Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

FAST fare hike is unfair

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From page A11 | February 12, 2014 | 9 Comments

The Solano Transportation Authority and the Fairfield City Council should not approve the proposed Fairfield and Suisun Transit fare hike because it is based on incomplete revenue and ridership models.

The City’s consultant only modeled revenue and ridership changes for FY 2014-15 which found that ridership on Route 30 from Fairfield to Sacramento is estimated to decline 1 percent and revenue is expected to increase 4 percent annually. Without models for FY 2015-2021, it is impossible to know if the proposed increases will help the FAST system collect the estimated $600,000 in annual revenue needed to support operating costs and build a reserve for bus replacements.

It is unconscionable that under the proposal, the average annual increase for Route 30 is approximately 7.8 percent or 54 percent more than seven years. The increases far exceed any pay raise or cost of living adjustment that the few people who still get raises would ever receive.

From the beginning, fares on Route 30 were deeply discounted, a decision that was shortsighted and impossible to sustain. In order to close the gap, the discount will decrease from 43 percent to 27 percent to make it more comparable to other area transit systems. This is never a good reason to raise fares.

The proposal also offers no solution to the severe parking shortage at the Fairfield Transportation Center. Riders will be charged an additional $25 monthly to park in the garage without a guarantee that space will be available. The City has been unsuccessful negotiating with Target and Home Depot to allow commuters to park in their lots. It is difficult to believe these two national companies are unwilling to support partnerships that promote public transit. City officials should try harder to make this happen.

At the very least, any increase beyond FY 2014-2015 should be postponed until accurate models for revenue and ridership changes can be completed and thoroughly analyzed, and immediate solutions for the parking shortage can be implemented.

Angela Wilson Jones

Fairfield

Letter to the Editor

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Discussion | 9 comments

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 12, 2014 - 6:39 am

    I agree Angela, this is pathetic. They can't keep raising prices and reducing service. They are going to charge $25 a month for a long shot? I hope nobody parks there! I'm curious about the availability of the old Green Valley Ford lot on Oliver Rd. Has anyone looked into that? How about the empty car lots out there on Auto Mall Parkway, they’re huge. Surely something could be worked out with them? If nothing else, there is plenty of property near the new DMV, maybe that's an option? A shuttle service could make these locations viable.

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  • LilFebruary 12, 2014 - 11:15 am

    We actually have taken to parking on the side streets of the new DMV. The walk in the morning is not bad but a woman has been confronted by a homeless person walking back at night. That stretch is SCARY at night. The city has looked into the Green Valley Ford lot on Oliver and they have been saying for two years that it will be ready in the Fall. So far, nothing. I have given up on Fairfield Transit. I drive to Bart or pick up casual carpoolers and drive into SF. Yes, I have to pay for parking in SF but it is better than paying to get my car out of a tow yard in Fairfield (which has happened to quite a number of people).

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 12, 2014 - 12:30 pm

    Lil, you're my "go to" person when it comes to the Transportation Center! I know you've suffered awhile so wondering what your thoughts might be on the vacant car lots? Also, has there been any discussion regarding shuttles for convenience and safety?

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  • LilFebruary 12, 2014 - 7:42 pm

    I wrote a pretty lengthy email to the Transportation Director and one of the questions I asked - "How about all those empty lots on Auto Row Drive? There are several lots that are sometimes used for Christmas Tree Lots, some that are not. Has the city reached out to them?" His response: "To my knowledge, the only properties not currently occupied by active businesses have limited paving and lighting, so they would require even more extensive (and expensive) improvements to use as parking lots. Before we acquired the Oliver Road property we were trying to acquire a site on Auto Mall Drive, but were unsuccessful. The property there is more valuable too, and the total cost of a project would be much higher than the one we are working on now on Oliver Road." So it is better to have people park all over the place on their own then have them park in a lot that is not properly paved. Since there isn't any alternatives actually in place, I have never brought up shuttles. We need a place to be shuttled to before we have to worry about actually having shuttles.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 13, 2014 - 6:19 am

    Lil, thanks for that! At least there are people talking about this, that's a step in the right direction! I do believe however, that a shuttle, security and safety for vehicles and riders should be considered as part of the package throughout the planning process.

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  • Rosemarie GibbsFebruary 12, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    I am glad this discussion is taking place. Public transportation should be be affordable and convenient for all who are contributing to it. The Solano Transit Authority, FAST and the City Council should be made aware that they "just aren't playing fair"! Commuters should have a say and the ones in control need to be more transparent in how and where the money is being utilized. Please postpone your decision until you have truly weighed all your options. I am positive that this fare increase will surely cause an increase in drivers taking other measures to get to work, more cars on the road and then what do we have? If possible, attend the February 12th meeting at 701 Civic Center Boulevard, Suisun City or the February 18th meeting at 1000 Webster Street, Fairfield.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 13, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    We went for a drive today looking around the area of the Transportation Center for possible parking sites, temporary or otherwise. There is a perfect parcel of land just across the creek (with a neat little bridge) from Home Depot. Security for patrons and their vehicles would seem simple enough and a shuttle unnecessary. Asphalt or alternative materials with some lighting should prove ample. Of course there are dollars attached to everything but if we want the system to work it has to be safe affordable and efficient. I don’t use the system but if I did, I would not be averse to a parking fee so long as I’m guaranteed a spot. Other areas like the old Wal-Mart and fields along Auto Mall Parkway are okay, but a shuttle of some sort would also be required.

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  • LilFebruary 13, 2014 - 4:55 pm

    There is an empty lot on the other side of the DMV that we were looking at today. It has some weeds growing through the asphalt but all four of us in my car said we would be glad to come down with weedeaters and clean it up. That lot has not been used in at least 20 years. I find it hard to believe that it can't be leased at a reasonable price. We don't need someplace fancy to park it should be fine. Everybody was also fine with paying a parking fee if we were guaranteed a spot. There is an entire part of the Target lot that nobody parks on, never has, way off by Beck Street. We would be willing to sign a waiver freeing Target of all liability to be able to park there. It would not be interfering with customer parking. But nope, either the Transit people haven't asked or Target has said no. Not sure which. I called Target and spoke to their manager and he was understanding about the parking problem and I thought the Transit director would be able to work out a deal with him. But that was six months ago. Not a word. All we hear is that one day far far in the future, the lot on Oliver Road will be open.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 13, 2014 - 5:09 pm

    Thanks Lil! Somebody needs to get busy.

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