by Stephanie Crosby
Tempers flared this morning at the meeting of TARC’s Board of Directors. The board was considering a number of route eliminations, service cuts and layoffs to offset a projected $5.5-million dollar budget shortfall for the upcoming year.
Several of the TARC operators who were slated for layoff attended the meeting to voice their frustration. Transit union president Jonathan Dooley says they think the agency’s management knew financial troubles were coming, but did nothing to keep from having to resort to layoffs.
“Everybody would like a miracle. But this is business,” says Dooley. “You have to make sound business decisions when in fact the projection is that you’re going to lose possible jobs and possible service to the community.”
Some 45 TARC operators and maintenance personnel will be laid off under the plan approved today.
Board Chair Cedric Powell says TARC has some work to do on re-evaluating its business model.
“We rely upon this occupational tax, which is flat. So we’re facing a number of financial difficulties and it’s just exacerbated in this particular economy,” says Powell. “So we’re always trying to think of new things, but in order to innovate, you need money, so we’re back to where we started from.”
The budget also includes eliminating four routes along Hurstbourne Parkway, River Road, Indian Trail and Bashford Manor. Twenty other routes will see frequency reductions. Some express routes will also have a one-dollar increase in fare.
The fare increases take place July first; the service reductions start June sixth.