October 12, 2007

MTS AND SANDAG FARE ORDINANCE IS UNJUST

Community Organizations Unite to Push Back

On Friday October 5, 2007, the SANDAG Transportation Committee held a public hearing on the proposed amendments to the transit fare ordinance. The proposed changes include increases in the cost of monthly passes, increases in cash fares, and the elimination of transfers. After January 1, riders will have to pay the full fare on each bus as they move from one bus to another to get to their destination - or purchase a $5.00 day pass. This will drastically affect low income individuals, seniors, disabled, students, and the environment!

These proposed changes were made to cover MTS’s budget shortfalls. In May of 2007, MTS was notified that budgeted state and local subsidies were less than originally anticipated: $1.1 million less for FY 2007, over $8.0 million less for FY 2008, and nearly $13 million less for FY 2009. In addition, the approved FY 2008 State budget reduced funding to MTS by over $15 million. Immediate actions by the MTS Board were necessary in order to adopt a balanced budget for FY 2008 and they opted to balance their budget on the backs of the poor, elderly, and disabled!

At the October 5th Public Hearing SANDAG made the necessary findings that the proposed amendments to the Regional Comprehensive Fare Ordinance will NOT have a disproportionate impact on low income and minority passengers. This analysis was necessary due to Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act which states, in part, that low income and minority communities can not be disproportionately affected by transit policy. Additionally, Title VI and the Environmental Justice Executive Order require MTS and SANDAG to take affirmative action to ensure that low income and minority communities, and their community representatives, should be involved in the decision making process. We do not believe that has occurred in this case.

A number of organizations present at the hearing believe that MTS and SANDAG are not in compliance with Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act. The changes will drastically and disproportionately affect low income communities in addition to seniors, the disabled, students, and the environment! Therefore, we united to form the “Citizens for Effective Transportation” Coalition. We believe that public transit has an important place in the continued balance of economic growth and quality of life in San Diego County. We seek to work with the various transit agencies to find effective funding strategies that will meet our current needs while building a more stable and viable transit development plan. We want to work towards a system that is sustainable and easy to use by all members of the community, so that it is not merely a system relegated to the last choice of the poor, elderly, and disabled.

On October 18th, MTS will hold a public hearing from 9am-12pm, at 12th and Imperial (10th Floor). There, we will bring our varied bases and demand an extension to the decision and the formation of a joint working group which includes the organizations which make up our coalition. We have many issues with the proposed changes, however, given time restraints, our priorities are: 1.) Extend the decision 2.) Bring us to the table to work on solutions.

WHAT: MTS will hold a public hearing
WHEN: Thursday, October 18th, from 9am-12pm
WHERE: MTS Building downtown at 12th and Imperial (10th Floor).

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