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Due to drastic cuts in California State budget, AC Transit has proposed yet another round of cutbacks in bus service. Already, the agency is way beyond “cutting into bone”. Whereas the State’s roads and highways have benefited from Federal Stimulus largess, no such program has come to the rescue of local bus agencies.

When the State Legislature passed a law allowing local counties to increase their Vehicle License Fee (VLF), a huge opportunity presented itself for financial bailout of the beleaguered bus agency. So, how has Alameda County proposed to use this new VLF funding mechanism? Yep, to fund more road construction:

Alameda County voters will decide Nov. 2 whether to pay an extra $10 in their vehicle registration fee to fix potholes and fight traffic gridlock…The ballot measure, which needs a simple majority vote to pass, would raise about $11 million per year from the 1.1 million vehicles in Alameda County. Transportation officials said they need a new stable money source to help improve the poor condition of city and county roads hurt by declining state assistance and shrinking tax revenues during the recession. “The bulk of the money from this measure is going to go into local roads,” said Mark Green, Union City mayor and chairman of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency board.

To put in perspective, $11 million/year is the size of latest round of cuts, and represents a 7.2% reduction in service. It is also worth comparing Alameda County CMA to other counties. Sonoma County really puts Alameda to shame. Sonoma County proposes to spend 60% of VLF funds on transit service, and 12% would go towards walking, biking, and safe-routes-to-schools program.

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