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KAT to continue Farragut Express


Knoxville Transit Authority voted Thursday, July 24, to keep the Farragut Express bus route running, along with the Halls Express.

The decision came after Knoxville Area Transit recommended that Express routes be cut in the face of KAT’s tightening budget, and after a move by the town of Farragut to donate $20,000 to keep the Farragut Express alive.

KTA Board chairman and candidate for County Commission seat 5-C, Don Sproles, said, “It’s extremely important right now to keep all of our routes running as they were.


“None of us want to modify services, and the temperament of the Commissioners was to keep everything going as is and to assist the City of Knoxville and the staff [of KAT] to find additional funding partners so we can continue all our service and expand

service.”

The Board recommended several ways to increase revenues to KAT staff.

“Charter rides were increased, fares that we charge to football shuttle passengers were increased, and [the Board] also approved the concept of advertising on our vehicles, shelters and benches,” said KAT general manager Cynthia McGinnis.

The University of Tennessee football shuttles run from Farragut High School and from the Coliseum. Fares were increased from $10 to $15 for the Farragut shuttle and from $4 to $5 for the Coliseum shuttle. The cost of chartering a bus was raised from $75 to $100.

The Board also had “creative ideas” about approaching businesses as funding partners, McGinnis said.

“But some of those decisions become political and we haven’t developed a game plan for that yet,” she added.

Fares will be raised in January when KAT gets its upgraded fare boxes. The new fare structure will likely be presented to the Board in September.

However, with all of these new ideas, McGinnis said funds still need to be raised to make up the cost of running the buses.

“The city of Farragut, while it is significant that they provided the subsidy they did, it is far short of what it costs KAT to operate the route,” McGinnis said.

“Nobody is stepping up with revenue, so KAT staff’s only alternative is to adjust expenses, and adjusting expenses means modifying service. And that’s very unpopular in this day and time.

“We’re going to run the route as-is for the time being … but any change we do really involves we do a public hearing. At this point there are no changes planned for the Farragut route,” McGinnis said.

“I’m just not sure where this is going to end up,” she added.

Meanwhile, Town staff is moving forward with expanding the park and ride lot. Town attorney Tom Hale is currently reviewing a lease agreement to purchase land behind Pilot gas station, adjacent to the current park and ride lot.

According to assistant Town administrator Gary Palmer, the lot could accommodate as many as 40 additional parking spaces.

“We’ve walked the property over there and the topography looks good … we’re going to look at doing some engineering here at the office to see what we can fit out there,” Palmer said.

The plans will have to be approved by Farragut Municipal Planning Commission and “it will probably be a couple of months, but we’re definitely moving on that,” Palmer added.

“I think even if they did discontinue that [route], we would still look at it for carpooling and as part of that Grigsby Chapel trail head.” he said.

 

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