Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bus Riders Face More Fare (Less Fair) Adjustments

Dear Mr. Jacob Snow and RTC Board Members,

I have six major points to make about the proposed plan to double the 24-hour pass and comments on related RTC policies. Please ensure that this is entered as a public statement.

First, I would propose that the RTC post, on-line, future and previous comments on the fare increases and on the poor service of the RTC bus system. In 2008, between 200 and 300 people bothered to express their issues and concerns about these bus fare increases and those comments have ostensibly been ignored.

Second, the RTC already has planned future bus fares increases. With the hikes in 2010, there will have been a 117% increase in 30-day bus fares from 2005 to 2010 and a 225% increase from 1999 to 2010.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the RTC changed its transportation philosophy in 1999 asserting that the captive bus ridership shoulder a greater burden for bus transportation. The is a case of transportation inequity, and I would argue, transportation racism (see point 5). For background information, I encourage you to read books edited by Robert D. Bullard, including "Just Transportation" and "Highway Robbery".

Third, the RTC's periodic threats to increase bus fares or face route reductions explains no other options. Working-class people who take the bus will be required to pay even more--for service that is not significantly better. It appears you have not even considered programs that I have mentioned, such as The Rider Relief Program that has been used in Los Angeles.

Fourth, I attempted to obtain information on the demographics of RTC bus riders. Unfortunately, the Regional Transportation Commission refused to provide the data on at least two occasions. However, the City of Las Vegas City Planning and the US Census quickly provided me with current data from 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Fifth, The 2007-2008 Census data confirms my hypothesis that the RTC bus is predominantly used by working-class people who have few options. These people are disproportionately people of color: Latino, African-American, and Asian. It seems unjust that these people have seen increased fares with no significant improvement in service.

I cannot expect people of your social location or most members of the current RTC board to have empathy for these working-class people, particularly people of color, but I can let you know that I try to raise consciousness on issues such as transportation dependency transportation equity and environmental justice.

Sixth, the reality is that many people who live in Clark County perceive the bus as a worst option or last option; it seems unlikely to me that cool buses that look like trains will make a significant difference if Journey to Work time is not improved. I know that your hands are tied, in a way, because you didn't design the unsustainable sprawl or the White and middle-class flight from Las Vegas, but I hope you have some power and goodwill to question attempts at more unsustainable sprawl.

Dahn Shaulis

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