Carroll Transit System poses deadline on future

January 21, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Carroll Transit System has set a Feb. 1 deadline for deciding whether to keep the doors open, close or radically cut back service because of a potential $70,000 deficit.

By that morning, the board of directors expects to know whether it can depend on help from the county commissioners that will allow the agency to operate at a lower cost.

The county commissioners and their staff have said they want to help Carroll Transit continue operating, but have not resolved technical and legal questions.

When he heard about Carroll Transit's deadline yesterday, Robert A. "Max" Bair, executive assistant to the commissioners, said he plans to arrange a meeting at which county staffers and the commissioners can discuss the details involved in granting or denying Carroll Transit's request for help.

The Carroll Transit executive board met yesterday and voted to hand-deliver a letter to the commissioners to inform them of the deadline. No response will be interpreted as a "no," the letter will say. That would mean the agency will end its contract with the county July 1.

Waiting longer than February to make such a decision could cause Carroll Transit to close in bankruptcy, said Linda Boyer, the agency's executive director.

"I hope this would not be viewed as a challenge to [the commissioners]," said Jim Glazier, the board's vice president. "We're just saying, 'Here's where we are, here's what we have to do.' "

Carroll Transit wants to be able to pay $25 an hour for county mechanics to maintain its vans. The agency has been paying a private firm $37 an hour to do the work.

The transit agency also has asked the commissioners for a $10,000 loan to buy software that would create more efficient routes and billing, and for the ability to purchase gasoline through the county after hours or on holidays when the county's maintenance center pump is closed.

The county and Carroll Transit have an implied contract for the private, nonprofit agency to provide reduced-price rides for senior citizens, handicapped people and low-income people.

If the board decides to end county service, it would reduce staff, vans and overall costs. The agency could still operate a shopper shuttle, state-subsidized rides for people on medical assistance and service for other small contracts it has with private agencies, Ms. Boyer said.

She recommended that the board seek legal advice before stopping county service. Although Carroll Transit and the county government have no formal contract, they have been operating on the implied continuation of the agreement that has existed since 1988. That was the year Carroll Transit was spun off from county government into a private agency.

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