COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

FY06 Charlottesville Transit Service (CTS) Funding

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Board direction to determine funding and service levels for CTS in FY06

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Tucker, Foley, Davis, Breeden, Bowman

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:  

No

 

AGENDA DATE:

July 13, 2005

 

ACTION:     X                         INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:                              INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:      Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

In April of 2005, the Board of Supervisors adopted the FY2005-2006 (FY06) budget, allocating $265,972 for the Charlottesville Transit Service (CTS) to provide bus service to parts of the County’s urbanized area. This adopted figure was based on the Board’s direction to increase CTS funding by 10% for FY06 and was significantly less than the $470,201 originally requested by CTS.  After adoption of the budget, CTS informed the County that service would need to be reduced if no additional funding was approved for FY06.  As a result, a meeting was held between the County and City to discuss how transit operating costs and revenues might be shared differently in the current and future fiscal years.  This meeting was attended by Chairman Rooker, Mayor Brown and County and City staff.  At the conclusion of that meeting, it was agreed that County and CTS staff would meet to discuss development of an objective method to share costs and revenues in the future.

 

While the primary purpose of discussion among staff was to consider long term options for funding CTS, due to the City’s need to make final decisions on CTS service for FY06, the City proposed a revised cost sharing arrangement in June that would also make service level adjustments.  These changes in service levels were primarily the result of the recently completed study conducted to identify improvements to current CTS service.  In addition to implementing these recommended improvements, the City’s proposal also reduces the County’s cost for the improved routes by providing a credit for federal and state revenues received by CTS.  Because staff believes this latest proposal addresses needed route improvements and also recognizes federal and state revenues as an offset to County costs, staff felt consideration of a change to the FY06 appropriation should be brought before the Board for consideration. 

 

Below is staff’s analysis and recommendations regarding the City’s proposal to change daytime bus service and to address two new issues related to funding CTS night service and long-term route planning.  Staff asks the Board for direction as to whether additional CTS funding for FY06 should be provided.  Staff will continue to work with CTS over the next few months regarding long term alternatives for CTS funding.

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Enhance the Quality of Life for all Albemarle County Citizens

Provide Effective and Efficient County services to the public in a courteous and equitable manner

 

 

DISCUSSION:

Staff has been working with CTS to address concerns in FY06 regarding CTS day and night-time service as well as planning for future bus routes.  It should be noted the while the City has proposed a credit for federal and state revenues, their proposal was based on a three year arrangement with the credit beginning at 40% in FY06 and decreasing to 35% in FY07 and 30% in FY08.  Rather than a three year arrangement as proposed, staff believes agreement should be limited to FY06, while discussion continues on the long term funding of CTS.  These issues are outlined below for the Board’s consideration.

 

Day-time Service Issues

CTS’s original budget request of $470,201 was based on a formula that allocated direct costs on a per hour basis and gave no consideration to sharing state and federal transit operating revenues with the County. CTS has now proposed a 40% credit for state and federal transit operating revenues in FY06. This credit is approximately equal to the percent of state and federal revenues compared to all revenues received by CTS. Again, staff believes this is a reasonable solution for FY06 and will continue to work with CTS in the coming months to develop an objective long-term method to allocate costs and revenues.

 

In FY06, CTS will implement changes to their routes based on the Charlottesville Transit Improvement Study. These changes are illustrated in Attachment A and Attachment B.  As the maps show, Routes 5 and 7 are combined to create a new Route 5 and service on Route 10 is extended to Martha Jefferson, Westminster and Canterbury. Each route will also see changes to its headways, or the time intervals between stops on round trips. Route 5 will run on a 45 minute headway, where in the past headways were one hour on Route 5 and 7, except for 7 daily peak service hours Monday – Friday, where headways were 30 minutes on Route 5.  Route 10 will continue to run on one hour headways, but buses will travel downtown once every hour instead of half-hour. Funding for changes to Route 5, 7 and 10 with a 40% credit for state and federal revenues will require an additional appropriation of $16,430, which represents a 16.8% increase over the FY05 budget.

 

Night-time Service Issues

In the past, CTS night service has been funded by two grants (each accounting for 50% of Night Service costs) which required no local match. However, after the Board’s FY06 Budget Worksessions in March of 2005, it became evident that one of the two grants will be lost, resulting in only 50% of CTS night service being funded by a grant. To continue this service at its current level, the remaining 50% of the cost must be paid for by localities. CTS has asked the County to fund 50% of the cost for Route 20 and 25% of the cost for Route 23 (the City will also contribute 25% of the cost to Route 23). See Attachment C for the location of these Night Service routes.

 

Based on the FY04 route ridership and service hour data CTS provided, staff does not believe continuation of Route 20 is justified and does not recommend the Board fund this route in FY06.  Route 20 is the poorest performing route when compared to other night service routes on a rider per service hour basis, serving only 2.72 riders per service hour in FY04. Staff does not feel it is justified to fund a $54,284 route with such low ridership.

 

However, staff does recommend providing funding to continue service on Route 23. Although this route does not perform particularly well relative to other night service routes, serving 4.38 riders per service hour, staff believes it is justifiable based on its considerably lower cost of $14,152.  Furthermore, because Route 23 would be jointly funded and clearly serve both County and City citizens, staff believes that maintaining this route as a regional service is appropriate.  It should be noted that none of the grant funding for night service is certain at this time and the City may choose to make other changes to this service depending on the amount of grant funding ultimately approved.

 

Long-term Planning Issues

A additional issue to be addressed is the long-term planning of CTS services. CTS requests the County contribute $20,000 in FY06 towards an update of the Transit Development Plan (TDP) for FY07-FY11. The funding for this study was not part of CTS’s original budget request. The City of Charlottesville has indicated they will contribute a minimum of $60,000 towards this update and has also requested and will receive $20,000 from the University of Virginia.  The update of the TDP will help CTS appropriately address public transportation needs in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. Staff believes that a County expenditure of $20,000 to update the TDP would be justified as the County strives to be a partner in working to fund CTS and solve the area’s transportation challenges.

 

Service to 5th Street Extended/Southwood area

Finally, CTS requests the County again consider providing service to the 5th Steet Extended area of the County. The original CTS estimate of $169,147 for this proposed route did not include any credit for state and federal revenues and provided service every half-hour. Under a new proposal, the route would travel between Downtown and the County Office Building on 5th Street Extended with buses running every hour Monday through Saturday, from approximately 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.   CTS estimates the cost of this route would be $49,204. Staff did not include this route in the recommended FY06 budget and still does not recommend implementing this route in FY06. However, staff does believe further consideration should be given to this route in the coming budget process and as a part of the long-term approach to be developed with CTS.

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

The budget impact of staff’s recommendations is $16,430 to support the improved day-time service on Routes 5 and 10; $14,152 to continue night service on Route 23; and $20,000 in one-time funds to support the update of CTS’s Transit Development Plan for FY07-FY11, for a total of $50,582.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends that the Board approve additional funding for FY06 as outlined in the ‘Budget Impact’ section of this executive summary.  Staff will continue to work closely with CTS in the next few months to further consider alternatives for long-term funding of CTS.  An appropriation for the amount approved will be submitted next month.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment A – Map of Current CTS Day Service routes funded by the County

Attachment B – Maps of Proposed CTS Day Service Routes funded by the County

Attachment C – Map of Current CTS Night Service routes requested to be funded by the County

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