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March 8, 2014

Transit service strapped by financial burdens

ODOT to investigate situation

(Continued)

CHICKASHA —

Money is the major obstacle preventing the expansions of the system, according to WVTS Executive Director Sharlotte Key. 

"We don't get a lot from ODOT and we'd have to come up with money to expand our hours or the system," she said. "$2 a ride just doesn't do it." 

Key said the system's annual budget is close to $450,000 a year. A FOI letter filed by The Express-Star found ODOT gave $140,921 to the WVTS in FY 2013. The majority of the budget is funded by advertisements, according to Key with fare sales bringing an average of $40,000 a year.

"It's really hard to come up with that money," Key said. "It would be nice if some local companies advertised." 

Hackett said more money could be available for the WVTS. 

"A provider could opt to start a new route in an area previously under-served or outside the community for which there is a demand," he said. They would receive money based on their estimated costs of service the first year, the second year they would receive a percentage of administrative and operational costs and the third year would be the average of the first two years of performance measurements."

Hackett said ODOT sets aside 5 percent of its $14.5 million budget for issues like new routes. 

A substantial grant could become available for the WVTS in the near future as well. 

"We also have a small funding stream from the MAP-21 federal reauthorization bill which provided a capital grant of $1.25 million but we're waiting on guidance from the federal government on how that money is to be distributed," Hackett said. "This comes from the Federal Transit Administration and the USDOT (United States Department of Transportation)." 

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