"It's easy, you go to almost any street corner," says Citibus rider Daniel Carmen. Catching a bus has never been a problem for Daniel Carmen, but next year it may be. When Lubbock's population spilled over 200,000, Citibus lost two things: $700,000 in federal money, and the right to decide exactly where the money they 'do' have goes.
"It's a funding problem in the fact that the money we get now we can't use it for operating," says Citibus General Manager, John Wilson. Citibus was able to get federal funding they needed for this year, but it's 2004 their worried about. That's why Wilson turned to city council Wednesday for help.
"We need a contingency plan in case funds don't come in," says Mayor Marc McDougal. City Manager, Bob Cass says, "It's going to take a big chunk of our money." But Wilson says they have already made a series of budget cuts. "$591,000 worth of cuts, they'll go into effect the 13th of this month."
Two of the biggest cuts include evening rides going from two dollars to five dollars and starting Monday, eight lunch routes will run every hour, instead of every half hour. As a Citibus rider, Allen Bryant knows firsthand how inconvenient this will be for others. "Especially if they have to be at work at a certain time, and buses run once an hour," he says.
"They're gonna have to change routes or they're gonna find other means of transportation," says Wilson. Wilson says a decrease in passengers will cost them an added $96,000 in yearly revenues.
In total, Citibus needs about $450,000 to operate in 2004, and they're not sure how much federal help they'll be receiving in 2004 until mid way through that year. So they are left with several options:
The city council asked Citibus to prepare a contingency plan to work within the budget. Then the council will decide whether or not they will fund the additional money. Mayor Marc McDougal says council members will discuss the issue again at Thursday's meeting.