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YMPO meeting: Dial-A-Ride and YCAT will live on
City of Yuma residents could have a harder time catching public transportation in the near future after a vote Thursday from the local transportation planning organization.
The Executive Board of the Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization (YMPO) voted in favor of continuing the Yuma County Area Transit (YCAT) and the Dial-A-Ride (DAR) services - but with a reduction in service within the city limits.
All members of the Board voted for the option, with the exception of the newest member, Michael Jones, with the Arizona Department of Transportation, who abstained.
The move stems from a Yuma City Council vote Wednesday night that shot down a motion to fund the services for three months at the cost of $54,376.93. That vote count was 4-3.
Yuma Mayor Al Krieger said it all comes down to the city not having enough funds available.
Both services receive federal funding, 80 percent for capital costs and a 50 percent match for operational costs, but they also rely on local entities whose residents use the services to contribute.
Yuma was the largest stakeholder in the past and city residents were the majority of the riders.
What the vote means for city residents now is still up in the air, said YMPO Executive Director Charlene FitzGerald.
Thursday, the board also approved a needs assessment and the establishment of a YCAT/DAR subcommittee.
In that assessment, FitzGerald said staff will evaluate which services could be reduced. Changes could happen as soon as Aug. 31, she said.
Krieger said he's “not sure” how residents will respond, and says the vote by the City Council was not about denying residents' services but “complying with our budget authority.”
One person who walked away happy from the meeting was Aztec High School Principal Molly Kelly.
Even though the vote could affect city residents, the almost 60 percent of Aztec students will still be able to use the YCAT busses to get to school - that's because the school operates between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., she said YMPO staff told her.
“We're so relieved,” she said. “I am just so relieved.”
Kelly said the school was already receiving phone calls from concerned parents.
Other options the board considered were to discontinue the services completely or to continue DAR and terminate YCAT.
Alex Smith, with the Federal Transit Authority, attended the meeting via phone and answered many questions from the board.
He preferred the option the board ended up with: keeping both services, just with a reduction to the city of Yuma.
“It's a good deal. It creates a lot of jobs and provides a lot of services,” he said. “If you opt out completely, you're throwing money away.”
Stephanie A. Wilken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857.