Whither Carroll Transit? CARROLL COUNTY

January 26, 1993

Public transportation is an essential public service, and Carroll County is in real danger of losing its transit system. Carroll Transit, the non-profit agency that has operated a 17-van fleet for the past four years, may begin closing down on Feb. 1 if it doesn't get help from the county government to fill a projected $70,000 deficit.

Carroll Transit had proposed several money-saving measures to JTC the county. Instead of using private garages to repair and maintain the agency's fleet, its board proposed using the county garage, which would save about $12,000 to $15,000 a year in maintenance cost. Carroll Transit also asked for a $10,000 loan to purchase computer software that could be used to compile more efficient schedules and routes. The transit agency also wants the county to include it under its umbrella liability policy, a projected $25,000 annual savings.

County officials say they are interested in assisting the agency, but none of the requested help has been forthcoming. Some legal and technical issues have to addressed, according to the county. Unfortunately for Carroll Transit, time is running out. By setting the deadline, Carroll Transit's board is imposing an appropriate sense of urgency.

Carroll Transit needs some temporary financial support until some salutary restructuring of some of its transportation contracts with the state takes effect. The agency's request is not going to cost the county any money, with the possible exception of the $10,000 computer software loan. The commissioners should be able to make a quick decision.

The other reality the commissioners have to deal with is the transit company's fare structure. Senior citizens are currently paying $1 per trip to the senior centers. Carroll Transit is losing money on those fares and needs to raise them. Officials in the Bureau of Aging have opposed these fare increases, but seniors who have been surveyed said they would rather pay more than have the van service terminated. Other fares may have to be raised as well if Carroll Transit is to continue as a self-sufficient organization.

Carroll Transit has raised $16,000, but that is not enough to weather the current crisis. Unless the county comes through soon, Carroll's elderly, handicapped and poor will find themselves without transportation.

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