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Transit officials seek funding increase; Money would be used to cut waiting times, add trips to medical facilities


At a Howard County Public Transportation Board hearing last night, county transit officials outlined their request for an increase in funding for next year.

Carl Balser, the county's transportation planning chief, said officials are optimistic about receiving the nearly $3 million in operating funds for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Last year, the county appropriated about $2.2 million for the transit system.

"I think we're going to get funding in all of the categories," Balser said. "Whether we're going to get as much as we asked for is another question."

A substantial portion of the proposed increase would be earmarked for maintaining current operations, said Ray Ambrose, transit administrator for Corridor Transportation Corp., a private company that manages the county's public transportation system.

Ambrose said the increase would also be used to:

Reduce the waiting time for buses on the Howard Area Transit Service (HATS) Fixed Route by 15 minutes during peak morning and evening hours.

Increase HATS-Ride service to the Howard County Dialysis Facility in Columbia and several medical centers by three hours a day. The service currently operates from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Add a 10th bus to the Fixed Route fleet and two vehicles to the 17-bus HATS-ADAPT for disabled passengers service.

Ambrose said the company wants to replace buses with low-floor ones, which have 12-inch-high floors that provide easier access for elderly and disabled riders.

"We have come up with what we think are some pretty good long-range and short-range strategies," Ambrose said.

"This is the ultimate wish list, and I think we as a board should endorse this proposal as a first step," said board member Art Mugge.

Pub Date: 2/24/99

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