RTA to make big decisions next week

Public input requested

The future of air and ground transportation in the Gunnison Valley, at least in the near term, will be decided by the Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority board of directors during their upcoming meeting on Friday, May 15.



Due to significant budget restraints expected in 2009 and 2010, the RTA has been discussing the option of reducing airline service to the Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport, as well as reducing the number of daily trips on the free up and down valley RTA bus.
The RTA’s fund balance is taking a hit due to low ticket sales among airlines serving the local airport with jet aircraft last winter. The RTA and Crested Butte Mountain Resort both contribute to financial performance guarantees with the airlines, and for the past winter season’s service the two entities owe $1.4 million to the airlines.
The RTA’s tax revenues are also coming in under budget so far in 2009.
The RTA’s Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting will be discussing the matter and taking public comments on Thursday, May 14. The advisory committee is made up of business representatives and residents interested in transportation.
“We’re just trying to figure out where we need to focus our energy right now,” says RTA director Scott Truex.
“We’re in a huge conundrum,” says board member Kimberly Metsch. “Everyone knows the bus keeps working people moving up and down the valley, and the airlines bring visitors that keep our tourism economy running… What we need to figure out is what is going to provide the best benefit to the valley in how we spend our money.”
Truex says he has received several letters and comments via e-mail that will be included in the RTA’s board packet for Friday.
At both meetings Truex will begin by giving a quick overview of the RTA’s budget situation. Then the RTA’s airline consultant Kent Myers will discuss how the air program and funding guarantees work. Truex notes that arranging funding for the air program is more complicated than paying for the bus service. Different funding scenarios for the air and ground transportation services will be examined, and public input will be taken at both meetings.
The RTA Citizens Advisory Committee meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the Crested Butte town hall council chamber on May 14. The RTA’s regular meeting will be held at 8 a.m. in the commissioner room of the Gunnison County Courthouse on May 15.

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