Rider predicts 'chaos' if Annapolis cuts buses

June 01, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

Tawana Davis has no doubt about what would happen if the Annapolis City Council goes along with Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' proposal to eliminate bus transportation on Sundays and limit routes into the county.

"This is going to cause big chaos," said Ms. Davis, who relies on the bus to get to her job as a housekeeper at the Courtyard by Marriott on Riva Road.

The city council's finance committee has recommended that the mayor find other ways to balance the 1995 operating budget, but it will be up to the whole council to decide later this month whether to cut the bus service or keep it intact.

At risk are the jobs of at least 20 hotel employees who ride the bus to work each day, as well as clients of the Annapolis health clinic on Harry S. Truman Parkway.

Evelyn Stein, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel health department, said a number of poor women ride the bus to the Annapolis clinic each day for prenatal care and to pick up food vouchers for the Women Infants and Children program.

"I pay taxes for public transportation and now they're taking the bus away," said Ms. Davis, who supports two children on a salary of less than $6 an hour.

Ms. Davis said it is too far to walk from the end of the line to her job. A taxi would cost her $60 a week.

"I'm barely making it as it is," she said.

"I think it's terrible the capital of Maryland doesn't provide bus service," said Ethel Cain, another Courtyard housekeeper.

Ms. Cain lives in Eastport and has worked at the hotel for three years.

Pat Harder, assistant manager at the hotel, worries that he will lose good employees who have worked for the company for many years.

The company has considered hiring a shuttle to pick the workers up and take them home, but it would cost $50,000 a year, he estimated.

Ms. Stein said most of the women seeking prenatal care would qualify for a medical transportation service that assists low-income patients, but they would have to notify the service 48 hours in advance. And most of the women in the WIC program would be unable to use the free medical shuttle.

The clinic sees about 25 WIC participants a day, Ms. Stein said.

Alderman Samuel Gilmer, a Ward 3 Democrat, said he would like to see money generated from proposed increases in parking meter rates and parking fines to help support the public transportation system.

Other aldermen have expressed concerns about cutting bus transportation at a time when the city is trying to encourage residents to drive less and use public transit more.

Mr. Hopkins proposed cutting the bus service on Sundays and reducing service to the county on weekdays as a way to cope with an unexpected revenue shortfall.

Anne Arundel County, which had been paying $70,000 a year toward city transit, unexpectedly dropped its contribution in this year's budget.

County finance officer John Hammond said the county dropped the funding because the city didn't ask for the money.

Danielle Matland, deputy director of the Annapolis Department of Transportation, said more than 1,000 customers ride the Annapolis bus system a day. The transportation costs more than $1 million, of which the city pays $350,000. Federal transportation grants and fares account for the remainder.

Ms. Matland estimates that the proposed cuts would affect more than 100 riders on Sunday and perhaps a dozen on weekdays.

The city would continue to offer transportation to the Annapolis Mall, but buses leaving the mall would turn on Forest Drive instead of continuing on Riva Road past the Heritage Center.

A public hearing on the bus transportation and other budget proposals will be held Monday.

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