YMPO delays decision on YCAT
Residents throughout Yuma County will be able to use the local public transit services at least for a little while longer after a vote Thursday.
At its meeting Thursday, the Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization (YMPO) executive board voted to hold over whether or not to terminate the Yuma County Area Transit (YCAT) and Dial-a-Ride (DAR) services.
The motion passed 5-3, with Yuma Mayor Al Krieger voting by phone.
There was a previous motion for the board to vote on one of three options for the services: to terminate both services completely, to continue DAR only, or to continue both with reduced services - and a reduction of services within the city limits.
So what does the holdover mean for area residents who rely on public transportation in Yuma County?
Charlene FitzGerald, executive director of YMPO, said operations will continue “as normal.”
But just when the next YMPO board meeting will be is yet to be determined. Members are still working out the date, leaving residents with still no clear picture of the future of public transportation heading into the month of August.
In addition, the Yuma City Council could possibly revisit its recent decision to not fund the services for three months, a move that sparked controversy among entities that contribute financially to the services. The city was the only entity in the YCAT and DAR coverage area to vote no on funding.
Discussion Thursday was heated as board members considered the potential funding of the services.
“It’s not that we’re denying anyone anything, it’s just that it won’t be available anymore,” Krieger said. “The council took fair action.”
He said he wants discontinue the services and start from scratch and that’s the consensus throughout the community. “We’re not getting the services that we’re paying for ... and we’re not getting the services that fit the community."
Greg Ferguson, board member and Yuma County supervisor, said he “couldn’t disagree more.”
“I don’t believe one ‘no’ vote from the city of Yuma,” he said. “In my mind, if you don’t pay, you don’t play.”
Cody Beeson, board member and Yuma city councilman, said maybe it’s not too late for the city of Yuma.
“That’s not a position I support,” Beeson said, referring to the vote whether or not to fund the services for three months. “I support it for a year.”
Board member and Somerton Mayor Martin Porchas said if Yuma is out, then he doesn’t think they should get any services.
“I’d rather bring my citizens to the Walmart in San Luis rather than the Walmart in Yuma,” he said.
Either way, FitzGerald said a study still needs to be done.
That includes assessing key elements such as system design, stop locations, hours of operation, fare structure and operating costs.
Attendees of the meeting were also passionate about the subject, though every person who spoke in front of the board was in favor of keeping the services running.
Linda Gararer of Yuma said she is disabled and sees about six specialists for her health care needs.
“It would be a detriment if they weren’t here for me,” she said about the services. “I would have no way to go. (The services) are very important.”
Fernando Molina said the services are far from being a luxury - and it could impact the local economy. “There is no doubt in our minds that local businesses will be dramatically affected.”