The elderly and disabled may soon have fewer transportation options in Oro Valley.
The Oro Valley Town Council plans to consider cuts to the town's Coyote Run transit system at the Wednesday, June 2 meeting. Its decision could result in a 50 percent reduction to the service when the new fiscal year begins July 1.
Coyote Run is needs-based transit system that serves the town's senior citizens without transportation as well as people who qualify under the American's with Disabilities Act.
For riders like Oro Valley resident Patricia Hall, the cuts would put constraints on the mobility she once had.
"There's so much good that Coyote Run offers for people," said Hall, who is legally blind and uses Coyote Run to go grocery shopping and to get to doctors appointments.
Coyote Run also serves numerous residents with developmental disabilities who depend upon the service for rides to school and work.
If the council approves the cuts, Coyote Run's hours of operations would be reduced, along with service to areas outside of the town. The service would no longer take riders to areas outside Oro Valley for anything except doctor's appointments. Internal trips for any reason would still be allowed.
Hall said because her health is still good she doesn't often have to use the service for medical reasons.
"Some Coyote Run passengers go to doctors appointments daily — I'm more fortunate," Hall said.
If the council adopts the changes, passengers would have to schedule rides at least 48 hours in advance. In addition, the service would only be able to accommodate 40 passenger rides per day.
The budget cuts and funding sweeps made by the Arizona Legislature necessitated the local service cuts.
The legislature eliminated Local Transportation Assistance Funding for Coyote Run and numerous municipal transit systems across the state.
There are two LTAF funds. The first was instituted in 1980 with the voter-approved adoption of the Arizona State Lottery. Support for various local transportation programs comes from a portion of Arizona Lottery ticket sales. The second, LTAF II, was begun by the Legislature in 1998, when the Powerball multi-state lottery was brought to Arizona. Distribution of these funds is made on a population-based formula and go toward transit programs like Coyote Run.
Elimination of state support could amount to a $244,000 cut for Oro Valley, according to figures compiled by the Pima Association of Governments.
The legislative sweep of LTAF funds has hit other communities as well.
Pima County would take a $548,848 hit from sate reductions. The City of Tucson would see a $3.1 million reduction in LTAF assistance.
Maricopa County suffered the biggest reduction of state support with the loss of $23 million in annual funding to its transit services for fiscal 2011.
Some needs-based passengers would be able to use Handicar, a Regional Transportation Authority administered service similar to Coyote Run. Handicar's service area doesn't go north of Tangerine Road. Town officials have discussed with the RTA the possibility of extending Handicar service areas.
In the long term, the RTA likely would take the lead in all regional transit services, as has been discussed regarding Sun Tran.
"I think when Coyote Run was getting federal grants and winning grants," Hall said, "it was one of the best services in the United States."
State cuts to transportation in Pima County
The Arizona State Legislature swept LTAF and LTAF II funds earlier this year. The money, received from lottery sales, is normally distributed to local governments to fund various transportation programs.
Government Estimated loss
Pima County $548,848
Oro Valley $244,740
South Tucson $33,377
Source: Pima Association of Governments