Saratoga County

CDTA asks for support in face of funding cut

The Capital District Transportation Authority is seeking public support to prevent the loss of $4 mi

The Capital District Transportation Authority is seeking public support to prevent the loss of $4 million in federal funding in the next fiscal year.

The authority is asking bus riders to wear red Friday in support of “Don’t X Out Public Transit,” a national advocacy campaign opposing proposed transit cuts.

CDTA representatives will be at major BusPlus stops during peak travel times to award gifts at random to riders wearing red.

The campaign seeks to alert people to what advocates call potentially devastating cuts in federal aid proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House is calling for across-the-board cuts of 30 percent to public transit and surface transportation programs.

“The proposed 30 percent cut would jeopardize the level and quality of service transit agencies will be able to provide to their communities and force them to consider drastic measures to balance their budgets, including service cuts and raising fares,” said Margo Janack, CDTA’s spokeswoman. “Reduced funding can also jeopardize service safety. Agencies will no longer be able to purchase buses to replace the ones that are ready for retirement.”

Janack said the CDTA receives $12 million in federal funds annually. A 30 percent cut would mean $4 million less, which could translate into a 10 percent reduction in service. “This would be on top of the existing budget deficit,” she said.

The CDTA closed a $6 million deficit in its $75.2 million budget for 2011-12 by taking $3.1 million from its reserves, postponing plans to purchase new buses and trimming $1.1 million in maintenance costs. The budget was up 2.3 percent from the prior year.

CDTA will receive $29.1 million in state aid, the same as last year. The remainder of its funding comes from fares. It raised its basic fare in April 2009 from $1 to $1.50 per trip, despite a public outcry. Ridership immediately dropped about 10 percent and hasn’t rebounded — a bigger impact than CDTA leaders expected.

Two weeks ago, Congress passed a six-month extension of the surface transportation authorization bill, which will fund public transportation at current levels until March 2012.

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