Cutbacks to Calaveras Transit service approved Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors are designed to improve the system’s fare recovery ratio necessary to keep receiving state funding.
The transit system is mandated to collect 10 percent of its revenues through the fares it charges and has fallen short for years.
Changes include adding a route between San Andreas, Mokelumne Hill and Jackson and eliminating a little-used service on Highway 26 between Mokelumne Hill and West Point; scaling the route between Angels Camp and Copperopolis back to commuter hours; reviving the Bear Valley ski bus in winter; modest increases in the cost of multi-use passes and adding 25 cents to the cost of transfers.
The elimination of the Mokelumne Hill-West Point route was the final straw for Supervisor Steve Wilensky, who said significant cuts have now been made three times to services in the district he represents, and cast the lone dissenting vote against the plan.
Wilensky suggested the transit system as constituted is not working and perhaps should shift its focus to “on-demand” service for students and shoppers rather than fixed routes.
Supervisor Darren Spellman said his district remains without any service whatsoever even though it contains one-fifth of the county’s residents.
“If we’re in the same spot next year … I think I’m going to be casting a no vote for the same reason philosophically as Steve,”Spellman said.
Supervisor Tom Tryon looked at the loss of the Mokelumne Hill-West Point route differently.
“I don’t think it’s a reduction in service to eliminate a route with no riders,” Tryon said.
“You can’t keep funding something that doesn’t work,” added Supervisor Gary Tofanelli.
Tofanelli also took issue with the Bear Valley route which historically has far outpaced other routes in terms of farebox recovery but still requires a subsidy to cover its costs.
“I just have some reservations about people going on a ski journey and taxpayers subsidizing that,” he said.