Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Hopewell to keep bus route
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jan 24, 2014, 10:55

HOPEWELL — The bus riders in Hopewell will get another year to enjoy the bus route that winds through the streets in the city. City Council gave a unanimous vote at Tuesday night’s meeting to continue the bus route for another year. 

At the Nov. 12 meeting, a presentation was given by Herbert Bragg, director of intergovernmental and public affairs, regarding the Hopewell Circulator Route. The route was implemented in the city in September 2011 through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant. The three-year grant, in the amount of $454,000, began in September 2011 and will end in August of 2014. 

Currently, the route makes 12 to 13 trips per day with 32 stops per trip. There is an average of 807 weekly riders, 3,554 monthly riders and 27,484 annual riders. The total number of riders, from January to September of this year, was 34,463. 

Hopewell resident Carol Butts spoke before the vote and urged the council members to continue the bus service in the city. 

“It would be nice to keep the buses going because there’s so many people that don’t have any transportation to get back to the doctor and to work,” Butts said. 

The total cost of route, at the current schedule, would cost the city $218,414 to take over operations. City Manager Mark Haley told council he, along with Finance Director Jerry Whitacre, were able to get the cost down to $182,000 due to the budget cycle for the city and the implementation of the grant. 

“What I’m asking council to consider, if you want to continue with the bus service, you’re making an early budget decision, to fund the $182,000 just for next year and also I do still plan on looking to make that a maximum amount,” Haley said. 

Haley also told council he is planning on meeting with Petersburg Area Transit to keep that amount for Hopewell’s contribution at $182,000. In a meeting with PAT, Haley plans on inquiring about opportunities for grants to fund the bus route in the city. 

By taking on this expenditure of the bus route, Haley told council it was not only an early budget decision but it was a new expenditure for the city. Whitacre told council the money for the route will be coming out of revenues identified for 2015. 

While council voted to continue funding the bus route at $182,000 for next year, the years following remain uncertain. During his presentation to council in November, Bragg presented council with other options for the bus route. 

One option presented to council was to reduce the schedule from six days a week to five days a week. This would cost slightly less than the first option at $182,473. The third option would reduce the route even further to four days a week and would cost $146,531. If the route were kept at six days a week, with a reduced schedule, it would cost the city $185,237. 

Though these numbers are close to the $182,000 that was passed at Tuesday, Haley said it is not for certain whether PART will approve keeping that dollar amount the same for the coming years. 

“This $182,000 is the most I would ask you to consider,” Haley said. “And my goal would be to get that lowered if possible.” 

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