by Brian Flagg,
You don’t believe me? You should have been at last night’s (Wed. 2/19) City Council Meeting!
More than 200 people showed up to say to the Council: DON’T RAISE BUS FARES – DON’T BALANCE YOUR BUDGET ON THE BACKS OF TUCSON BUSRIDERS LIVING IN POVERTY!
This event was sponsored by the Tucson Bus Riders Union and a good time was had by all.
One hundred more bus riders signed up for the Union. They received an official laminated TBRU membership card with their pictures in addition to bright yellow TBRU t-shirts (thanks to Dwight Metzger and The Gloo Factory). The birria, rice and beans whipped up by las chicas de Casa Maria was delicious. And 25 monthly bus passes were raffled thanks to a donation from our good friend Roger Clifton.
The good part of the meeting was Councilwoman Karen Uhlich leading all the other council members against the transit bureaucrats’ insulting and insincere plan to slash $4 million from the transit budget by decreasing the frequency of buses on almost all the routes.
The bad part of the meeting was the 5-2 vote to balance the budget on the backs of poor bus riders by raising fares. So now there will be public hearings that the Feds say must take place before these fare increases are implemented. Stay tuned!
Richard Fimbres and Karen voted against the fare increase. Karen boldly told her colleagues: “I think it’s important to put staff and management on notice that I think fare increases should be the last resort for balancing our budget, not the first as it seems to have been the last five years.”
As reported in the Daily Star (2/20/14) she said she “felt the numbers provided by the staff were too conservative and said the gap would likely be much smaller once all the actual figures are calculated.”
Karen’s colleagues, save for Richard, need to be enlightened.
What this award-winning bus system needs is more ridership and studies show that fare increases drive down ridership, thus decreasing revenues.
They also need to realize that three of them, Romero, Cunningham and Rothschild are up for re-election in 2015. The overwhelming Democratic voters of Tucson are a generous and compassionate bunch who won’t be excited about voting for Democratic politicians who needlessly increase the suffering of poor people.
They need to be very clear that the Bus Riders Union, in one way or another, intends to make this a major issue in the next election .