When he talks about the area, he talks about the congestion and the demand for parking. “I just think that it’s one of those things where I think people are going to be forced in the city to use transit. We haven’t seen it yet but we know it’s coming, so it’s just trying to be prepared for that.”
This leads him to a discussion about being prepared for increased ridership with limited and even decreasing resources. With the state taking away more transportation funding and costs rising, trying to keep service going is a challenge.
“The funny thing is, the stimulus money is great, no doubt, but the first thing I get asked by my policy board is, ‘OK, great, we have all this money, let’s put all this service out,’” Ida says. “Sorry, I can’t do that. I’ll put out great, new pretty buses.
“It’s hard for them to understand.” He explains, “We get the capital money and that’s fine, that’s plentiful, but we could really use operating and that gets taken away.” As he says now, “The state has devastated transit.
“If there are further, any other cuts anywhere, what’s going to happen is, you’re going to see a lot of transit properties just basically cut service to where again, it goes back to that connection, and people are going to say, ‘Well, why am I taking transit as opposed to driving a car?’” He states, “Then it’s just going to be counterproductive in that manner.”
In the state of California, however, the people have spoken. Measure R is a half-cent sales tax for transportation that was passed by the voters and went into effect July 1 of this year. Even during a rough economy, the voters want better transportation options.
And now there’s an expectation with Measure R passing, that the agencies should be putting out more service with extra money coming their way. “But the state just cut even more than what we’re going to get in Measure R,” explains Ida. “That’s really too bad because that really would have been an opportunity for us to relook at our service and put more quality service out there and maybe attract more people.
“I mean I was so excited when that got passed,” says Ida. “And then I see that the state took all the FTA money, then I see the economy in terms of sales tax revenue that it just dropped higher than what we expected.” He adds, “It’s like trying to keep my chin up, trying to keep everybody’s optimism there that our service is important, that we’re going to get through this, just hang in there.
“The management team is all focused,” explains Ida. “We’re all on the same page in terms of what our goals are here and basically my job is to facilitate them. I think we do that and we do that really well.”