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Working on the railroad could slow with budget woes

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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In addition to a fare increase, light-rail aficionados in Folsom could see budget-caused delays in some improvements to local service. The Gold Line railroad to Folsom operated by Sacramento Area Rapid Transit posts a $2.25 basic fare effective Jan. 1, 2009. That’s up from $2. Current RT fare hikes are in response to the agency’s losing a total of $18.3 million in state funding for fiscal 2009-10, officials announced. In addition, a beefing-up of services to Folsom that was expected to come within six weeks could be delayed if budget-minded legislators eliminate the only state program that provides day-to-day operations funding for public transit. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed slashing the State Transit Assistance fund, a move that would cost RT an additional $5.6 million. Connie Garcia, an RT spokeswoman, said agency officials probably would not consider service cuts to match Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts. However, agency general manager Michael Wiley said a delay could come in expanding Folsom services. “We have a project that affects the Gold Line – the Folsom Limited Stop and Hazel Enhancement Services,” Wiley said. “The county is scheduled to complete a bridge at Watt Avenue and Folsom Boulevard in late January (2009). The bridge will allow trains to cross over Watt. Once that’s done, the next improvement is upgrading operations with a limited-stop express from Folsom to Sacramento.” Running more frequent trains that reach Folsom is another planned expansion. “Right now, trains from Sacramento to Folsom are 30 minutes apart,” Wiley said. “We have come up with an inexpensive way to extend 15-minute service to Folsom instead of Sunrise Boulevard.” That depends on the state budget situation, officials said. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com.