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Board funds KAT $40k


Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to fund KAT’s Farragut Express bus route with $40,000 at its meeting, Thursday, July 23.

Alderman John Williams opened the discussion by saying he was not comfortable funding KAT without a guarantee the Farragut Express would run, even without the full $75,000 KAT requested.


“The City of Knoxville really does not want to cut the route … [but] having cancelled the Halls route they probably would feel somewhat obligated to make further reductions to the Farragut route,” KAT general manager Cindy McGinnis said.

Because of lack of funding, KAT will be cutting the Halls Express route Aug. 17.

Also beginning Aug. 17, the Farragut Express will run only five trips per day: at 6:45 a.m., 7:15 a.m., 4:15 p.m., 4:45 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. All of the evening trips also would stop at Cedar Bluff.

With the cut of one trip on the Farragut Express, the revised cost to run the routes “as-is” was between $45,000 and $50,000, McGinnis said, a number significantly lower than KAT’s original request.

Alderman Bob Markli asked McGinnis about the numbers behind her request, saying it cost KAT about $18 to run each person to Downtown Knoxville from Farragut, but the fare per passenger was only $2.

“Our costs are not subsidized by what passengers pay,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis added the City was funding KAT “to the tune of $8 million a year” and was “very anxious to find other funding partners.” Knox County does not contribute money to KAT.

“It disturbs me, frankly, that Knox County does not contribute,” Williams said.

Several Farragut Express riders addressed the Board asking it at least partially fund the route, although all acknowledged many of the riders were not Farragut residents.

McGinnis said KAT staff and Knoxville Transit Authority would not see the difference between a Farragut passenger and a Loudon County rider.

“It’s transit; it’s getting cars off the road. It’s a good, healthy route,” McGinnis said.

However, One speaker said he “sometimes comes back all alone” on the bus because there are so few riders.

McGinnis called the Farragut Express riders “loyal,” but acknowledged the summer months often had low rider numbers.

In the end, the Board voted “philosophically” and decided to fund the Farragut Express, Williams saying he knew the Town would face peak ridership days again as gas prices inevitably would rise.

The Board also voted to continue discussions with the owners of Campbell Station Wine and Spirits, with whom the Town has an easement agreement for the park-and-ride lot off Campbell Station Road.

The former owners of the property allowed the Town to use the parking lot for no charge, but new owners Gene and Pamela Treacy said they couldn’t afford to donate the land.

“I really want to be fair. … [but] I am not a wealthy person that I can afford to donate land,” Pamela said.

She added the parcel on which Campbell Station Wines sits is the 17th most-traveled parcel of land in Knox County, and $2,000 was a low price for a ground-lease agreement.

Pamela addressed the Board, offering the current easement and a back acre for future development for about $2,000 a month.

After hearing KAT’s low rider numbers, the Board decided against park-and-ride lot expansion, and Treacy said she would return with numbers for only the easement.

 

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