Legislators discuss public transit options
YATES COUNTY—District Manager of First Transit Bus Company Jim Gorman presented information and options to the Yates County Legislature during their meeting Monday, May 13 about the possibility of bringing public bus transportation to the county. Gorman said First Transit already has contracts with Chemung, Steuben, Allegany, Cortland, Clinton and Chenango Counties as well as the city of Corning. He said having a public transit system would benefit potential riders like seniors, persons with disabilities, low-income residents and even the Mennonite community.
Gorman said college students could also benefit from a bus service, allowing them to travel between Keuka College and surrounding villages more easily. He said First Transit already provides services to St. Bonaventure, University of Buffalo and The College at Brockport.
Gorman said passenger fares amount to only 15 percent of their funding, and there is federal funding available for operating and capital assistance. He said they can also contribute to funding through their partnerships with other entities like colleges, businesses, the chamber of commerce, local government funding and through the department of social services. Gorman said agencies that provide transportation would be able to partner with the public transit system and provide the same amount of services for less money.
Gorman outlined three different contract options for the county should the legislature decide to implement a public transit system. One option is a flat annual fee that remains the same regardless of ridership numbers. The second is a sponsorship contract, which would require the county to pay on a monthly basis which would vary based on the levels of service provided. The third is a form of some combination of the two.
Gorman also said the contracts can be set up in a variety of ways, including First Transit manages the transit system while Yates County employs the operating staff, while another option allows First Transit to manage the entire system and be the employer. He said the final contract type will be determined by Yates County. Gorman said First Transit will also provide capital necessary to start the system, a local site for garage facility, drivers and mechanics, a general manager and other administrative staff.
Legislator Tim Dennis expressed concerns about getting out of a contract if the county wanted to discontinue service. Gorman said all of their contracts have an escape clause, and the length of the contract depends on the county’s comfort level. He said a standard contract lasts about five years, although colleges often opt for a longer contract.
In other business:
• The legislature recognized the life saving acts of Dispatcher Ann Niver by presenting her with an award at the meeting. Legislator Donna Alexander said Niver is credited with saving the life of a young boy by providing CPR instructions over the phone to help resuscitate a boy who had fallen into his family’s pond.
• Additional legislators announced their plans for reelection in the Sept. 10 primary and Nov. 5 general election during the meeting, including Dennis, Donald House and Jim Multer. Also announcing his candidacy is the current Benton Supervisor Robert Clark. These names are added to the list that also includes Yates County Chairman Taylor Fitch, Robert Multer, Doug Paddock, Dan Banach and Italy Supervisor Margaret Dunn. Alexander said she does not plan to run for reelection, while former treasurer Bonnie Percy said she would like to run for a seat which would cover Barrington and Starkey.
• The board set a public hearing for a proposed local law to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species for Monday, June 10 at 6 p.m. The legislature also passed a resolution officially changing the start time of their June meeting from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.