The Antioch Senior Bus Program – What’s Fare?

A significant amount of funding to provide Bus services in any community is contributed by multiple layers of government. With bleak budget pictures being projected from these government entities Tri Delta Transit is anticipating that the level of funding necessary to provide the current level of services may not be forth coming. Recent revelations from the Governor’s office that revenue projections were severely underestimated, may lead to future funding cuts, has sent Tri Delta staff on the unpleasant task of finding ways to reduce their budget load. So, based on what we know will happen (and what we think will happen), Tri Delta needs to cut an addition $1.2 million from their current $19,283,000 budget. That amount is based on:

  • Funding projections (TDA cuts, feeder bus fund cuts, and STA cuts ($400,000 has been cut so far from Tri Delta’s allocation in FY11-12)
  • Capitol needs (Tri Delta’s 2012 bus buy has been funded with federal funds. However, Tri Delta is still required to provide 20% of the purchase price with local funds.)

(The Transportation Development Act (TDA) provides two major sources of funding for public transportation: the Local Transportation Fund (LTF) and the State Transit Assistance fund (STA). These funds are for the development and support of public transportation needs that exist in California and are allocated to areas of each county based on population, taxable sales and transit performance.)

Tri Delta staff and the Board have made all of the “easy” cuts, these include: eliminating 3 ½ administrative staff positions (which is a 17% reduction in staff) savings $300,000/year; cut benefits saving $232,000/year; cut maintenance costs by $180,000/year; cut overtime saving $43,000/year; cut/re-aligned routes and increased fares saving $1,800,000/year; switched phone services to save $8200/year; switched computer services to save $15,000/year; applied for and received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds (and are looking for other grant opportunities); started a MediCal service to help fund paratransit service; and initiated cost saving measures such as energy and water conservation, capital purchase delay, administrative expense cuts, etc.

Tri Delta staff is now looking not renewing the contract for the senior bus program with the City of Antioch for a number of reasons:

First – Antioch is one member of a five-member Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) yet they are the only member that has a subsidized service through Tri Delta Transit, at least $96,000 a year.

Second – Every five years, Tri Delta Transit buys two paratransit vehicles for the City of Antioch using Tri Delta Transit’s operating funds ($74,000 for each bus). No other member of the JPA receives direct capital investments from Tri Delta Transit.

Third – Tri Delta’s cost to operate one paratransit bus per hour, including parts, tires, fuel and a driver is $50.00 per hour. The City of Antioch’s cost per hour, based on their reporting, is $71.05 per hour.

Fourth – The disparity in fares paid by Antioch seniors as opposed to those of the rest of the seniors in East County for the same service. City of Antioch: prior to May 4, 1991, the fare was 25 cents. On 5/4/1991, it was increased to 50cents and has stayed at that level since. Tri Delta Transit Dial-a-Ride: In 1991, the fare was 60 cents (for one zone). Over the years, it has been periodically increased to the current $2.25 (to be $2.50 in February 2012 and $2.75 in February 2013) (NOTE: In the SF Bay Area, every transit operator charges the legally-allowable twice-the-fixed-route fare for their paratransit service meaning Tri Delta Transit’s fare should be going to $4.00 in February if they were in step with the other Bay Area agencies which MTC is trying to force them to do.) The FTA has made reference to services similar to that operated by the City of Antioch as a possible violation of Title VI regulations. (Basically, they don’t like the idea that Tri Delta Transit is passing through funds to an entity (City of Antioch) that treats their class of customers differently than Tri Delta Transit’s class of customers.)

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. Specifically, Title VI provides that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Apparently Antioch City leaders are upset. If the contract is not renewed at the end of the present fiscal year they have a number of options that include:

  1. The City of Antioch would continue to operate the service on their own. This would mean they would be responsible for the capital expenses associated with replacing the buses as well as the ongoing operational costs. They would be eligible to apply for approximately $179,000/year from Measure J funds. City staff could apply for various grants with local foundations to subsidize their fares. 
  2. Tri Delta Transit would take possession of the three senior buses that Tri Delta Transit purchased for the City, and increase Dial-a-Ride service in Antioch to compensate for the service currently being operated by the City of Antioch.
  3. The City of Antioch could take the $179,000 in Measure J funds and contract with a local taxi operator. Tri Delta Transit can’t do this because of charter regulations.

A quick note here: All seniors that go to the nutrition portion at the senior center program get free (paid for by the Senior Nutrition Program) transportation. This is true for all senior nutrition programs in east county –Tri Delta currently provide 1000 trips/month (500 people or 24 people/day) under this program to various east county sites.

This is an issue that is beyond the budget numbers. It’s a matter of fairness. Seniors in Pittsburg, Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Bryon, Knightsen and the far corners of Tri Delta’s service area are paying $2.25 for the same service that Antioch seniors are getting for free.


About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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