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franklin county times

City could reconsider transit funding cut

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Nov. 1, 2001
City councilmen plan to reconsider a decision that cut almost $21,000 from the Meridian Transit Authority, left three bus drivers without work and ended weekend service to Naval Air Station Meridian.
The $20,700 cut from the authority's $139,000 funding request also meant it lost an additional $60,000 in matching money it could have received from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
Meridian councilmen could discuss transit funding at their next meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Council President George Thomas of Ward 1 said at a city council work session Wednesday that a transit authority report shows collections on the NAS Meridian bus route have been down since May. Fares dropped each month, from $2,442 in May to $1,789 in September.
The report shows that collections were lower each month this year than they were for the same period in 2000.
At the same time, ridership fluctuated climbing from 1,717 in January to 2,163 in February before dropping. In August, there were 601 passengers; the number increased to 825 in September.
Cmdr. Sally Benson, commanding officer for the Naval Technical Training Center at NAS Meridian, said many of her students use the bus.
One alternative is taking a taxi, which costs $5-$20 for a one-way trip depending on how many people divide the cab fare. Since many students are 18-20, she said, they are unable to rent a car.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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