Committee to continue review of bus service

City wants to hire facilitator, establish ‘visionary group’

A Jefftran bus driver prepares to turn onto East Miller Street, on his way to the transfer station on that street. Jefferson City officials are exploring a change in the way the transit system runs that could save money.

A Jefftran bus driver prepares to turn onto East Miller Street, on his way to the transfer station on that street. Jefferson City officials are exploring a change in the way the transit system runs that could save money. Photo by Julie Smith.

Jefferson City is continuing discussions behind the scenes on how to move the city’s transit system forward.

Last month, the City Council restored $55,000 to the transit system, which is in danger of being cut to help cover a $1.68 million shortfall in the current budget. When the funds were restored, city leaders indicated they would begin an overall evaluation of the transit system.

Third Ward Councilman Bob Scrivner said Wednesday that the city is working on forming a type of task force or advisory group, but no proposal was ready to be discussed at the Public Works and Planning Committee just yet. Scrivner said because City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus’ proposed 2014 budget does not include any cuts to transit, there is less of a time crunch moving forward.

“There’s been work going on behind the scenes,” Scrivner said.

Scrivner said the main objectives are to define the primary purpose of JeffTran and who a typical rider is, as well as what is the most efficient way for JeffTran to achieve its primary purpose and how much funding is required for the right system.

“I’m not visualizing a commission,” Scrivner said. “This is more of a visionary group.”

Scrivner said the group would need to find out what type of system would be supported in Jefferson City and include in the discussions those opposed to transit. He said, in his mind, the current system is designed for cities with a more dense population, giving the examples of Chicago, New York and Cleveland.

Scrivner said a facilitator will be necessary for the group to move forward, someone to lead discussions throughout the process. Last month, Nickolaus was directed to begin the request for proposals, or RFP, process to find a facilitator. At the time, Nickolaus said he had hoped to have one ready in about one month.

Nickolaus said the idea now is to bring in that facilitator to help get the advisory group started and functioning. He said the role would be similar to that of the city’s recently hired conference center facilitator, who comes at a price tag of $28,750.

He said, right now, the RFP process is up to the Public Works and Planning Committee to move forward.

Scrivner said the goal is to come up with some type of solution for transit moving forward and to avoid an annual discussion on transit funding and whether to cut it.

“Let’s get community buy-in,” Scrivner said.

Scrivner said a more detailed proposal should be ready in about 30 to 60 days.

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