By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Calaveras County supervisors tonight will consider approving the budget for the county's controversial public bus system.
The Calaveras Council of Governments, which oversees Calaveras Transit, adopted the $744,156 budget last month. To make the fiscal plan official, though, the council must get final approval from the Board of Supervisors.
In addition to all the costs associated with the bus routes, the budget includes enough money for the buses to drive 500 additional hours. That way, the buses will keep running if routes are made longer, which could happen as the Council of Governments seeks ways to lure more users to the transit system.
Listed fuel costs of $62,000 "reflect calculations made using the highest, pre-Iraqi-war fuel prices," a memo to supervisors from Council of Governments Executive Director George Dondero said.
Also in the budget is $100,000 for a new, 28-passenger bus for the system's busier routes. The 20-passenger buses sometimes fill up on those routes.
If its budget is approved, Calaveras Transit will be in a trial period.
Early in May, supervisors voted 3-2 to contract with a new company to manage the bus system through 2007.
However, the contract includes a clause that would allow the county to review, modify or terminate the contract by the end of this year.
The transit system has drawn criticism for its high costs and low ridership.
In the 2001-02 fiscal year, the transit system operated on a $725,000 budget, but generated just $39,288 with its 130 rides per day.
The recent fiscal year's numbers were similar.
Dondero said at the May meeting that his staff would spend the next six months studying ways to increase bus system revenue everything from changing routes to selling advertising space on the sides of buses.