FLINT (WJRT) -
(05/27/14) - The Mass Transportation Authority in Flint got an earful from riders who are upset about plans to reduce service this summer.
MTA held the first of two public hearings, Tuesday, at their headquarters in Flint.
Riders stressed that they don't have the luxury of their own transportation, and how much they depend on the MTA to get to school, work and the doctor. Many customers say they'll lose their jobs if the MTA carries through with its plans.
From June 24 - Sept. 1, fixed route bus service would be reduced to once an hour from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There would be only one bus an hour an each route.
From June 24 - Oct. 1, fixed route bus service would end at 6:30 p.m.
The MTA says it will provide Your Ride service to those who need to get to or from a job, medical appointments or classes. Those at the hearing have little confidence in Your Ride.
"Unfortunately, Your Ride is already overburdened. It's just going to put more stress on the service. In my book, this is just ridiculous to do these changes," one woman said.
The MTA says the cutbacks are needed because funding created by property tax issues has fallen off dramatically in the past few years. Fuel prices also continue to rise. Ridership has been down during the past few months and the harsh winter created $400,000 in unexpected expenses.
That explanation didn't go well.
"They shouldn't just burden us with this and say, 'Deal with it,' one man said.
The MTA board of directors has ruled out a fare increase.
In August, Genesee County votes will decide on a millage renewal for the MTA, which considers it vital for its survival.
"The renewal is very important to us, even though it provides far less money than we received in 2007. The millage renewal is extremely important, but what we need to take a look at is we need to take a look at going out and bringing in some additional funds in the form of a new millage or I call it a recovery and restore. Let's recover some of that money we lost so we can restore service. The needs in this community continue to grow even through the population is less, the people that are here need more service," said Ed Benning, MTA general manager.
Benning says it's possible there could be a new millage for voters to decide in November.
The MTA board of directors will decide on these proposed reductions at its meeting this Thursday at 8 a.m. at the MTA headquarters.