Transit service could fall under city’s budget ax
After raising the possibility last month of having Grand Valley Transit provide service past 7 p.m., the Grand Valley’s public transportation provider is now looking at the possibility of curtailing services.
City of Grand Junction budget concerns are threatening to hamstring its ability to fully fund its share of bus service, which could translate to reduced levels of service just as public transportation has become more popular than ever in the Grand Valley.
“In the last year we have seen, on average, about a 20 percent increase (in passengers),” said Todd Hollenbeck, manager of the Regional Transportation Planning Office.
“Part of it is due to the economic climate. People are looking for a cheaper mode of transportation.”
In August, Grand Valley Transit served 10,500 more customers than in August 2008.
But Grand Junction’s monetary concerns may put Grand Valley Transit in a position of having to serve a growing population of customers, with fewer resources.
“We are not able to balance our budget right now,” said Laurie Kadrich, Grand Junction’s city manager.
If Grand Junction follows through and cuts funding to Grand Valley Transit, it would mean:
Fewer grants for the bus service because it would have less funding to match the grants.
Plans to extend service into the evening hours would be nixed.
Future purchases of buses and construction of bus stop facilities would be stopped.
Existing service could be trimmed.
“We are looking at maintaining services or modifying them in some way to deal with the current economic downturn,” Kadrich said.
“It is not done yet, but we wanted to make sure our partners saw where we are at with our budget, and I suspect they are in a very similar situation.”
Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said the County Commission has not discussed funding of Grand Valley Transit, but that no one should expect the county to make up any funding gap created by Grand Junction.
Fruita Mayor Ken Henry said the Fruita City Council has agreed to fund GVT next year in line with agreed upon yearly increases, to the tune of $43,668, because it wants to maintain current levels of service.
Public transportation is designed to assist those who have a difficult time getting around, and, given the economy, now is not the time to cut services, Henry said.
At the east end of the valley, Tim Sarmo, Palisade’s town manager, said the community will continue to fund Grand Valley Transit and will increase its support by 4 percent this year.
“We are faced with the same budget constraints as Grand Junction,” Sarmo said.
“A continuation, at least of the status quo with the proposed (4 percent) increases, is the direction I think our board would take at this point in time.”