In July, Santa Rosa CityBus received a Recovery Act grant of $4.2 million for paratransit services, solar bus shelters and eligible operating assistance.
This grant prevented service cuts and fare increases, and helped save 10 jobs--mechanics and bus drivers--in a city where unemployment is running nearly a full percentage point higher than the national average.
CityBus is the municipal transit system for Santa Rosa, California. Now, Santa Rosa has a population of 160,000, but if you consider the surrounding area, it has an urbanized area population of 487,000.
So its CityBus, in addition to providing paratransit services, has 36 fixed route buses, operates 17 fixed routes, and provides 2.9 million trips annually. CityBus riders tend to include low income earners, disabled people, seniors, and students.
Unfortunately, during 2009, sales tax revenue decreased by over 10% in Sonoma County. Plus, California effectively eliminated its State Transit Assistance funds. These two sources, plus fares, are the primary sources of operating funds for CityBus, and, as you can imagine, this shortfall was devastating.
Service cuts and fare increases seemed unavoidable.
But, because of prior fiscal prudence and the ability to use ARRA funds for operating and capitalized maintenance, CityBus has been able to maintain existing service levels without raising fares!
CityBus is now one of the only transit operators in the Bay Area able to avoid service cuts and fare increases since the recession began.
I'll say it again: No service cuts and no fare increases occurred through all of 2009. And that is expected to hold true through 2010.
So am I.