Save Our Transit - Victory in 2003!
In April 2003, the
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) staff recommended
budget proposes a 21% reduction in bus and light rail services. This
would have come on top of three straight years of service cuts. A
broad coalition of groups, coordinated by TALC, developed the Save
Our Transit budget alternative (see alternative below). This
alternative called on VTA to halt these cuts by identifying stopgap
sources of funding, thus avoiding the disastrous social impacts of
cutting service, when there is a chance it would be reinstated in
2005 (additional resources maybe be obtained in a countywide
election in November 2004). The Save Our Transit alternative was
championed by 20 groups ranging from the Sierra Club to the
Community Homeless Alliance Ministry.
After four months of grassroots efforts, two rallies, one-on-one
visits with Board members, and a comprehensive media campaign to get
articles, editorials, and op-eds supporting our recommendations (read
Stuart Cohen’s op-ed), we achieved an incredible
victory. On June 5, 2003, the same VTA Board that had ignored our
pleas over the last two years finally acted on the overwhelming
outcry from the community - they adopted the core of the Save Our
Transit alternative and deferred the cuts.
pressure was backed up by
Transportation Injustice, a
hard-hitting TALC report released in March 2003. The report
outlined how the cuts could be avoided, especially if VTA is willing
to be flexible on when the wildly over-budget BART extension to San
Jose is built. TRANSDEF also played an important role by providing
legal analysis indicating that, contrary to what VTA’s legal opinion
asserted, VTA could use 2000 Measure A funds to fund bus service.
Working Partnerships, USA, and Bob Brownstein in particular deserve
tremendous praise for elevating this issue and providing insightful,
and convincing analysis. There was also great
support from the
Mercury News, including their
June 3 editorial.