05/14/09 — GATEWAY hearing May 26

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GATEWAY hearing May 26

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 14, 2009 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority Board will hold a public hearing later this month on its efforts to secure $674,313 in federal stimulus funding for the rural side of its GATEWAY bus system.

The money would be utilized to purchased three replacement vehicles and to fund a preventive maintenance program.

GATEWAY Director Alan Stubbs said he is hopeful the application will not only be funded, but that it will receive pre-qualification that would allow him to get the projects under way prior to Aug. 1 when the grant period actually starts.

The hearing will be held during the board's Tuesday, May 26 meeting at 10 a.m. in the anteroom located adjacent to the City Council chambers on the second floor of city hall.

Two hearings will be held, one for the stimulus grant application and the other one on GATEWAY's proposed rural and urban budgets for fiscal year 2009-2010.

The stimulus grant application includes $219,000 for three replacement vehicles, $73,000 for an additional vehicle, $89,313 for associated capital projects and $293,000 for the preventive maintenance program.

The system's regular budget proposal includes funding to replace the three vans. Most of the cost would be covered by state and federal funds, but would require a local 10 percent match of roughly $22,000.

Stubbs said the process to replace the vans starts when they reach 100,000 miles. However, they normally have between 140,000 to 180,000 miles because of the time lag between approval of the budget by July 1 and November when they are ordered.

The vans will be replaced with 22-foot-long light transportation vehicles (LTVs) that more closely resemble buses.

"Vans have changed," he said. "They were 13-seaters and now they only have eight. We are losing seats."

The LTVs have 14 seats.

The $73,000 in the request would be to add a new LTV to the system's fleet. That vehicle is not included in GATEWAY's regular budget.

Stubbs also hopes to use the bulk, about 90 percent, of the $89,313 for associated capital to purchase 22 new radios. The new radios would allow communication between the rural vehicles and the new communications system the county is implementing.

The radios are not in GATEWAY's regular budget.

The deadline application was May 12 and had to include a priority ranking.

For Stubbs it was no question, the $293,000 for preventative maintenance topped the list. Economics is the reason.

Currently the system's revenues foot the bill for maintenance.

"That is a 100 percent savings to me whereas the vehicles would only be 10 percent (the local match)," he said.

Stubbs said he already has applied for the pre-approval and expects to hear with two months whether it would be approved.

"That way you qualify before it (grant period use) starts in August," he said.

For example, Stubbs said that would allow him to begin hiring someone for maintenance. His goal is to have a maintenance facility.

There is no guarantee the application will be funded, he said.

"If I don't ask then I know we won't get it," he said.

Also unclear is how funding from the city and county will be affected because of the economy.

Complicating the issue further is that the agencies, such as the Department of Social Services, whose clients use the system could also face budget cuts that affect GATEWAY as well.

Stubbs said he is unsure how soon he learn of the application's fate.