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March 17, 2011

Worries over rising fuel costs and uncertainties over future Federal and State funding are cause for concern at Link Transit. The bus system is already faced with an 860-thousand dollar budget shortfall this year. On Tuesday Link board members were presented with proposed service cuts, fare increases and staff reductions that would help balance the budget. Steve Hair reports .
The current financial problems are mostly caused by the recession and decreased revenues from sales taxes. Board members such as Douglas County Commissioner Dale Snyder expect that to change as the economy improves . . .
The budget cutting plans presented to the board yesterday are now available for public review.
Looking forward to 2012 Derock said its still unknown if State grant funding will be approved in this session. If that is cut, additional bus routes would be either scaled back or cut. Federal budget cuts and skyrocketing fuel prices could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to Link’s budget shortfall. If that transpires, you could see an end to Saturday bus service and layoffs. Link’s diesel fuel contract is set to expire this year. The transit system currently pays about 2 dollars and change for a gallon of diesel. The current contract price is well over 3 dollars and 30 cents a gallon which would by itself increase Link’s fuel costs by half a million dollars Originally Link Transit staff proposed going to the voters for a sales tax increase.
Meanwhile, public bus systems throughout the State are feeling the pinch. King County is currently considering a 20 dollar car tab tax to help Metro Transit meet expenses. The Link Transit board is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget on May 17th. If approved, the fare changes would become effective July 1st and the changes to the bus routes and schedules would be implemented October 1st.


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