Kitsap Transit will consider more service cuts Thursday

Not enough members of the Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners arrived to its regularly scheduled meeting last week to form a voting quorum, so the July 21 meeting was rescheduled.

Several members of the public had arrived early at the Norm Dicks Government Center — presumably to comment on the agency’s proposed plan to reduce bus service even more — and when one man in the audience asked which members were absent and why, Commissioner Will Maupin declined to answer.

“Out of respect for the families, I am not answering,” said Maupin, who was asked by board clerk Cathie Knox Browning to stand in for board vice-chair Josh Brown, who was absent.

Maupin said the meeting would be scheduled one week from Tuesday, but Kitsap Transit Executive Director said it might be closer to mid-week.

Knox Browning said an announcement will be made when the meeting is scheduled.

The board was expected to vote on resolution 09-47, which will “implement a two-stage set of service reductions affecting both Routed and ACCESS services in order to further respond to continuing budget crises” caused by declining sales tax revenues.

According to Hayes, the transit agency receives 80 to 85 percent of its revenue from sales taxes, which are projected to be 10 percent less than revenues collected in 2007. With volatile fuel costs taken into account, the agency predicts it will have a deficit of $1.5 million to $2 million at the end of 2009.

Since August of 2008, the agency has increased fares by at least 20 percent twice, raising the full fare from $1.25 to $2, and the reduced fare from 60 cents to $1.

The agency also reduced its service hours by 10 percent — eliminating Sunday trips by both buses and ferries — and laid-off 15 employees. Through attrition and a hiring freeze, the overall staffing level of the agency has been reduced by 11 percent.

However, Hayes determined that “additional options to further reduce expenditures (must be considered),” and the board will be asked to make “two rounds of cuts, one in July for September implementation, and one in the fall for implementation in December.”

As part of the service reduction recommendations, Hayes suggested to the board’s planning sub-committee that the agency run more frequent services on a “spine that will serve high density areas.”

In the Port Orchard area, this recommendation involves “restructuring” five routes — 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 — into only three routes. Also, Route 23 would be eliminated, and “replaced with feeder service to spine as new plan is developed.”

As far as Access service, the agency currently provides three trips each weekday to “outlying areas,” which includes Olalla and Burley in South Kitsap.

Hayes presented three alternatives that would cut the service to a “minimum.” The first would reduce trips to two per day, one in the morning and one in the evening on weekdays, at a reduction of $73,018. The second would reduce the trips to two per day, but add one additional weekday trip, at a savings of $58,414.

The third option would provide only “lifeline” service, which would constitute only one morning and one evening trip three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Those reductions would save the agency $131,433.

The public can comment on the proposed service reductions at the agency’s next meeting, which has been scheduled for Thursday, July 30 at 12:30 p.m. at the Norm Dicks Government Building.

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