COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Supplemental Funding Request - JAUNT

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Request $60,000 in supplemental funding for JAUNT for the current fiscal year, FY04.

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Tucker, White, Wade

 

LINK TO ATTACHMENT(S):

 
LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

March 3, 2004

 

ACTION:     x                        INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:                             INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   no

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND: 

Due to increases in the demand for JAUNT services in the County’s urban area, JAUNT is facing a shortfall of as much as $60,000 for FY04.  Without additional funding,  JAUNT will have to begin service reductions in the County, which means turning down requests for rides.  JAUNT has seen an extraordinary increase in the requests for trips in the urban Albemarle ring.  Albemarle, which is driving this increase after level funding for the current year and minimum increases over the past several fiscal years.  To address the increased ridership and the pending shortfall, JAUNT has requested an additional $60,000 from the County 

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

3.1 Make the County a safe and healthy community in which citizens feel secure to live, work and play.

 

 

DISCUSSION:

From FY02 to FY03 the number of trips increased by 18%, and the numbers for the first three months of FY04 suggest that ridership could increase an additional 26%. In analyzing the data, JAUNT estimates that about a third of the increase can be attributed to the Wood’s Edge development, another third to the Rio Hill Apartments, and the remaining trips being fairly spread out throughout the urban area, including medical, work, and miscellaneous trips.

 

The increased service trend in the urban area actually began during the last fiscal year, but the snowy months masked the change, since ridership was temporarily restricted by the weather.  The problem of increased ridership is compounded by the fact that during last year’s budget process, the County essentially flat-funded JAUNT after removing $35,000 for Big Blue.  This left no margin for the increased demand for public transportation.  Unfortunately, federal urban funding has been capped for several years and additional federal funds are available only for the rural service increases.  As rural services increase, there are offsetting federal revenues, but there is no opportunity for increased funding except with local funds in the urban areas.  The chart below shows the increase in ridership in the urban area compared to the other areas of the County, as well as the Albemarle local contribution since FY99

 

JAUNT SERVICE IN ALBEMARLE COUNTY

FY99 to FY05 Projected

 

Options: 

1) One option might seem to be a service reduction for the current year, which would mean not accepting requests for demand response service, particularly in the urban area.  The problem with this option is that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that JAUNT provide demand-response service to people certified as having a disability within three-quarters of a mile of any fixed route bus service. Albemarle County’s policy designates the target area for comparable ADA services as the whole urban area, not just the area within 3/4 area of the CTS routes. Federal regulations preclude JAUNT from turning down any requests for service in the urban area if passengers call by 5 PM the day before.  Therefore, JAUNT must provide services to all eligible riders within the urban area or face a potential legal challenge for denying equal access under ADA regulations. For ADA purposes, CTS does the certifications and then passengers call directly to JAUNT for service. 

 

2) Another option would be to discontinue Sunday service for County residents, but this would save only $3,200 for the year. 

 

3) A third option would be to change our ADA policy, by limiting ridership to those eligible riders who live within ¾ mile of the bus lines.  This change could save approximately $14,400 a year, but that would require increasing the urban fare outside of the ¾ mile from the current $1.50 to $10.00.  Increasing the fare would require a public hearing, so the reality of implementing a fare change in time to offset the shortfall in the current year is unlikely.  However, this policy change could be implemented for the next fiscal year. 

 

4) A fourth option would be to increase the fares in the rural areas to offset the increased ridership in the urban area.  Raising rural fares could lower the shortfall by $23,600 annually.  However, a public hearing would be required to increase JAUNT fares and implementing a new fare in the current year would provide only a minimal  offset to the budget shortfall.  A quarter of the fiscal year would only increase revenues by $5,900 and that would require new fares to be in place by April 1.   However, it is still an option for the Board to consider when it reviews JAUNT’s  FY05 funding needs  

 

                                                JAUNT RURAL FARE INCREASES

 

The $1.50 fare currently charged in the urban ADA area cannot be raised unless the CTS fare was to change, since ADA regulations stipulate that fares for disabled riders cannot be more than twice as much as the regular CTS fare, currently set at $0.75.  Therefore, to increase the urban fare as a cost offset, would  require the policy change cited above,  which would reduce the designated ADA target urban area to the ¾ mile restriction.  The chart below shows how the rural fares would have to be increased to offset the urban demand by $23,600 annually.

 

5). A fifth option is raising the fare for non-certified riders, although there are so few riders that do not qualify as disabled that any increased fare would have a minimal impact. Increasing the fare for non-certified riders from the current $8.00 to $15.00 to more accurately reflect the cost of a trip would only raise $3,600 annually.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Due to the limited options available to reduce JAUNT’s shortfall in light of the ADA mandated services to the elderly and disabled, staff recommends approving a supplemental allocation of $60,000 to JAUNT for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  Options for limiting the County’s contribution to JAUNT’s FY05 services can be discussed as part of the March budget worksessions.

 

 

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