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NCRTD adopts new service plan

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Transportation > Changes include increased stops in the Los Alamos area

By Arin McKenna

The North Central Regional Transit District Board (NCRTD) adopted a new service plan by unanimous consent at its Feb. 7 meeting.
KFH Group Inc. was contracted to update the existing service plan. They evaluated how well current routes, bus stops and service times are meeting the needs of the public and developed a strategy for the next five to 10 years.
KFH held 15 public meetings throughout the district, incorporated public comment from board meetings and included input from route supervisors and employees who drive the routes.
The recommended changes to Rt. 400−Los Alamos/Española/Pojoaque−include more stops in Los Alamos and better “timed meets” in Española and Pojoaque for transfers to other routes.
“We modified the timing to provide better service into Los Alamos and also connect with Española,” said KFH Vice President Ken Hosen. “It’s going to hit quite a number of stops in Los Alamos so people can get the service directly without having to transfer.”
KFH also recommend revising the hours of service to better connect with the 12:20 p.m. bus to Santa Fe.
New stops proposed for Los Alamos include the airport, the hospital, Mari Mac Village Shopping Center, the Trinity Site, downtown and the Trinity/Diamond Drive intersection. The plan also calls for increasing the number of stops in Pojoaque and San Ildefonso.
KFH noted the need to bring all bus stops up to American with Disabilities Act standards and recommended that all routes have a “flex service” to accommodate persons with disabilities.
“I just want to commend staff on everybody working together,” said NCRTD Chair, Taos County Commissioner Daniel Barrone. “It’s important to move forward. More ridership is what we’re looking for, and more activity and regionalization.”
Details on other route changes can be found in the Feb. 7 board agenda packet at ncrtd.org.
An implementation and funding strategy must be developed before the new service plan can be executed.
Financial Analyst Pat Lopez presented the mid-term financial report, which projects that expected revenue and expenses are on target.
The District is anticipating a slight overall surplus in GRT revenue, despite the fact that revenue from Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties are running deficits due to decreased Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) revenues.
The Los Alamos County deficit is nearly $85,838 for the first five months of FY14. October reached an all-time low of $33,136, due partially to the federal shutdown. Revenue for the remainder of the fiscal year is projected to be 15 percent below budget, with a resulting deficit of $203,574 by year end.
“You can see how it’s dwindled from previous fiscal years,” Lopez said. “In fiscal year 2011, total revenues from Los Alamos County were $2.3 million dollars. In FY2012 we went down to $1.8 million dollars and in FY2013 we went to $1.5 million and we’re projecting to have 1,270,000 in FY2014. So we’ve lost almost a million dollars in the last three or four fiscal years.”
Rio Arriba County revenues averaged 93 percent of the total budget for the first five months and are projected to be at 94 percent for the remaining months, for a deficit of $39,718.
Those deficits were offset by surpluses in the remaining counties.
Santa Fe averaged 11 percent above budget and is expected to retain a 10 percent surplus for the rest of the year. Half of the $405,799 surplus will be transferred to the Rail Runner (Rio Metro Transit District).
Taos County was 6 percent above budget and is expected to remain at 2 percent, with an end-of-year surplus of $18,102.
The balance at the end of FY14 will leave NCRTD an overall increase of 3 percent, totaling $180,608.
NCRTD received $157,437 in grant money from the Transportation Alternatives Program to bring bus stops into ADA compliance and $31,494 from a 5311 federal grant carryover for construction of shelters. The NCRTD match for the TAP grant is $26,829.
Staff also anticipates $60,500 in miscellaneous revenues from sources such as auctioning vehicles, insurance proceeds and investments. Vacancy savings, lower than anticipated insurance premiums and operating reductions will also create a surplus in expenditures of $41,743, or .57 percent of the budget.
The NCRTD board also approved a sustainability plan by unanimous consent. The plan includes several elements, including a plan to introduce alternative fuels and recommendations for reducing the district’s carbon footprint at facilities and bus stops.
An Alternative Fuels Analysis approved by the board in 2013 is incorporated into the plan.
The AFA provides for the purchase of two identical vehicles, one powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and one by liquid propane gas (LPG), in FY2015.
Based on the performance and maintenance testing of the two vehicles, one alternative fuel will be recommended as the standard for future purchases on new vehicles. Once an alternative is chosen, funding to build fueling infrastructure will have to be obtained.
In order to operate existing vehicles more efficiently, district staff will develop an idling policy that balances passenger comfort with fuel consumption.
The plan recommends installing solar lighting for existing and new shelter installations and seeking multimodal locations for future bus stops that access hiking trails, bicycle paths and sport/entertainment centers.
The report noted current energy savings incorporated into the Jim West Regional Transit Center, the district’s 12,000 square foot administrative-operational facility. Recommendations for increasing sustainability, such as adding infrastructure for water harvesting in future construction projects, were also included. The board’s next meeting is at 9 a.m., March 7 at the Jim West Regional Transit Center, 1327 N. Riverside Dr. in Española.