In 2008, voters in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties approved a ten-year parcel tax to support AC Transit service from Richmond to Hayward. The measure has raised nearly $30 million per year for essential bus service — that’s seven percent of the transit agency’s budget.
But the current parcel tax will expire in 2019, just three years away. So this November, the AC Transit board is asking voters to invest in East Bay bus service by extending this parcel tax for another twenty years.
TransForm urges Alameda County voters to vote YES on Measure C1 for operations funding that will help keep East Bay bus service reliable and affordable – especially for youth, seniors, and low-income riders.
Now more than ever, we need to make sure AC Transit has the funds it needs to provide safe, reliable bus service to the East Bay. Measure C1 funding would not be earmarked for specific improvements or bus routes, and that's a good thing. In recent years, state funding for public transportation operations has dropped, and future funding is uncertain. While state and federal capital funds continue to be available for transit expansion and equipment replacements, it’s become harder and harder to find the money needed to run the buses and pay the drivers.
At the same time, the Bay Area’s population isn’t getting any smaller. So AC Transit’s local and TransBay bus services are an important part of keeping the region out of gridlock, and ensuring that everyone can get where they need to go – regardless of age, income, or ability.
This last point merits special emphasis. As the East Bay increasingly feels the impact of the affordability crisis, and home and rent prices skyrocket due in part to overflow from unaffordable San Francisco, affordable bus fares are a critical part of the struggle to keep long-term low-income residents in their neighborhoods. AC Transit needs to be able to count on this funding to ensure that they can keep fares as low as possible and not exacerbate the affordability challenges that are pushing so many of our lower income neighbors out.
And don’t forget the climate! If you’ve been reading our blog (or any other news source) you know that 2016 is already the hottest year on record, and that despite our state’s ambitious efforts to reduce emissions, we are by no means out of the woods. Maintaining a robust public transportation system is not optional if we are going to stave off the worst effects of climate change.
Finally, as a continuation of an existing tax, the change factor is zero. Property owners have already been paying this tax for seven years, over which time the economy has rebounded greatly from the Great Recession. Surely, we can afford to keep pitching in for AC Transit now. The household savings gained by letting the tax expire ($8/month for single-family households, and less than $1/month for many multi-family buildings) would surely be eclipsed by the cost in time, stress, and money from cutting AC Transit’s budget by almost 10%.
To sum up: we need reliable, affordable bus service in the East Bay, now more than ever, to keep our communities affordable, keep traffic to a minimum, and curb our climate emissions. As a transit advocate, Oakland homeowner, and AC Transit rider, I am proud to voice TransForm’s support for this measure. Please join us in voting YES on Measure C1 this fall!
This post is part of our 2016 Election Guide.