The City’s Transit Task Force has actually stood up to staff in defense of bus riders!
Historically the Task Force has operated as rubber-stamp for the staff against bus riders.
The good thing has been that they haven’t had much influence with members of the Mayor and Council.
Councilwoman Uhlichs’ recent appointment of Suzanne Shaffer to the task force seems to have been a positive influence.
Thanks to Gene Caywood, chair of the Task Force, for getting the following letter to the Mayor and Council before today’s May 6th Council meeting:
Transit Task Force City of Tucson
May 5, 2014
Honorable Mayor Rothschild and City Council Members
City of Tucson, Arizona
The Mayor and City Council appointed Transit Task Force (TTF) met on April 28, 2014 and discussed the Title VI Fare and Service Equity Analysis of the effect on ethnic minorities and people of low income by raising bus fares and undertaking a number of system changes. The analysis found, according to federal guidelines, that there were no disparate or disproportionate impacts. The task force was concerned about that finding, and passed a motion to send you this letter outlining our displeasure with the process, and thus the finding.
Because 67.6% of the bus ridership is classified as low income, and 20.95% of the City of Tucson population is low income, any change in bus fares or service will disproportionately impact the poor of our community, compared to the impact on those above the poverty line.
The same reasoning holds true for the minority populations. Sixty-two percent of the Sun Tran fixed route ridership identifies themselves as a member of a minority population, and according to the census 39.8% of the Tucson population is Hispanic. Therefore, any change in the bus service disproportionately affects the minority people of our community compared to the majority.
Thus the TTF feels strongly that the proposed changes would have a disparate or disproportionate impact, even though the analysis (following the federal guidelines) states the opposite. In other words, the TTF does not think the federal process gives an accurate picture of the true impact on low income and minority populations, and therefore declined to support the analysis done by staff following those guidelines.
Comments of the TTF in arriving at this position centered around the fact that the task force understands the need for reductions in service but is not pleased with them.We do not support service reductions that are geared solely toward cost-cutting rather than toward enhancing the overall effectiveness of the route network. Since increasing transit use as a portion of overall travel throughout the region is a stated goal of both Tucson and Pima County, system changes should be made in response to demand and to opportunities for improved access to jobs and services. At our May 12 meeting we expect to receive Sun Tran’s final recommendations for service changes and develop a response based on the above principles.
We are proud of our community that it is willing to support people of low income by providing a good transit system with a low fare that enables them to go to work, to take care of personal business like shopping, and to participate in the rich cultural and recreational life of this city. Thank you for your continued effort to keep fares low and support a level of transit service that makes this possible.
Chair, Transit Task Force
cc: Transit Task Force
Daryl W. Cole, Director of Transportation
Carlos de Leon, Deputy Director of Transportation
Kate Riley, Sun Tran/ Van Tran General Manager