GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday, the Gulfport City Council approved $54,000 to go towards the Coast Transit Authority's $73,000 funding deficit in Gulfport. Had that money not been approved, CTA officials proposed eliminating Saturday service on two routes and all of Sunday's routes to cut costs.
CTA officials say now that Gulfport approved the money, it will ensure Saturday service for route 37 and route 38.
"We have a lot of people who work on the weekends and they may depend upon the transportation provided. Also, we have a lot of tourists that come down to the coast that like to ride our buses, and they come every day of the week," said Ward 6 Gulfport Councilman R. Lee Flowers.
According to CTA officials, the money approved by Gulfport covers 75 percent of the CTA funding deficit in Gulfport. Now what's left is to continue Sunday services by covering the remaining deficit. CTA officials have a plan to do that.
"We are proposing to make up the other 25 percent with a fare increase, which is what our customers asked us to consider, instead of reducing services," CTA Executive Director Kevin Coggin said.
The fare increase proposal will be brought before the CTA board of commissioners meeting on Thursday. CTA will also propose a 30 day public comment period.
CTA riders like Carrie Sullivan say they rely on CTA daily. Sullivan says she's relieved CTA won't stop covering the Gulfport routes on Saturdays.
"I feel more comfortable. I feel assured that I will be able to help myself and I can depend on myself. I don't really have to look, I can help myself," Sullivan said.
If the board approves fare increases, then the funding deficit problem will be solved.
"There will be no service reductions in Gulfport, so we're very happy about that," Coggin said.
Officials say that 30 day public comment period is required by the Federal Transit Administration. The CTA will have to review all the comments that are made and respond to them. They will make a final recommendation at a January CTA board meeting.