monopoly_money.jpgProposed cuts to federal transportation funding could severely impact Caltrain, BART and other Bay Area transit agencies, officials said today.

The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a six-month extension of the Surface Transportation Authorization bill, which helps support the operations of major public transportation agencies around the Bay Area and across the country.

A faction in Congress is pressing for a permanent version of the bill that would cut transportation funds by one-third, BART Board President Bob Franklin said.

“We have a choice,” Franklin said in a statement. “A House version of the Surface Transportation Authorization that would cut our funding by 30 percent, or a Senate version – led by California Sen. Barbara Boxer – that would maintain current funding.”

“We urge our riders to support Sen. Boxer’s efforts,” Franklin said.

BART today joined other Bay Area transit agencies in a national day of action to preserve funding, called “Don’t X Out Public Transportation Day.”

BART staff was out in force at stations throughout its service area to hand out postcards expressing support for public transit to be mailed to Sen. Boxer’s office.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission chairwoman Adrienne Tissier, San Mateo County Transit District board of directors member Zoe Kersteen-Tucker and San Mateo County Transportation Authority chairwoman Rosanne Foust were at Caltrain’s San Francisco Station this morning for a news conference to outline what the funding cuts would mean to local agencies.

A 30 percent reduction in funding would force Caltrain to defer replacement of an estimated 30 vehicles over the next three to five years and eventually reduce its number of hourly trains, spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.

SamTrans bus service would also be impacted, Dunn said. SamTrans would have to defer replacement of about 60 buses, increasing wait times and adding an estimated $2 million in maintenance costs for the older vehicles.

Supporters can also send messages of support to Congress through the website

Chris Cooney, Bay City News

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