Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meeting write-up

Okay. So I promised a write-up on the public meeting held at RTA headquarters regarding the coming service cuts, so here it is. No promises on being cheery.

The meeting was run by Scott Richardson, Director of Planning. Two other office-y folks were in attendance, but I didn't catch their names.
Mr. Richardson assured the public of the necessity of cutting service, and the sheer abject poverty facing the transit agency. He explained that transit funding in this county comes primarily from sales taxes, and, since sales taxes are down, so is RTA's funding.

I spoke first for the public, delivering my petition (301 signatures) and a short speech on how public transit is the best deal out there for suffering Riverside County residents. Mr. Richardson acknowledged that I had good points, but also said it didn't change anything.

After me spoke Art Guerrero, ATU shop steward for the operators at RTA. He was concerned that the 14 would be run along the CA-91 freeway. He made a powerful, empassioned plea for the people who rode his route, saying that a freeway routing would bypass several important destinations. It moved everyone there nearly to tears. He was then told that the 14 will remain on Indiana, with no plans for a freeway routing.
I'll also mention that Mr. Guerrero said that there will be 20-30 layoffs of drivers at RTA. As a union rep, I'm sure he knows.

After Mr. Guerrero were two women from the CSU San Bernardino social work program. They'd apparently held a public meeting in Highgrove and asked RTA for additional service to their local community center. (You girls have got cajones, by the way. Even I'm not aggressive enough to ask for MORE service right now.) The RTA drivers on hand said that there was a feasible re-routing of 25 that was available. Mr. Richardson said he'd "certainly look at it."

The aftermath of the meeting was basically this: There's no money. Service is getting cut. The only question at this point is, what service, and the routes under consideration have been identified by RTA as the least-patronized. Mr. Richardson told us all that, if we want to save a route, we should ride it.

That's a good idea...

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