According to Oro Valley Councilman Steve Solomon, no changes will be made in 2011 to the town’s Coyote Run transit system.
However, while no vote or changes are expected, discussions are continuing between the town, the Regional Transportation Authority, and the Friends of Coyote Run residents’ group.
Solomon, who was appointed along with fellow Councilman Lou Waters to a subcommittee to research the issue, said the updates will continue. To keep the lines of communication open, more town hall-style meetings will be held in the future, he added.
“We will continue to collect the data and work to meet the needs of the community,” said Solomon. “We want to make it clear that we are in no hurry. Nothing is changing this month or next month. Nothing will change until at least February.”
A decision is required by February, when an intergovernmental agreement with the RTA is set to expire.
Coyote Run is Oro Valley’s demand-response transit service for residents who are disabled and/or 62 years of age or older. As part of the data-collection process, Waters and Solomon are going into the community to meet residents who rely on Coyote Run as their primary source of transportation.
The men have met with members of the Friends of Coyote Run organization, which held a meeting last week to update its members and residents.
Terry Thompson, one of the group’s organizers, said the FCR has nine core members who meet every Tuesday to discuss ways to keep Coyote Run on track.
Thompson pays Coyote Run more than $300 a month to transport his daughter, who is mentally handicapped, to and from a school in Tucson.
Thompson and other Coyote Run users said they are not opposed to paying higher fees if it means keeping the service.
“The more I have become involved in this issue, the more I realize how much our senior citizens have at stake,” said Thompson. “As a parent of a handicapped child, it is important that we maintain Coyote Run. But, if they didn’t, we’d survive. If we lose Coyote Run, or in certain scenarios with the RTA derivative, senior citizens would lose a level of service that may seem inconsequential to you, me or the council, but in fact, is traumatic to them.”
After the state stopped funding Coyote Run two years ago, town officials began looking for an alternative to fund the $330,000 transit system.
The answer appeared to be through a contract with RTA, which was slated to take over the town’s transit services on July 1.
However, council members halted plans to turn the system over in June, when they voted 6-1 to fund Coyote Run for another year. Since then, the council has reconsidered the decision; it created the subcommittee to further research the issue.
Thompson said FCR members understand that a vote to halt the transit services would only impact 2 percent of Oro Valley’s total population; however, he noted the group will continue to fight to retain the high-quality services by educating non-users.
Through fliers and speaking engagements, Thompson said the group’s goal is to educate the entire community.
Moving forward, Thompson said citizens are expecting the council to communicate with residents more than in the past by conducting additional public meetings and informational sessions. The FCR would like all the information presented before a vote is taken.
Solomon said the meetings are in the planning stages, but no official dates have been set.
Councilmen Steve Solomon and Lou Waters will update the Oro Valley Town Council on the transit subcommittee’s progress during the council’s regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.