The first person I spoke with at the University/65th Street bus and light rail stop was Michael Winston. He stopped his music and took out his earplugs to talk.
Ben: “What routes do you normally take?”
Winston: “The 8, and they stopped my bus! (laughs) They stopped the bus, they literally stopped the bus, like it don’t run no more. So now I gotta go all the way to this bus stop to go all the way home. I used to go to Power Inn and go home from there, but now I can’t go to Power Inn, cause the bus stopped.”
RT says the cuts are necessary to balance the budget. And Winston’s bus is one of 26 weekday routes eliminated, along with more than a dozen others on weekends.
Nearby, Fred Lucina watched his bus lower its wheelchair ramp so he could board. He says he doesn’t like to rely on others to get around, but he’ll have to do that far more because of the cuts.
Lucina: “I’m basically gonna have to arrange rides, probably make a lot of sacrifices as far as – I’m pretty much gonna be limited to what I decide to do, where I decide to go. And I’ll have to wheel myself further. Basically, that’s what it boils down to.”
And over at the light rail tracks, American River College student Samantha Samuels and her mom were waiting for a train. Light rail will stop after nine o’clock each night – and trains will only come by every half-hour on the weekends. Samuels isn’t a fan.
Samuels: “Them cutting? That’s – ooh, you know how much drama that’s going to be? For cutting that after nine o’clock? That’s bad. Cause a lot of people are gonna be stranded. A lot of people have to get to where they’re going. And nine o’clock, that’s not late enough for people to get home.”
Not everyone was upset. A few riders’ routes aren’t affected. And Sacramento State student Ronnie Nurss says he’d rather cut public transit than education.
Nurss: “It kinda sucks, but with the whole California budget crisis, I think it’s kind of necessary, at least for now. So I think it’s actually a smart move. Cause you’re gonna have to cut somewhere.”
Some people didn’t know about the changes at all. That could be because there weren’t any signs – at least that I saw – at any of the University/65th bus booths or light rail platforms. The schedules were out of date too. An RT spokeswoman says officials have gotten the word out. But she acknowledges the signs aren’t all in yet – even though RT’s board approved the service cuts two-and-a-half months ago. She blames budget cuts for that, too.