The Buzz Bus, a 15-year-old Durango transportation solution for curbing weekend and holiday drunk driving, will continue to operate in 2014 and will be funded by an increase in rider fare and municipal court fines.
The decision to retain the service within the Durango’s 2014 budget was announced by the City Manager Ron Leblanc at the City Council Budget Reconciliation Study Session, Tuesday Nov. 12.
Leblanc proposed raising the fare to $8 and adding a $2 surcharge to all municipal court convictions in order to fund the program. His office reports that the service costs 32.5 thousand dollars annually to operate and currently brings in about 25 thousand dollars in collected fares.
“So people coming into court pay an extra $2, and people riding the Buzz Bus pay an extra $3,” Leblanc said. “That gives us enough funding to pay for the Buzz Bus.”
At the last City Council meeting on Nov. 5, Leblanc announced that it was the consensus of the Council to see the Buzz Bus service continue.
Under the new plan presented on Nov. 12, Leblanc said that the City will move the service from the City’s Transportation Fund to the General Fund, where it’s funding will be classified under Community Support Items.
City Councilor Sweetie Marbury said that she thinks the $8 fare is reasonable when compared to the expense of drinking out in Durango, and as the victim of a drunk driver she said that retaining the service was extremely important to her.
“Also, my son is a bartender here - he knows and has shared with me the value of the Buzz Bus - so for me it was a no-brainer to find the funding somewhere,” Marbury said.
Trolley to Remain Free; Funded by Parking Ticket and Parking Meter Increases
Transit changes within the 2014 budget proposal that would have affected weekend bus riders and Trolley riders were also reconciled Tuesday, and within LeBlanc’s latest budget these services will no longer be changed.
The trolley will remain free, and weekend bus transit service will be the same, confirmed the Councilor Keith Brant in a phone interview.
Funding for these services will be sourced from an increase in parking tickets from $9 to $12, and a $0.25 per hour increase in parking meter rates downtown.
Rates for monthly transit passes for FLC students will be the same in 2014, while passes for much of the rest of the community will see an increase.
The standard adult monthly pass will increase from $30 to $40, and a youth/disabled/senior pass will increase from $15 to $20, said multimodal transportation director Amber Blake.
The Transit Department will be implementing a new instant $10 rebate for low-income riders, which was in response to input the Council received from the disabled community at the last City Council meeting, Leblanc said.
The rebate applies to both types of passes, and transit officials estimate that 300 of the approximately 800 annual pass buyers will qualify for the rebate.