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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,
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Meeting tonight City getting to the route of bus issue

Thursday, May 22, 2014 - Updated: 10:12 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

casey.croucher@recordernews.com

The Amsterdam Common Council will meet with the city's Transportation Department tonight to discuss options regarding the city's transit system on the heels of losing two vendors.

City Controller Matt-hew Agresta said the city lost another vendor, in addition to Fulton-Montgomery Comm-unity College, which opted to seek another bus service after negotiations with the city failed to produce an agreement.

"During this year, we had four different vendors that we were transporting people [who] weren't necessarily in the city," Agresta said. "We went to all four of those vendors to ask them if they would allocate some of the costs that we were incurring for running those systems. Two of those vendors agreed to an increase and the price we were charging, and two others did not."

The city requested a subsidy of $72,000 from F-MCC, but college president Dustin Swanger was looking for more services in light of student complaints.

Amsterdam Transit has been busing students to the college for more than 10 years at no cost, but this year, transit officials had requested payment. At a budget meeting last month, transportation director Cheryl Scott told the Common Council that all of the city's bus vendors have not chipped in for gas, mileage, maintenance or use of the vehicles.

And because of that, the transportation fund is operating at a deficit of more than $250,000, Scott said.

Besides F-MCC, Agresta said he can't say who the other three vendors are.

He said the amount of money necessary to transfer from the general fund to the transportation fund has been decreased by about $50,000 now that two of the city's vendors have bailed.

"We haven't yet included any advertising revenue to that figure so that transfer should decrease further, but I won't know how much until [tonight]," he said.

Agresta said the city has not looked for, or contracted with, any new vendors.

He said the loss of two vendors has created a savings greater than the loss in revenue the city has incurred.

However, he said the decision to keep the service with two vendors is the council's choice.

"The decision is entirely up to the council," he said. "They could shut the whole thing down or keep it going. I would hope we keep it going because it is good for the residents of the city who don't have transportation otherwise. But it's still a $250,000 burden for the general fund to cover the losses we are incurring with transportation."

However, Agresta said a potential casino would be reason enough to continue the bus service.

"If we have a shot at getting that casino that would be a reason we would want to keep the bus service around because there will be a lot more people who will need it," he said.

He said projections of how the service will run without the two vendors is difficult because it hasn't happened in 10 years.

Scott said she needs to talk to the council about an updated report on the city's transit system, the routes, the vendors, and how much money they will lose or save with a new plan.

The council will meet with Scott at 6 p.m. in City Hall, where a budget review will follow. Agresta said calculations for the bus service will be finalized for the meeting.

     

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