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04.29.09

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News Blast

By P. Joseph Potocki


Bus riders bypassed

As the Great Recession steamrolls over the North Bay job market, low-income persons and laid-off job seekers need dependable mass transit more than ever. And yet, despite increasing demand for bus service, fully 20 percent of Sonoma County Transit's (SCT) bus runs are expected to be eliminated by the end of June. This, according to SCT's own "Service Reduction Proposal," a 36-page document detailing the cutbacks.

As was feared, the California State revised budget, signed into law by the governor back in February, eliminates all State Transit Assistance funds for the next five years. These vehicle fuel sales tax revenues have provided a substantial portion of the funding for many of the state's transit authorities, and SCT is being hit particularly hard by their elimination.

But what about monies earmarked for mass transit through the recent federal stimulus package? These funds, it was hoped, would relieve painful mass transit budget shortfalls across the nation. Sonoma County Transit's portion of the stimulus, however, merely offsets a nearly 10 percent revenue loss in Transportation Development Act funding, leaving SCT with close to a $1 million in unfunded deficit to deal with this year.

Service cuts are bound to be felt by SCT riders. According to the plan, more than 46 hours of bus service will be axed daily should the plan be enacted. Some routes will be completely eliminated, while most others, including ridership-heavy inter-city runs like route numbers 44 and 48, will be trimmed back.

Sonoma County Transit's Service Reduction plan will be discussed, critiqued and commented upon at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, at 2:10pm in the meeting room of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, County Administration Center, 575 Administration Drive, Room 102-A, Santa Rosa. Comments are welcomed by SCT at 800.346.7433 or via email at comments@sctransit.com.


'Nickel and dimed' in napa

Though National Affordable Housing Week doesn't begin until May 11, Napa Valley Community Housing, a nonprofit that "builds, maintains and manages affordable housing throughout the county of Napa" for low- and moderate-income earners, just can't wait. They kick festivities off early with a launch party and "Community Book Challenge" at Copperfield's Books in Napa on Thursday, May 7, from 7pm to 9pm. The housing group is asking participants to read Barbara Ehrenreich's undercover tell-it-like-it-is exposť on working hard for peanuts, titled Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Refreshments will be served. RSVP is requested, but no one will be turned away. For additional info, call Ruth Matz at 707.257.2844.


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