Officials Discuss Restoring Bus Service

Hopes are high that sometime next week, public transportation service will be restored in Meridian.

Meridian Transit System halted service at 5 p.m. Wednesday, because of a lack of money. Over the last three years, city funding for the system has been cut by 60 percent.

The city council met with members of the Meridian Transit System board in a work session to discuss what needs to be done to get the buses back on the road.

Council members asked transit officials what was done leading up to the closure to try to prevent it from happening.

"Cutting routes would save us about $1,000 per route. We've cut routes," said Patricia Flowers, MTS executive director. "We've gone to demand response. Demand response is more costly than fixed routes."

At the council's request, Flowers said every year MTS undergoes an audit. According to her, no problems have been found during the audits.

She and the president of the MTS board say the major problem is continued cuts in funding.

"Until transit in Meridian is properly funded, we'll be back here in two months with the problem," said Bo Hawkins, MTS board president.

"The cost of running this program is $35 (per rider). The cost in other communities our same size is anywhere form $5 to $15 (per rider). So, somewhere we've got a problem and we've got to fix it," said Barry.

Flowers says $80,000 is needed to sustain Meridian Transit through the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends in late September.

Flowers says $60,000 of that would be used just to pay off outstanding debts, such as taxes and rent, which is three months behind. At its meeting Tuesday, the Meridian City Council is expected to vote on how much money it will provide Meridian Transit.

Council members say they are committed to doing what needs to be done to get the buses back up and running.

"I have appointed Dr. (George) Thomas and Councilman Bobby Smith to get together and decide what they will recommend for the council at the next meeting, which is Tuesday morning," said council president, Barbara Henson. "We can work with $60,000, because part of that will be what we already owe them. We can work with that. That will get them on their feet if that's what's recommended for the council to do."

Here are some facts about the Meridian Transit System: It takes about $25,000 a month to operate it; with about 35 to forty riders each day. The amount collected in riders' fees is about $3,000 a month. The bulk of the funding comes from local money and state matching grants. Over the last three years, ridership for MTS increased by 11 percent.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by parking on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:08 PM
    Can anyone tell me how.much the services of our parking garage bring in yearly
  • by Anonymous on Mar 5, 2012 at 12:41 PM
    It costs 25,000.00/mon. to operate and it only brings in 3,000.00/mon. I agree with Ray. Totally bad investment. Cut it.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 5, 2012 at 12:33 PM
    Transit is the lifeline that helps many people be productive in our society.Are you folks who say cut it out willing to give a ride daily to a person who wants to work but can't get there without transit? I have a person in mind that I might be able to help with a ride to work in the morning.Hey guys,how about finding a way to help? Could someone set up a "clearing house" king of set up where folks who needs rides from transit can call and get connected with folks who are willing to give a ride? Be creative.
  • by cw on Mar 3, 2012 at 08:33 AM
    why not ask the churches for some help? they all have vans, most have handicap accesible abilities and it would be great p.r. and every curch that wants to participate can rotate the routes, everyone that pays taxes will be grateful and the word of the lord can be spread.
  • by Just sayin..... Location: Meridian on Mar 3, 2012 at 08:28 AM
    Meridian should look into bidding for a transportation company to do their hauling for them. The railroads here in Meridian have been doing it for years. They would then know how much money it was going to cost every year. No more buying gas, paying drivers, buying the buses, no insurance on the vehicles, etc. No doubt some form of transportation is needed for some people to get to work or the hospital, or other places they need to get but paying these exhorbent gas and insurance premiums for just the handfuls that uses the system is more than wasteful, it is throwing good money for the bad.
  • by Custodian Location: Mdn on Mar 3, 2012 at 05:09 AM
    Having been a rider of the MTS Para-Transit (Handicapped) bus system since 1998, I can attest to the benefits of the system. Many people cannot imagine the value of having something like this in place until a situation comes along that hits them smack in the face and then they are glad that there is a lifeline for them out there. I make no apologies for being handicapped but I do the best I can with what I have and I am exceedingly grateful for things like the MTS to be there when I need to see a doctor, which here lately has been fairly often. If the MTS can be re-vitalized it will lift a burden off many a (tired) shoulder. Patricia Flowers & James Harvey have gone more than the 2nd mile in keeping the MTS going these past few years and I congratulate them for this. The negative comments I have seen pertaining them are seriously uncalled for. Be happy for what you have for tomorrow might be another day!
  • by Anonymous on Mar 2, 2012 at 11:36 PM
    city councils, what a bunch of SCUM ____!....How can you ADMIT owing money. Operations shouldve never ceased then-you bunch of -_________!
  • by Columbo on Mar 2, 2012 at 09:44 PM
    She didn't go 10 million over on city hall, Willie. And I bet you know that. Both bonds and the plans for City Hall were John Robert Smith's. Either you are completely oblivious to major Meridian events, which makes your posts ignorant. Or you know who handled City Hall, which makes your post dishonest. Which is it?
  • by Really!¡ Location: Meridian on Mar 2, 2012 at 08:57 PM
    If they stop building all of these unnecessary buildings. Then raising the price of our bill so we can pay for the crap. put the money in the right places like the bus which helps get people to/from wk w/o it then there is no one to pay YOUR bills. SO SELFISH
  • by Anonymous on Mar 2, 2012 at 07:15 PM
    It is not an investment. It is a public service. It exists to help those that cannot afford private transportation. Contrary to popular belief, people who depend on public transportation are citizens, and deserve more than to be led to the furnaces. Some people can't fathom what it is like to depend on such transportation. Like someone said, go $10million over budget on city hall, and no one cares. Let public transportation go over by a fraction of that and everyone is ready to just cut these people off.
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