I haven’t had a chance to write about it here yet, but I’ve been thinking about Measure V V a lot lately. Measure V V, if passed, would increase an existing parcel tax by $4 per month and extend the tax for 10 years in order to fill AC Transit’s budget gap. If this measure does not pass (and it needs 2/3 support to pass), AC Transit will be forced raise fares AND decrease service.
If you’re a regular reader, I think you’ll know why I think this is bad news. I depend on AC Transit to get around, and though I could afford increased fares, I know many others could not. Also, I could not afford decreased service. I depend on AC Transit to get me to work and meetings on time, which it usually succeeds in doing, but decreased service would make this much harder to accomplish.
Now you might be thinking – why is AC Transit having these problems in the first place? If they had planned better, couldn’t they have avoided this budget gap altogether? I strongly believe the answer is no.
See, two things happened this year that hurt transit agencies throughout the state (and in many other states). We all know that gas prices have skyrocketed, but you might not have realized how much this has effected AC Transit. Every $.10 increase per gallon increase adds $650,000 annually to AC Transit’s costs, which means that the rise in gas prices this year has added several million dollars to the budget.
AC Transit might have been able to plug this budget gap, but then the state came in and took funding away from all local transit agencies to close their own budget. AC Transit lost $15 million in state funding, which turned the small budget gap into a HUGE gap that clearly could not be filled just by tightening expenses.
So back in May, the AC Transit Board of Directors proposed several plans to increase fares and held a community meeting to seek input. I attended this meeting, where more than 50 people spoke out against the proposed fare increases. I left that meting feeling really good. It felt that the board members had listened to the community and were genuinely concerned about the effect a fare increase would have, especially on youth and seniors.
Apparently, the board did listen because instead of increasing fares, AC Transit put Measure V V on the ballot. But if VV loses, fare increases and service decreases will immediately be back on the table. So if you value transit, vote yes on Measure V V.