Specialized weekend bus service for seniors could be cut as a way to save money, among other changes recommended by city commissioners.

Specialized weekend bus service for seniors could be cut as a way to save money, among other changes recommended by city commissioners. (Times Community News / June 15, 2012)

Transportation commissioners this week recommended several changes to bus service for seniors and the disabled, including cutting weekend service, as they grapple with reduced funding.

In an effort to generate more income for the service, an outreach program could begin in the next two months to remind seniors of the voluntary 50-cent fare in the hopes of getting more riders to pay, Transportation Commission Chairman Paul Dyson said.

The Joslyn Adult Center will be the target of most of the outreach, Dyson said.

Officials say services like BurbankBus, BurbankBus Senior & Disabled Transit and Got Wheels!, which was retained only for the summer months, rely heavily on sales tax revenue that has declined during the economic downturn.

Transportation commissioners are charged with keeping an eye on Proposition A and C funds, which are used for the city’s bus service.

Proposition A, which supports the senior service, “has such a large deficit and we’ve almost burned through the reserves we have,” Dyson said, adding that a deficit is projected for next fiscal year.

Savings generated by the proposed cuts to the weekend service were estimated at about $100,000 a year, Dyson said.

“Commissioners felt the primary objective of the service was to allow riders to make doctor appointments and make it to the Joslyn center for the lunch program Monday to Friday,” Dyson said. “Partially cutting the Saturday and Sunday service didn’t achieve enough savings. Only two buses operate on the weekends at this time and we still have office staff.

Cutting weekend service, combined with increasing voluntary fare income, “seemed like the least painful option,” he added.

The commission also recommended using an advertising agency to sell ads on buses, which could, under the most optimistic estimate, raise about $50,000.

If the 50-cent donation were mandatory, Transit Services Manager Adam Emmer has estimated that $24,000 could be brought in each year, assuming there was not a drop in ridership if the rule was instituted.

“Even if we get the maximum benefits from cuts and ads, it only covers about half the deficit,” Dyson said. “Then it would be up to the City Council to decide whether to supplement the service with non-Prop A and C funds, [possibly from] the General Fund, or make further cuts.”

It was not immediately known when the City Council will take up the matter.

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