As it stands, without new revenue in 2014, Santa Fe Trails will face cuts in the near future.
Congress has continually failed to meet the needs of our communities. Bus ridership is growing across the country, yet federal funding for it is dwindling. Bus riders everywhere face ongoing threats of cuts and fare hikes. Cities like Santa Fe are often the first to see federal funding cuts. Santa Fe Trails has lost almost 90% of federal funding in recent years.
But the problem is also local. In 2011, the city of Santa Fe made less money than expected from Gross Receipts Taxes – a local sales tax. This led some politicians to threaten to cut transit and other essential services. Chainbreaker members teamed up with allies and fought hard against a proposal that would’ve significantly cut our bus service and raised fares. We gathered over 2,000 petition signatures and 700 written testimonials from bus riders. After months of organizing, we stopped the service cuts and fare hikes dead in their tracks.
Later that year, Chainbreaker members organized a proactive campaign to include money for transit in a Capital Improvements Project (CIP) Bond. A bond is like a loan that the city takes out and pays back with tax money. That campaign was also a huge success and $2 million was set aside to replace aging buses. Unfortunately, after the bond was approved, city officials turned around and decided to use the money promised to buses for other projects.
That decision put the future of our bus system in danger. Buses that are past their prime are unreliable and dangerous. Over 1/3 of the buses currently operating in Santa Fe will cross that mark in the next 2 years. If funding isn’t secured to replace them, we’ll face certain cuts by 2015. But we don’t have a year to wait. It can take over a year to build a bus once it is ordered. That means that funding must be increased in 2014 in order to avoid cuts.
Car-dependency keeps people poor. Lack of public transportation perpetuates car-dependency. As more Santa Feans rely on buses, the city should be focused on expanding our system, not allowing it to slowly die. We need our buses to get to work, school, doctors appointments and grocery stores. But without our elected officials stepping up to the plate, our buses will grind to a halt. But all isn’t lost! The passionate work of Chainbreaker members has shown that we can stop it from happening by holding those elected officials accountable. If you are already a member, now is the time to get more involved. If you are not yet a member, now is the time to sign up.