Human Transit has a great post today about large transit agencies and the conflict between core cities, where transit needs are great, and suburbs, where local politicians demand "equity" in public transit spending. RTA is a fantastic example of this conflict-- it serves the second-largest transit service area in the country, geographically speaking, but has only one city in it that could reasonably be called "urban"-- Riverside. This results in a lot of fairly unproductive service in the outlying areas of Riverside County, while Riverside itself has overcrowding on several key trunk routes (eg. 1, 16), and a general lack of frequency that makes the rest of the network less useful than it could be.
Tacoma, WA is experiencing a different, although related, problem with their transit authority, Pierce Transit. It seems that voters in the Pierce Transit service area were offered the chance to vote on a tax increase that would have staved off draconian service cuts, and while Tacoma itself voted overwhelmingly in favor of the tax increases, outlying areas voted against in enough numbers that this mid-sized city will soon see no mid-day service and no service after 7pm. The city has proposed forming an "enhanced transit zone," wherein a small sales tax will be levied to subsidize service above and beyond that which would ordinarily be offered by the transit agency. Perhaps Riverside should consider something similar?