In Board Item 8, SacRT staff proposed fare reductions, reinstating transfers, and increasing weekend service on light rail. SacTRU believes access to public transportation is a civil right and that affordable and efficient public transit is imperative in order to ensure that low-income and vulnerable communities have access to inclusive economic growth in our region. We commend the staff for putting together this proposal that will increase equity and access for transit dependent riders in our region.
In a time when many transit agencies are facing ridership decline we applaud SacRT’s staff for proposing such innovative and equitable proposals to begin to address the issue. In 2016 we opposed the 10% fare increases because of the negative impact that they would have on ridership and the disparate impact it would have on transit dependent riders. The purpose of the SacRT is to promote and improve access in the Sacramento region by providing safe, reliable, and fiscally responsible transit service that links people to resources and opportunities. While the fare reductions do not fully undo the 2016 increases, we believe it is a positive step towards making our system more affordable and accessible for our communities and will have a positive impact on riders’ lives.
We are glad to see staff begin to address fare equity for riders who pay cash fares but are denied the free 90 minute transfer that riders using the Connect Card and mobile fares receive. SacRT is a very transfer-dependent system and the elimination of transfers imposed a significant barrier to new riders. We believe this proposal will make using our public transit system more affordable and easier to navigate for riders.
Our riders are thrilled to have increased weekend service on light rail. This change can truly make a difference in transit dependent riders’ lives. One of our members shouted with joy that now she would be able to visit her elderly mother on the weekends without having to worry about long wait times in the heat. We hope that this will help SacRT’s ROS project achieve our members’ request for a more complete system and service coverage on weekends so that riders are better connected to essential services, hospitals, work, family and leisure activities.
SacTRU looks forward to working with SacRT to leverage these positive changes into ridership growth. We look forward to seeing the projected ridership increase and hope that these changes will be made permanent in the future. We thank staff for their hard work on this proposal.