News of potential Metro transit cuts is cause for great concern

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Sarah Latham, Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

As many of you are aware, the Santa Cruz Metro Transit District is facing an operating deficit and must reduce annual expenses by $6.5 million. As a result, the district is looking at cuts across its service area of Santa Cruz County.

Metro officials have stated that several factors have lead to the current financial challenges, including increased personnel costs, decreased tax revenues, and flat ridership.

Public transportation is a critical service that supports access for our campus community, with thousands of faculty, staff and students taking Metro daily. No doubt, news of service cuts is cause for great concern.

During 2014-2015, weekday school-term student ridership averaged 11,080 rides per day. Faculty and staff ridership during the same timeframe averaged 557 rides per day. UCSC affiliates account for 50 percent of all Metro ridership in Santa Cruz County and approaches 60 percent during school-term months. Approximately 50 percent of all Metro ridership occurs on the seven routes directly serving the UCSC main campus.

Metro’s initial proposal of service cuts can be found at:

http://scmetroforward.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Santa-Cruz-Metro-Service-Concept-2016_0318_board.pdf

The Metro Board is gathering public feedback and will present an updated proposal at its April 22, 2016 meeting.

UCSC leadership has been actively engaged in providing feedback to Metro about the proposed cuts and their impact on our campus. Our Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) team has provided the board with numerous analyses outlining the impact and suggesting alternatives. UC Santa Cruz holds an ex-officio seat on the board. Public hearings on the revised proposal will take place throughout May. A final service reduction plan will be adopted at the end of June and will be implemented in September.