcry from the disabled community, VTA has made some adjustments to the proposal that would cut paratransit service:

  • * Open returns - fare will be 4 times the regular paratransit fare (now twice). Only one open return can be requested per day, can only be done if space is available, among other restrictions.
  • * Second vehicle - service will be retained and will be standardized to 4 times the regular fare (now 5 times).
  • * Out of area service - service will be retained for an area within a mile beyond the 3/4 mile of a regular transit route. The premium fare for that area will be 4 times the regular fare. The current surcharge exemption in the South County will be eliminated.
  • * Extended service hours - no changes proposed, which means there will be no paratransit service at the times when regular routes are not running.

Although the revised plan has addressed some impacts on disabled riders (like those who need to travel for dialysis treatments), it will nonetheless a step backwards for an agency that has promised voters (through the 2000 Measure A) to improve paratransit service. Apparently, the VTA board was and still attached to Carl Guardino, who only considers paratransit to be a service just to attract voter support.

1 comment:

infra said...

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