Sunday service is restored for Annapolis buses NTC

September 17, 1992|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Annapolis buses will start running again on Sundays, a year after the service was interrupted because of state budget cuts.

Dozens of bus riders complained after the service was discontinued last summer when the city lost $65,000 in transportation subsidies.

The city was able to restore and even slightly expand the Sunday schedule, starting Oct. 4, after the county chipped in $70,000 at Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' request. But the program is in jeopardy again as the state readies another round of budget cuts to offset a half-billion-dollar shortfall.

James T. Chase, the city's transportation director, said he hopes to increase ridership by running buses from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and extending the route to Riva Road. The city dropped the Sunday buses because only 100 people used to ride buses that day, in contrast to some 600 on most weekdays and 1,100 on Saturdays.

Fares cover less than a quarter of the bus service's expenses, forcing the transportation department to rely heavily on government subsidies. The city only contributes about 10 percent of the department's $1.5 million annual budget, the rest coming from the state and federal governments.

How long the Sunday service will continue remains a question as the state prepares the next round of reductions to cope with the deficit. Gov. William Donald Schaefer met with legislative leaders Tuesday and proposed deep cuts, including slashing $30 million from the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, who fought to keep buses running on Sundays, said the service is critical for people who rely on public transportation.

"I consider that a major accomplishment," he said. "It's going to be a tremendous benefit to my constituents, particularly working-class people, who were left with no alternatives."

Employees in the hotel and restaurant industry frequently ride buses, Mr. Chase said. The Sunday program also will serve churchgoers and shoppers.

Mr. Snowden said he hopes the city will eventually provide free bus service for senior citizens. Seniors now pay a fare of 35 cents. Regular bus fare is 75 cents.

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