TX: Proposed Citibus Route Elimination Draws Criticism

Aug. 20--Clifton Hayes takes Citibus to work at University Medical Center every day.

When the Lubbock resident found out Citibus was considering eliminating that bus route, he offered up other options -- even not-so-great ones.

"We don't want the fare to be increased, but we'll take it. Having it cut out is not an option," Hayes told the city's public transit advisory board Tuesday night.

Hayes was one of the 15 or so residents who took the podium at a public hearing regarding the proposed route elimination. All were opposed.

"The city is growing -- much of the public depends on these bus routes," guest speaker Martin Auberin said.

One of the Citibus routes in question goes from 24th Street and the Quaker Medical District to the South Plains Mall. The other travels from 34th Street and Boston Avenue to the mall.

The proposition to cut them is in response to financial worries from the Affordable Care Act and higher insurance premiums and fuel costs, Citibus General Manager Maurice Pearl said.

"We're trying to work through everything and tighten our budget," he said.

Auberin and other speakers suggested implementing smarter budget planning.

"It's my belief the money is there. There's just some mismanagement," he said.

Jeff Reese, another speaker, said he sympathizes with the financial challenges of directing a nonprofit service, but the city's overall budget suggests overspending in other areas.

"As a citizen, it's hard to register this with what I hear on the news about buying buildings and paying outrageous severance packages," he said.

Robert Moreno told the board he uses both routes to get to various sites to perform yardwork. He seconded Hayes' suggestion of higher fares.

"If that's what it's gonna take to keep these routes going, go ahead and raise the rates to $3.75 or $4," he said.

Another hearing will be held noon Wednesday at the Citibus Downtown Transfer Plaza, 801 Broadway.

If the transportation board does agree to pursue the route cuts, it will recommend them to the City Council for final approval. If they pass a council vote, the route cuts will take effect Sept. 29.

josephine.musico@lubbockonline.com --766-8796

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