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Cottonwood applies for emergency $40K transit loan
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 00:00

Cottonwood City Council voted unanimously Sept. 6 to apply for $40,000 in emergency funds from the Arizona Department of Transportation to maintain public transportation routes serviced by Cottonwood Area Transit until at least June of 2011.

ADOT emergency funds administered through Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority will allow the city to continue services at the current level, although cutbacks on routes and service hours for the 2011-12 fiscal year will be revisited after January, said Kyla Allen, executive assistant to City Manager Doug Bartosh.

A Cottonwood Area Transit bus rumbles past an empty bus stop near Puma Circle in Verde Villages on Sept. 7. Cottonwood City Council voted unanimously later that evening to apply for emergency funding from the Arizona Department of Transportation to continue bus service in Verde Villages.Even with the emergency funding, special service for disabled riders offered only on Saturday will be eliminated, Allen said.

When emergency funds run out next year, Verde Villages could also be eliminated from the CAT route schedule and hours of operation could be reduced for all lines.

Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis notified the city July 30 state highway funds, known as Local Transportation Assistance Funds, would cause the county to decrease its support for public transportation from $67,000 to $27,000, Cottonwood Area Transit Manager Shirley Scott reported.

LTAF funds are used to help local communities build and improve roads using money collected from the Powerball lottery.

In addition to the nearly 60 percent cut in county funds, the cost of services increased, leaving a total shortfall in public transit funding of $56,000, CAT Manager Shirley Scott said.

The council rejected other options that would have required CAT to cut services for disabled people across the board throughout the entire system.

Services to the disabled cost the city nearly $20 per rider, but the city only charges $2 per rider for the service, Scott said.

Cutting hours and eliminating services for the disabled would allow the city to reduce costs by slightly more than $54,000, according to Scott.

Another option, also rejected by the council, would have reduced service to Verde Villages and severely reduced hours of operation to areas outside the city provided on the green line. Had the council agreed, service to Verde Villages would run four hours on peak times only, from 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.

These cuts would have saved slightly less than $24,000, not enough to cover the shortfall, Scott said.


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