PA: BeST Transit Board Approves 2014-15 Budget

June 26--GREENS LANDING -- The BeST Transit board of directors Wednesday approved the final budget for its 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The $4,116,067 budget, an increase of about $434,000 from 2013-14's $3.68 million spending plan, will be submitted to the state's Department of Transportation following board approval. The final budget is unchanged from the tentative budget the board approved in May, said general manager Bill Nichols.

Officials balanced the budget despite increases of 26 percent in worker's compensation insurance costs and 30 percent in health insurance costs.

Anticipated revenues include $1,571,538 in fares, transportation contracts and other non-subsidy revenues, $981,114 in state-awarded shared ride revenue and $1,563,415 in operating assistance funds, according to the budget.

Nichols plans to request additional 5311 rural transit assistance funding to expand its fixed route services, he said. The funds are federal, but administered by PennDOT, he said.

In a May memorandum to state transit officials, Nichols wrote that the funds would be used to establish connecting routes between BeST and River Valley Transit of Williamsport to grow a regional transit network. The funds would also be used to fulfill transportation requests from local human service organizations and to enhance the fixed route program, including restarting service between Troy and Mansfield.

If the request for additional funds is not granted, enhanced services may not be possible, Nichols said. However, he hoped the department would look favorably upon BeST's efforts to consolidate and coordinate services.

"I would be very disappointed if we didn't get the additional funds," Nichols said.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.

Copyright 2014 - The Daily Review, Towanda, Pa.

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