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Board postpones KAT funding decision


Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen postponed a decision on funding Knoxville Area Transit’s Farragut Express.

As first reported on Farragut First Edition at www.farragutpress.com, Board members postponed a decision until May or June, when newly elected officials would have taken their places and the Board is considering the fiscal year 2010 budget.

“We have no monies in our budget this fiscal year to fund this amount of money,” Mayor Eddy Ford said.

“Our process would be … to consider this in our budget cycle for fiscal year 2010.

“Our dynamics will change. We’ll have an election; we may have new people. Who knows what we’ll have,” he added.


KAT general manager Cynthia “Cindy” McGinnis said she was coming early this year to avoid another last-minute decision. Last year, KAT asked for $100,000 from the Town in July. Due to limited funds, the Town gave $20,000.

“We wanted to make sure we kind of got our foot in the door a little earlier this year so you would have plenty of time to consider it,” McGinnis said.

KAT is requesting $75,000 from the Town to pay operator wages and fuel costs for the Farragut Express, which runs routes from Campbell Station Road’s park-and-ride lot to downtown.

“Farragut ridership, each month for several months, has been higher than the same month the year before,” McGinnis said.

September saw 2,500 passengers, the highest amount ever on the Farragut Express.

“Ridership has remained strong,” McGinnis said, although it has decreased slightly since September when gas prices began decreasing.

KAT’s budget, McGinnis said, is approximately $17 million, half provided by the City of Knoxville.

Twenty-five percent of the budget is funded through TDOT and federal grants. The remaining 25 percent comes from fare boxes and donors, such as The University of Tennessee and, since last year, the town of Farragut.

KAT raised its fares Tuesday, Jan. 20. On the express routes, a one-way trip now costs $2. A 20-ride express pass costs $35.

Knox County does not fund KAT.

Vice Mayor J. Michael Haynes said McGinnis should ask the County to fund the Farragut Express too.

“It is in the County,” he said.

McGinnis said she already had requested $25,000 from the County for the Halls Express.

Haynes and Alderman Thomas “Tom” Rosseel recommended she also ask Loudon County and downtown or Turkey Creek merchants for funding.

“I know from past that residents of Loudon County indicate they drive to the park-and-ride lot to use that [bus],” Rosseel said.

“I know you have thought of this as a regional transportation, so it takes in the whole metropolitan area of Knoxville,” he added.

Rosseel said Turkey Creek merchants may be interested in subsidizing a route that would bring shoppers from downtown.

McGinnis agreed and said the possibility of taking the bus through Turkey Creek was increasing anyway; KAT plans to realign routes after it completes a Transit Development Plan later this year.

 

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