Will there be cuts to the METRO bus system this year?
The bus service provided by the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO) is a lifeline for many in our community. METRO buses take middle and highschoolers from the communities of Davenport and Bonny Doon to school in Santa Cruz. Many people rely on METRO buses to take them to work, to medical appointments and to the grocery store. Utilizing public transportation rather than traveling in a single-passenger vehicle is one of the keys to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We must support a robust system in our community.
Unfortunately, due to budgetary shortfalls related to the federal, state and local economic conditions, current levels of bus service are unsustainable. METRO staff recently presented a 30 percent bus service reduction option that would eliminate all bus service to the North Coast among other cuts. METRO staff has now provided a 12 percent bus service reduction option that would still include route cuts. The METRO Board of Directors has indicated that they will consider making route cuts, utilizing financial reserves, increasing fares and seeking labor concessions to close a $3.8 million budget shortfall.
Rural bus routes, such as those to the North Coast may not have the highest bus ridership, but they provide a critical lifeline of service for rural communities.
There will be community meetings throughout the county in the coming months for METRO to receive feedback on the proposed reductions. It will be important to attend those community meetings. METRO will publicize the meeting times and locations once they are set, so please stay tuned and get involved.
In light of recent events, what should
residents do to make sure they are
prepared for a disaster?
In Santa Cruz County we know all too well that we are subject to serious disasters. Earthquakes remain a threat and in recent years we’ve also had serious wildfires in our area. In the last month we faced a tsunami and experienced flooding due to severe winter storms. It is important that residents prepare for future emergencies.
The ready.gov website is a great resource for emergency preparedness, emphasizing these three steps: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed. Ready.gov provides a helpful list of what should be included in an emergency kit. The list includes everything from three days’ worth of food and water to a battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Don’t delay putting together your emergency kit, do it now. If you already have an emergency kit, check that all the items are still in working order.
Make a Plan: In addition to putting together your emergency supply kit, make a plan for what to do in an emergency situation. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.
Be Informed: There are many ways to stay informed, but I want to highlight two of them. First, make sure your cell phone number is registered with the Santa Cruz Regional 9-1-1 so that you will receive emergency notifications. When residents register their cell phone numbers and addresses, emergency dispatchers include those numbers in reverse emergency calls during disasters such as a tsunami. With more and more households deciding to disconnect their land lines and use cell phones as their primary numbers, cell phone registration has become an important part of emergency preparedness. It is easy to do: Go to scr911.org, and click on the provided link and complete the Community Notification Sign-up page.
Another great way to stay informed is to utilize our County’s 2-1-1 system. 211 is an easy-to-remember, toll-free phone number that connects callers with local community services, such as food, shelter, counseling, employment assistance, quality childcare and more. If there was an earthquake, a flood or another natural disaster on the Central Coast and you need non-emergency help or information, dial 2-1-1. People who dial 211 are sent to a call center that has a database and can connect residents to the assistance and resources they need. Assistance is available 24/7 in 150 languages. Of course, residents should still call 911 if there is an immediate emergency.