Watch out – transit cuts ahead

Drastic. Radical. Deep. These are some of the adjectives being
used to describe cuts the Valley Transportation Authority is likely
to make due to the economic tailspin in which Silicon Valley finds
itself.
Drastic. Radical. Deep. These are some of the adjectives being used to describe cuts the Valley Transportation Authority is likely to make due to the economic tailspin in which Silicon Valley finds itself.

Fair to South County. These are the words we hope Gilroy Mayor Tom Springer, Supervisor Don Gage and all the other VTA board members will keep in mind when they’re voting on the inevitable service slashes.

Whenever this topic comes up, we hear that South County has a much smaller population than other parts of Santa Clara County, so cutting service here impacts fewer people.

We’d argue, however, that cuts here hurt a larger percentage of people who can least afford them.

According to the 2000 census, the median household income in the three South County communities is $62,135 for Gilroy, $70,064 for San Martin and $81,958 for Morgan Hill. Compare those median incomes to three North County communities: $100,411 for Cupertino, $126,740 for Los Altos, and $139,895 for Saratoga.

Not convinced? Then take a gander at the percentage of population living in poverty, as reported by the 2000 Census. In Gilroy, 10.4 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The figure is 5.2 percent in San Martin and 4.7 percent in Morgan Hill. In Cupertino, 4.8 percent of residents live in poverty, while in Los Altos and Saratoga, the figures are 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.

Still unsure? Let’s take a look at commute times. Gilroy residents drive an average of 30.6 minutes to get to work; San Martin residents take 31.9 minutes, and Morgan Hill residents commute for 33.9 minutes, according to 2000 census data. Meanwhile, in North County, Cupertino residents drive 25.8 minutes, Saratogans drive 26.6 minutes and Los Altos citizens commute for 22.1 minutes.

Besides workers, many of whom work multiple jobs just to make ends meet and cannot afford an automobile, numerous students – both at Gilroy and Live Oak high schools and Gavilan Community College – rely on VTA service to get the educations they’re relying on to lift them out of poverty.

We urge the VTA board, and especially its representatives from South County, to be sure that South County’s population doesn’t bear an unfair burden as the agency slashes services to balance its budget.

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