🌹Demand Berkeley Fund Fare Free Transit!
October 26, 2021
This Tuesday night (10/26), the Berkeley City Council will take an initial vote on funding a fare-free transit pilot. If passed, the city would pay AC Transit to make all Berkeley rides on Sunday free for at least one whole year!
In order to pass this first stage, we need East Bay DSA members like you to BOTH send letters before the meeting (a sample email/talking points and instructions are below) AND give public comment during the meeting. The Zoom URL for the meeting is zoom.us/j/87152148000. To join by phone, dial 1-669-900-9128 and enter Meeting ID 871 5214 8000. To give public comment, "raise your hand" (*9 on a phone) and wait to be recognized by the Chair.
The council meeting is scheduled to start at 6:00 PM, but we don’t expect them to take up the item (#38) until 9:00 PM (and possibly as late as 11 PM), so you should show up by 9 PM and stay on the call for the rest of the meeting so you don’t miss a public comment.
Thank you for your commitment to making fare-free transit a reality in Berkeley!
To: firstname.lastname@example.org AND email@example.com
Subject: Support Fare-Free Transit! Yes on 38!
Dear Council members,
I am writing to demand that you fully support Item 38, a budget referral to fully subsidize Berkeley AC Transit fares on Sundays for at least one calendar year.
Fares only pay for a small share of AC Transit’s operating costs - less than 4.7% in FY2021 and less than 13% in a non-pandemic year. But they impose significant costs on low-income (and middle class) riders. For example, a worker who uses AC Transit to commute to and from their job every day must spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on bus fare, making it even more difficult to pay their astronomical rents and the soaring costs of household expenses. Eliminating fares would make it significantly easier for workers to stay afloat in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the world.
Suspending fares would also mean eliminating the need to enforce fare evasion policies. This would both protect both drivers by removing them from an enforcement role (and allow COVID-safe rear boarding) and protect riders by reducing their interactions with law enforcement.
Eliminating fares would increase ridership and lower the number of people in cars. This effect could be particularly pronounced on Sundays, as it falls on the very same day that Berkeley subsidizes car use by not charging for parking.
Many transit agencies in the United States and abroad have eliminated transit fares, allowing more people to ride without being policed for doing so. Berkeley should join them by making and keeping our buses permanently free. Passing Item 38 and then funding it in November is a small but crucial first step towards doing so. Vote yes on item 38!
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