Could Sacramento Regional Transit's Fare Hike Provide Cover For an Elk Grove's eTran Increase?

March 16, 2016 |

As widely reported, Sacramento Regional Transit's (RT) Board of Directors approved a fare increase at their Monday night meeting. The 10-percent one year increase, which will become effective July 1, will apply to both bus and light rail fares and is said to be needed to cover budget shortfalls.

Despite appeals from several riders at the meeting, all but three board members voted to approve the increase. One of those members voting for the hike was Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume.

In an email, Hume noted that RT has not changed fares since 2009, and that funding from Federal, state and other local sources have not increased in the intervening years. He also said the RT staff had recommended a two-year, 20-percent increase and their approved increase was in line with other similar transit agencies.

"It's an unfortunate situation, but with deleted reserves and an ongoing structural deficit, there are few options," Hume noted.

Like RT, the Elk Grove City Council is facing some operational decisions regarding the city's eTran bus service. Among those decisions are whether or not to cut commuter bus service to Downtown Sacramento in favor of feeding those riders to RT's Blue Line light rail, and if should fares be raised.

The last time Elk Grove raised fares was in 2010 when it increased general fares from $1.25 to its current level of $2.25 per ride. 

When the City Council contemplated the operational changes last May, the idea of increasing some fares was floated by Council Member Steve Detrick. Focusing on the particular routes, Detrick suggested users of the city's very popular Downtown express commuters bus pay higher rates.  

"There needs to be some better sharing from the commuters on the expenses," Detrick said. "My recommendation would be that we have a commuter add-on feature, you have the base price, whatever it is, $50, $100 per month." 

The City Council has deferred any decisions on route changes to eTran services and fares, and in an election year where three sitting council member are on the November ballot, it would be surprising if the matter came up for consideration anytime between now and the general election. Nonetheless, given the city's 2017 budget will be considered in the next few months, the RT fare increase could provide cover for the council should they want to plan for it now.    

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Elk Grove taxpayer and registered voter said...

Let's go back in time, to the year 2000 when Elk Grove incorporated and ask ourselves whether Elk Grove taxpayers are better off supporting our own bus system or contracting with RT, the regional bus service provider at the time.

I'm not sure whether the negotiations were done in good faith, or whether our new city leaders had their preferred option in place before they even sat at the table with RT. The story at the time was RT was not responsive to our local transit needs, so off we went to buy a load of used buses and a lucrative contract for operation and maintenance which continues to this day.

From a bottom line dollars and cents standpoint, I have a hard time believing that RT would not have been the better choice to serve Elk Grove, particularly since they serve Galt and have to drive our way anyways. Sixteen years later, I still ask myself whether this was one of the biggest blunders of our leaders in their quest to build their empire on our dime. Whether they raise the fare because RT is doing it, does not make my pocketbook feel any better.

A Voter said...

Steve “The Mentor” Detrick wants to raise E-tran fares $50 to $100? Is he crazy? But then again, he is a politician who illegally spent $95,300 from his campaign account for personal use. What would he know about E-tran riders who live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have an extra $1,200 a year? If Detrick has any extra expenses, it appears he finds a way to funnel them through his campaign account, doesn’t he?

We need to Dump Detrick come November!

Mellow Rooser said...

We'd sure hear about it if a water ski tax was being proposed!

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