A funding shortfall that threatened CATA bus service in the borough and surrounding areas may soon come to a tolerable conclusion.
Borough Manager Ralph Stewart on Tuesday said “a private source” has stepped in to fill the gap in funding. He said he expected to released further details Wednesday.
The Borough Council voted in June to pay the Centre Area Transit Authority $17,900 for 2015-16 services — $3,600 short of the $21,505 CATA had budgeted as Bellefonte’s share. As a result, CATA proposed service cuts to its XB (Bellefonte) and XG (Pleasant Gap) lines to take effect Oct. 5.
“There have been informal discussions since the council meeting where CATA said they were reviewing options for reducing services,” Stewart said.
During a CATA-hosted open house Thursday at the Bellefonte YMCA, the idea of service cuts was not well-received by Bellefonte residents who regularly ride the buses. Residents called the cuts “ridiculous” and feared for their employment if they couldn’t get transportation to their jobs.
County commissioners also weighed in Tuesday. Chairman Steve Dershem said county services are reliant on bus service, particularly the courthouse and county prison.
“We’re going to monitor this closely,” he said, “and make sure services are still available.”
CATA spokeswoman Jackie Sheader said comments from residents are still coming to the CATA office via phone and email. Nearly 50 people attended the open house, and their comments were still being compiled.
After the open house and the council meeting on July 21, the borough received calls and questions about the borough’s funding of CATA, Stewart said, wondering if funding could be found to fill in the gap.
On Tuesday, Stewart reported the funding breakthrough.
“I have received word today that there is a private source that will contribute the $3,600 toward the increase so that current services could be retained,” he said.
The next step would be the official acceptance of the funds during Monday’s Borough Council meeting, Stewart said. The borough would then be able to notify CATA that funds are available to retain the current level of service for 2015-16.