CTA faces key city funding vote Tuesday

Coast Transit unveiled two new trolleys for its East Biloxi Casino Hopper line the other day thanks to $500,000 in state and federal grants, but the agency worries it may have to cut back its Beachcomber line from six days to two days a week if it doesn’t get full funding from the City of Biloxi.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the Coast Transit Authority funding issue during the City Council meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

The city, which provided CTA 87 percent of the $333,000 it asked for during budget sessions months ago, is now being asked for the other 13 percent or $45,000. During the budget sessions, councilmembers suggested that CTA seek the remainder of the funding six months into the city’s fiscal year, which is now.

And while it’s $45,000 to Biloxi taxpayers, CTA would stand to lose more than $235,000 in federal subsidies that are tied exclusively to the city’s transit funding.

The potential loss, says CTA Director Kevin Coggin, is because of the matrix used to fund public transit.

“What we do is leverage any local funds to get as much as three or four times that amount in state or federal funding,” Coggin said. “The problem is when we face a shortfall in local funding, it becomes a significant impact to operations because of the loss in federal funding.”

CTA’s Plan B, if funding is not restored, would be to reduce the Beachcomber line from six days a week to Friday and Saturday only. The Beachcomber line currently carries about 110,000 riders a year.

State and federal funding, Coggin noted, is what paid for the two new trolleys CTA put in service in December for the popular Casino Hopper route, which carries 160,000 passengers a year in east Biloxi.

“Those trolleys were fully paid for with state and federal funds,” Coggin said. “We certainly look for every dime we can find in state or federal grants, but some of them, such as fixed-route service, are based on the local funding. Some might suggest why don’t we raise the fares, but that will not restore the federal dollars we’d lose.”

Incidentally, the two new trolleys, green with white roofs, are similar to the older wooden-side trolleys CTA has used for years.

Says CTA’s Chris Foret: “The trolleys are a favorite with tourist and locals alike.  Whether it is casino hopping, work, shopping or just hitting the many attractions along the fixed route system, CTA strives to deliver a great experience while using their service.”
See the CTA agenda item
See the overall council agenda and supporting documents

News & notes: Weekly review, B-Alert

The week that was: Last week, the Fire Department answered 173 calls for service, including 108 medical emergencies and six fires; the Police Department handled 1,799 calls for service; the Community Development Department issued 57 building permits with a construction valuation of nearly $500,000; and the Engineering Department continued to progress on projects throughout the city.  To see the reports covering last week, click here. 

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