Grays Harbor Transit public meeting saw standing room only crowd
Over 100 people filled the Aberdeen City Council chambers on Wednesday for the first of 2 public meetings regarding Grays Harbor Transit budget cuts.
Transit Authority General Manager Mark Carlin spoke to the crowd to start the meeting and explained the reasoning behind the needed reductions. According to Carlin, because of declining state funding for transit, at the current rate of growth the Authority would need to reduce costs by over $800,000 to stay within their budget.
The authority has looked at various options to reduce the budget. These include eliminating weekend routes, reducing route schedules, increasing fares, or putting a tax increase into the hands of the voters.
Transit supporters spoke to the Grays Harbor Transit Board and most urged that the amount of service not be cut as to not hurt those who rely on the buses for work or other daily needs.
In all the options, the majority of savings come from a reduction in wages and benefits, and not from route changes.
If weekend routes were eliminated, the revenue savings are forecasted at over $895,000, while thinning out the daily runs could save $800,000 a year. A 3rd option would eliminate Sunday service and reduce daily trips. That option would also save $800,000 a year. All 3 options include a loss of jobs for drivers or staff.
According to Carlin, if a tax increase were included onto the November ballot, those funds would not be available until June 2014, and reductions would still be needed prior to that date.
Another option would be for a rate increase per fare. According to Carlin, this increase would be drastic.
According to figures taken from Carlin’s estimates, increasing per trip fees from $1 to $3, increasing monthly rider cards from $20 to $50, and eliminating transfers, the total raised would be in excess of $822,000 a year. Those numbers anticipate a drop in those using the service.
The authority are still looking for additional options to reduce costs, and asking for public input. A 2nd meeting to discuss options has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 25th, at 6 pm at Aberdeen City Hall.