Transit buses back on agenda

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Forget farebox ratios and increasing ridership rates.

For now, operators of Calaveras County's public transportation system are more worried about the Board of Supervisors.

The board will be asked Monday to sign a new agreement with the Calaveras Council of Governments that would keep public transportation in the county through June 30, 2007.

Under the proposed agreement endorsed by the Council of Governments, which administers the transit system the county would contract with MV Transportation of Fairfield to manage Calaveras Transit, the county bus system.

But on April 7, supervisors voted 3-2 against a similar request.

Then, two days later, the Council of Governments voted to re-present the same contract to supervisors, but with one change that after six months, supervisors could renegotiate or terminate the contract.

Despite the new clause, Council of Governments Executive Director George Dondero said he's not sure if supervisors will approve the contract.

"I think so, but I don't want to say," he said. "It's hard to tell."

Last month, supervisors Victoria Erickson, Paul Stein and Tom Tryon voted against approving the contract.

They said they don't support using buses because there aren't enough riders to justify spending so much money on the system.

Last year, Calaveras Transit operated on a $725,000 budget. Meanwhile, in the 2001-02 fiscal year, the buses generated just 130 rides per day, and just slightly more last year. The daily rides generated $39,288 in 2001-02.

But Dondero said the current bus system is the most effective means of transportation for the rural, spread-out communities of Calaveras County.

"Cost efficiency improves as a system matures and ridership expands beyond the transit-dependent population," Dondero said in a memo to supervisors.

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The Union Democrat
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