The AC Transit board of directors voted yesterday to screw over both low-income riders and voters by raising fares after they promised they wouldn't. The basic rider fare will jump 14 percent from $1.75 to $2.00. The fare hike will especially hurt low-income riders who depend on AC Transit to get around. The decision also is a slap in the face to voters who approved a $15 million annual parcel tax last November after the board assured them that the tax would avoid a fare increase. AC Transit justified breaking its promise by blaming the recession and cutbacks in state funding, which have led to a $57 million projected deficit.
The agency also likely will slash bus service in the coming months. However, it has yet to show the courage to cut wasteful spending inside its main office in downtown Oakland. How about a top-to-bottom review of management employees to determine whether they're really essential? And while you're at it, how about cutting the salaries of overpaid managers? It's always easier for a public agency to gouge its customers than its bureaucracy. For AC Transit, it's standard operating procedure. Taxpayers are suckers if they approve another parcel tax for this agency. And you gotta figure AC Transit will begging for more soon, because the fare increase and service cuts more than likely will result in fewer riders, thereby offsetting revenue generated by the fare hike.