Bus riders pay price for GLTC budget cuts

Budget cuts — GLTC, the provider of bus transportation on Liberty’s campus, has cut its budget and increased fares, affecting those who rely on the bus to get from place to place. Photo credit: Bekah Lohr

Company cuts budget and services to save $320 thousand, clientele affected by inconvenience

After the Lynchburg City Council turned down a $100,000 funding request from the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company (GLTC) in September, the bus company was forced to make major cuts that could be inconvenient for Lynchburg bus riders starting next year.

According to a letter presented in the Oct. 25 city council meeting, GLTC already set budget and service cuts, totaling to more than $320,000 in savings.

The plan has some members of city council, such as Vice Mayor Ceasor Johnson, concerned about the financial strain this will have on bus riders. Johnson said it is not fair that bus riders would have to be inconvenienced because of the mismanagement of the GLTC budget.

“When I think about those people who ride the bus, who are going to have to ride the bus whatever y’all charge, they still don’t have any options,” Johnson said. “And when they can’t afford bus fare, they sure can’t afford taxi fare.”

The bus company plans to cut $120,000 in administration and save over $76,000 in service reduction. They also plan to generate over $122,000 in new revenue with fare increases. If approved, the new budget will be implemented Jan.1, 2012, according to the GLTC board.

A recent audit report of GLTC, requested by city council, revealed that GLTC management was not effectively monitoring cash balances, grant applications and reimbursements. According to the audit report, the GLTC board was not receiving adequate information regarding its finances.

Upon the fare increase and service reduction GLTC implemented Oct. 1, GLTC also wants to reduce weekday and Saturday service and eliminate Route No. 10.

In the letter to city council, GLTC Board President Lisa Dibble assured city council that their decision was not easy.

“These reductions in service were selected carefully to cause our riders the least possible inconvenience,” Dibble said. “We feel these steps are absolutely necessary and unavoidable in order to ensure the financial stability of GLTC going forward, particularly in light of the expectation that our line of credit will be maxed-out again at year-end if we fail to act now.”

After noticing how much budget cuts had already affected bus riders, city council member Randy Nelson was not in favor of further service reductions.

“That 33 percent increase is a huge burden on persons who can least afford it and I don’t think this council has approved any increases of this nature for something that is probably a necessity,” Nelson said. “Our businesses need it, our employees need to get to work, our families need to shop and eat, they need medical attention and some of them need to get to church on Sunday. Until GLTC can get their house in order I would like to look at some short term funding so GLTC can lower the fare to what it was before Oct. 1.”

GLTC will hold public hearings in November and take final action in their December board meeting.

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