County Council hears transit’s goals

-A A +A
By Jennifer Garcia

County councilors handled a full agenda during last week’s council meeting.

This week will be no different.

With four items of business that center on major county issues, the meeting has been moved from the White Rock Town Hall to the Community Building, to allow more room for the public who wish to attend.

The Trinity Drive Street Standards, selection process for siting and construction of a municipal building, work associated with the Judicial/Police/Jail Complex and property taxes will all be topics of discussion at tonight’s meeting at 7 p.m.

During last Tuesday’s meeting, Rep. Jeannette Wallace and Lobbyist Scott Scanland presented council with an update of the legislative session. Scanland went over the list of bills that passed and failed, as well as a list of bills that was waiting to be signed by Gov. Bill Richardson.

In addition, Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman and Public Works Division Manager Nancy Talley were in council chambers, presenting councilors with the transit service plan FY10 through FY18.

The executive summary presented to council states that additional services are proposed throughout the service plan in order to accommodate the high ridership on the Atomic City Transit System, as well a the areas of town that are not yet served.

The major services proposed in the plan include a new route serving the eastern area (Airport) and Entrada development, an additional all-day downtown trolley service, new Dial-a-Ride service on Saturdays and Friday evenings, new after school and youth summer service routes and twice-an-hour, all-day neighborhood service to White Rock, Monday through Friday.

According to the summary, “these services will help meet some of the fundamental needs that exist and have been requested from the citizens of Los Alamos County through the transit feedback forms.”

During the presentation, Zimmerman said that a second ACT operator is needed to help cover employees’ shifts. “We operate from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., 15 hours through the day,” he said. “We need a second operator so we can split shifts.” When outlining the plans for ACT, he said that plans included the purchase of two new buses in FY11.

“We’re looking at adding a Saturday Dial-a-Ride service. We’ve had demand for Saturday service,” he said.

Talley concurred with Zimmerman and told councilors, “We don’t have enough Dial-a-Ride (services) for seniors and those with documented disabilities.”

After hearing the presentation given by Zimmerman, Councilor Robert Gibson made a comment regarding the funding that would be used to implement the extra services. “Your plan is contingent on North Central Regional Funds,” he said.

Zimmerman responded to Gibson’s comment by saying, “If we don’t receive them, we don’t do the service. We should start receiving the funding in July and the checks in October,” he continued.

Assistant County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro confirmed Zimmerman’s statement regarding the funds and said that the county was promised $1.2 million in funding.

According to the proposed service summary chart presented to council, FY10 will bring a $695,873 operations increase, raising the operating costs for transit service to $2,951,873

In addition, capital is projected to increase from $659,000 for FY09 to $1,023,000 for FY10. The budget is expected to increase by $1,059,873, meaning it will go from $2,915,000 in FY09 to $3,974,873 in FY10.

Revenues from the LAC Fund will go from $1,555,000 in FY09 to $1,492,873 in FY10. Federal funding will increase from $1,360,000 in FY09 to $1,459,500 in FY10. The biggest increase will be from the North Central Regional Transit Division. While FY09 had $0, FY10 will see $1,022,500 from NCRTD. All of these factors added together will take the total revenues from $2,915,000 in FY09 to $3,974,873 in FY10.

In addition, staff will increase from 24 for FY09 to 31.5 for FY10, while the total number of vehicles in the transit system will increase from 21 to 25. In addition, a ridership increase of 51,000 is expected for FY10, brining the annual ridership up to 379,000 from 328,000.