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ATA loses its bid for state funding

Word out of Jefferson City today is that Kansas City lost its bid to get emergency transit funding from the General Assembly.

Sen. Yvonne Wilson, a Kansas City Democrat, made an unsuccessful attempt this afternoon to give the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority $8 million in emergency funding. Although discussion of budget bills will continue throughout the week, there are virtually no opportunities left to add new items.

St. Louis will still get $12 million.

Earlier in the day, the ATA sent out an action alert, warning the community that the legislature was prepared to give St. Louis funds and Kansas City nothing.

“While we support the funding for St. Louis, Kansas City should not be left behind, particularly when our community has voted repeatedly to support public transit. Without this one-time funding, critical service cuts will go into effect in June,” the ATA said.

Starting June 28, the ATA is cutting service on 25 of it 66 routes -- mostly at midday, nights and weekends when ridership is lean.

The ATA also is shutting down its regional call center on weekends starting May 23.

The call center provides schedule and route information for bus service. Riders will have to rely on printed schedules or the Internet.

The ATA also plans to cut 45 to 60 jobs and the agency’s 110 salaried employees will forgo pay raises until at least May 2010 and lose three paid holidays

The ATA approved the cuts in the face of a funding shortfall brought about by declining sales taxes and City Hall’s diversion of some tax money to subsidize new development and traffic signals.

St. Louis has been lobbying for emergency funding to help offset a $50 million deficit that occurred after voters there refused to pass a half-cent sales tax last fall.

The city cut transit service by about 30 percent, leaving up to 16,000 people who used transit to get to work without service.

To reach Brad Cooper call 816-234-7724 or send e-mail to bcooper@kcstar.com

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