In a 6-1 vote April 20, the Oro Valley Town Council voted to eliminate its Coyote Run transit system. The program’s final day is June 30.
Councilman William Garner voted against the measure, stating he felt the money could be found in the 2011-2012 budget to keep the program intact.
By eliminating the program, Aimee Ramsey from the town’s development and infrastructure services, said 816 active riders would definitely be impacted. There are currently 1,700 registered users.
Ramsey asked for council direction, stating there is a strict timeline to eliminate Coyote Run and to find a workable transition for active users to transfer to services provided by in the region.
Town officials estimate they will save $220,000 by eliminating the program.
Besides impacting hundreds of citizens who regularly use the service, 13 employees in the transit department also will be let go. One employee has been with the program for 10 years.
Ramsey said they would have to get rid of 11 vehicles and repay some grant funding, at a total cost of $63,000 to the town.
Council members called it a tough decision to make because so many will be impacted, but promised to assist those in need to transition to the regional transportation program.
“The state stopped funding the program over a year ago,” said Councilman Joe Hornat. “As difficult as this is for us to do, Aimee and (Councilman Lou Waters) have done everything they can to soften the blow.”
Councilman Steve Solomon said residents don’t want tax increases, but at the same time the council has to make tough decisions to eliminate employees and eliminate a program many residents depend on.
Garner continued to be against the proposal, asking for more time to discuss and debate over what else could be cut from the proposed 2011-12 budget to save Coyote Run going.
“This is a community of excellence,” he said. “This is one of those programs.”
Garner said if the program must be eliminated, residents should be given a year to transition, instead of two months as planned.
Vice Mayor Mary Snider said the council warned residents a year ago that they probably couldn’t continue funding the transit system without state assistance.
Councilman Barry Gillaspie said he didn’t like having to vote on the measure before budget discussions have even started. But, Ramsey said for budget purposes, the program has to be dissolved by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
“We are paralyzed as a town, and have to make some tough decisions,” Gillaspie said. “People with less, people who are handicapped and have health issues will lose. Unless we knew of a way out of this, I would vote with Councilman Garner.”
With approval to eliminate the program, a letter was sent to the Regional Transportation Authority, giving 90 days notice to terminate the intergovernmental agreement.
Now, Ramsey will schedule the required public hearings, and start working on finding Coyote Run users alternative transportation.
For assistance to find alternative transportation, contact Aimee Ramsey at 229-4980 or email at email@example.com.
Alternative services available
All Riders: Sun Shuttle Service Dial-a-ride
The Sun Shuttle Dial-a-Ride service, serving the blue zone, remains available to all riders. This service operates Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and is available to anyone traveling within the defined area. Those wishing to travel outside the blue zone may do so through transfers to the regional transit system. For information, call 792-9222 or visit www.suntran.com/sunshuttle/shuttle-route.htm.
Certified Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Passengers: Handi-car
Since 2007, the Regional Transportation Authority has been expanding Handi-car service into Oro Valley. Residents certified through the Americans with Disabilities Act may utilize the Handi-car service available through the Regional Transportation Authority. Contact Handi-car at 881-3391 for additional information regarding service, fares and vouchers.
Senior and Disabled Adult Passengers
Organizations, such as Interfaith Community Services, provide transportation to medical appointments, grocery stores, banks, libraries and other locations for senior and disabled adult passengers. The registration process for these services typically includes a three-week processing period. For information, call 297-6049 or visit www.icstucson.org.