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New group rallies today to fight for funds for AC Transit

By dcuff
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 1:50 pm in Uncategorized.

Public transit advocates are staging a rally in downtown Oakland at 5:15 p.m. this evening to push elected East Bay officials to fight for greater funding to undo service cuts in the AC Transit bus system.

The rally at the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway is the debut of a coalition called the AC Transit Accountability Campaign. The advocates contend elected federal, state, county, and city officials from the East Bay should work as hard to secure funding to avoid or undo AC Transit bus service cuts as those officials did to secure funding for BART’s $484 million rail extension to the Oakland International Airport. A ceremonial groundbreaking on the rail project was held last month in Oakland.

“We want to see elected officials fight for AC Transit the same way they fought for the airport project,” said Bob Allen, Urban Habitat’s transportation justice program associate.

Several elected officials are expected to join the rally today.

Allen acknowledges it will be no easy feat to secure more money for AC Transit. The agency cut service more than 7 percent in March, another 7.5 percent Oct. 31, and plans another cut of about 6 percent on Dec. 16.

AC Transit officials said they reluctantly made the cuts in response to raids on local transit funds over years and a recession-related drop in sales tax that has hammered transit agencies all over the state.

Allen said said there are some potential new money sources. They include Congress’ upcoming reauthorization of the federal transportation bill, the development of Alameda County and Bay Area transportation plans, and Alameda County’s future consideration of going to voters to  reauthorize the Measure B sales tax for transportation.

The new coalition to fight for AC Transit funding represents many groups, including  Urban Habitat, Genesis, Public Advocates, and the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

“Fighing to preserve bus service doesn’t get politicians any golden shovels at groundbreakings,” Allen said, “but it’s important to protecting service for people who are dependent on bus service to get around.”

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