FLINT (WJRT) -
(05/29/14) - MTA customers are not happy with cutbacks in summer bus service.
The MTA board of directors approved the reductions Thursday morning.
On Tuesday, the MTA heard from people who would be adversely affected if mid-day bus service was reduced and night time service eliminated.
Mounting budget problems forced the board to carry through with the cutbacks.
Less money coming in from property taxes, a drop in ridership and fluctuating fuel prices were the reasons the board cited for trimming service. Fare hikes had already been ruled out.
"We don't think that's an alternative at this point. We think we went as far as we can go. People are paying as much as they can afford," said Ed Benning, MTA general manager.
The move will reduce mid-day bus service, and buses will stop at 6:30 p.m. Between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., there will only be one bus on each route every hour.
Benning says after the cuts take effect on June 24, MTA's Your Ride Service will be used to get customers to and from their jobs, medical appointments and classes at night.
Many doubt it will be able to handle more passengers. At a public hearing, several said Your Ride was not dependable.
Riders know they'll have to make some adjustments.
"I depend on MTA to get to work. It's kind of hard. I'm trying to save my money to get a car," said Markel Taylor.
"This is a slap in the face. They could come up with something better than cutting the service like this and cutting jobs," said MTA bus driver Roger Aubrey.
"From the numbers I've seen, there will be some layoffs," said Chris Jones, MTA bus drivers union president.
Right now, union officials don't know how many drivers will be let go.
Jones can empathize with customers whose normal transportation routine will be disrupted.
"There was a time when I rode the bus to get to work and I understand where a lot of people are coming from," he said. "I kind of saw this coming, the decision the board made. It's not necessarily the decision I want."
The MTA says it realizes there are thousands who depend on the bus system.
"We try to reduce the impact, do it where it has the least impact, but also understand that it does impact individuals. Impacts their lives," Benning said.
Full mid-day service is expected to be restored Sept. 1, but service after 6:30 p.m. won't return until Oct. 1.